I had a neighbor named Jill growing up whose husband was diagnosed with cancer in his fifties.
They did everything they could to exercise faith. He continued his calling as bishop. They went to the temple, held fasts, and tried every available treatment.
Her husband still died ten months later.
She said her experience helped her understand Daniel 3, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship a golden image and were going to be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Before they are forced into the furnace they testified that God could save them, “But if not, be it known that we will not […] worship the golden image which thou hast set up,” (Daniel 3:18). The three men were miraculously saved from the flames.
In juxtaposition, in Abraham 1 three virtuous women were put in a similar position. They also refused to worship the gods of wood or stone. They lived out the “but if not” scenario and were sacrificed on the alter.
Jill, too, is living out the “but if not” scenario. Sometimes, it is hard to go to church. She hears of other people’s trials being alleviated because of faith and prayers and she wonders why hers were not.
She heard a quote after her husband’s death that gave her perspective:
“When someone has an ailment or an illness and they are healed as a result of a blessing, their faith is being strengthened. But for those who aren’t healed, but continue faithful, their faith is being perfected. The first is a faith-promoting experience. The second is a faith-perfecting experience.” (Melissa Merrill, Ensign 2011)
She said, “Given the choice, most of us would choose the faith-promoting experience over the faith-perfecting experience—it’s far less painful. But if perfect faith is our goal, we will undoubtedly need to pass through some “but if not” experiences.”
Although each of us will experience different trials and different miracles in our lives—
the goal for each of us is the same: to “let God prevail.” (President Nelson).
When we do, we will find Him.
No matter our situation.
What have you learned from your “but if not”experience?
Adapted with permission from “The Miracle that Didn’t Come” by Jill Walker