One day I was visiting with a faithful couple who had tried for several years to conceive a child but who had been unsuccessful. Over those years, they had spent countless hours together with doctors and in prayer. They had already been given many blessings, but they asked if I would be willing to assist in giving the wife another. I felt impressed to fulfill that request.
While I was delivering the blessing, a strong impression came to me that I should promise the wife that she would bear a child. Not much more than that was said, and they left with a renewed sense of hope.
A year or so later they came to visit me again. They had that same wonderful spirit of love and faith about them. I remembered the impression I had to promise that she would bear a child, so I was a little surprised when they not only came without a child, but she was not pregnant.
While we were enjoying getting caught up, I could tell the wife had something she wanted to tell me. I asked her about it, and she told me that a few months after our initial visit and blessing, she had received the happy news that she was pregnant. What joy she felt. Each day she thanked God for this blessing and relished the idea of having a child to raise and teach and train. She loved her child from the moment she found out she was expecting.
Everything had gone smoothly until about two weeks before her due date. One day she didn’t feel right, so she was rushed to the hospital, where a fully formed beautiful baby girl was delivered. She took two or three small gasps and then was gone.
She mourned for weeks. Questions streamed through her mind. Why did this happen? What about the promise I was given? What about those years of waiting and months of patient preparation? Her spirit felt torn, going between the heartache of loss and the feeling of love for and trust in the Lord. Then one day as she was expressing her grief to Him, a new light flooded over her that washed away any doubt, guilt, or frustration she might have had.
She then paused, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “Elder Groberg, you remember the promise from the Lord you gave me? It was that I would ‘bear’ a child, not that I would ‘raise’ one. I bore a daughter. She is mine; she is ours. His promise is fulfilled. I should not complain. Those months of preparation should not be wasted with questioning or doubt. They will become a bulwark of faith and love that my husband and I can build on for all eternity. It has taken time and effort to understand this, but I am deeply grateful for Him and the increased faith and love He has given me.”
I looked into her eyes and saw her holding her husband’s hand as they calmly glowed together in shared faith and love. I could not hold back the tears. I felt to exclaim as has been done before, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:10).
After they left, the glow of their faith stayed with me, and I began to see many difficult things that I and others have been through in a new light. I realized that many people wonder about promises of eternal marriages that have been interrupted by death or divorce or other reasons pertaining to this world. Others who have not been able to have children may wonder, as may those who have their hopes for faithful posterity fade due to bad choices. Others deal with the heartache of marriages not happening in this life. Despite these current challenges to our faith, I know that throughout all of eternity, faithfulness will be rewarded and every promised blessing will be received by the faithful.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf counseled, “Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness” (“Continue in Patience,” Ensign, May 2010).
While the couple with whom I visited were not able to have any more biological children, they were eventually able to adopt children and raised their family in faithfulness. I know their reward will be glorious, both here and hereafter, as it will be for all the faithful.
Over time I find myself thinking more about the statement this sister made: “We must not waste this preparation time but see that it becomes a bulwark to our faith and love.” Whether it is waiting through a pregnancy or an illness or other things that are beyond our control, we should use that time to meditate, to pray, to praise, and to acknowledge the hand of God in our lives and in all things.