Latter-day Saint Life

Sister Nelson on Why Believing in Miracles May Not Mean Receiving the Blessing We Desire


This is the first in a series of articles from Sister Wendy Watson Nelson's new book, The Heavens Are Open.Check back next week for more powerful insights.

I am a believer.

I do not remember ever not believing in God, our Heavenly Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

I believe in the ministering of angels, dreams that bring messengers and messages, words from hymns that float into our minds unexpectedly and yet exactly when we need them, and scriptures that open to answer the questions we most need to have answered on a given day.

I believe in miracles. Actually, I count on them.

And, at this point in my life, I believe that the Lord brings us the precise miracles that will help us grow into our true selves, and miracles that will help us do His work.

I believe that in the temples of God we can receive His power through ordinances that enlighten our minds, invigorate our spirits, heal our hearts and bodies, and provide the eternal perspective that helps things make sense.

I believe in the power of priesthood blessings to heal. My widowed father was given a “death sentence” by a doctor—a specialist who told Dad that he had two weeks to live because the colon cancer (which had been excised 17 months earlier) had metastasized to his liver, accompanied by total shutdown of his kidneys. My father was told to go home and to get his affairs in order.

Before he left the hospital, Dad received a priesthood blessing from my brother-in-law. My father was at peace about his diagnosis and didn’t want any “heroics,” so he received no radiation, no chemotherapy, and no special diet (although we tried to get as many chocolate shakes into him as possible). He carried on serving others as he had done all of his kind, brilliant, gentle, and optimistic life, and he continued receiving hemodialysis for kidney failure.

According to my father, his 15 minutes of fame occurred on a September day five months after the doctor’s two-week prognostication, when, because he was starting to look and feel better, I took him for an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy. My father’s moment in the sun came when the doctor—who called in two other doctors because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the ultrasound—said that he would not be able to do the biopsy. Why?

Because there was no cancer present! Dad lived seven more years, loving and learning every day, bringing joy to his family well into his 82nd year of a wonderful life.

I also believe that there are times when the healing promised in a priesthood blessing is a complete and total healing—from the Lord’s perspective. That blessing of healing translates into people being freed from all the suffering that accompanied their afflictions and from the vicissitudes of mortal life. How does that complete healing happen? They are taken Home. This was the case with my husband’s daughter Wendy on January 11, 2019.

I believe in Jesus Christ’s power to cleanse and heal, redeem and strengthen us. I am so grateful to our Heavenly Father for His plan of happiness, of continuing progression, which provided a Savior for us. And I will be forever indebted to Jesus Christ for co-authoring and editing my life history.

With all of that power available, and with my bedrock belief in all of that power, does that mean everything I have ever wanted in my life has happened?


For example, I always knew that I would marry in my 20s and have 10 children. As it turns out, I married in my mid-50s and am younger than the eldest of my husband’s 10 children.

The Lord was and is the Source of the love and hope and peace and joy that my husband and I feel now that we are together. Our covenants with God, including the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, become more real to us every day.

So, what helped when things didn’t turn out as I originally hoped or planned? First and foremost, I knew my parents loved me. That certainty cut through everything. Then, regularly doing all the spiritually strengthening things that you and I know to do kept me moving ahead: praying, fasting, serving others, fulfilling Church assignments, and spending time in the temple and in the scriptures.

Often the Lord’s counsel to the Prophet Joseph Smith helped me to look beyond the present during disappointing, really tough, even frightening times: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).

Lead image from The Church News.

Read more from Sister Nelson in The Heavens Are Open.

God speaks to His prophet on the earth today. And He will speak to you, too.

That is the powerful testimony of Sister Wendy W. Nelson, wife of President Russell M. Nelson, as she shares her personal witness of truths that will increase our capacity to receive and act on revelation from the heavens. In this volume, she offers a number of ideas for things we can do—and stop doing—in order to understand the Spirit’s direction more clearly.

“All I have witnessed, all I have experienced tells me that our Father wants to communicate with each one of His children and will do so commensurate with our desire and earnest seeking,” writes Sister Nelson. This remarkable book will help readers learn how to open that door.


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