Last week, I was in a discussion about the spiritual needs of us younger-ish people. We spoke about answers from God. There was this feeling that many seek answers but don’t seem to get them. That they ask, but don’t feel they receive. And that without an answer to all the questions and all the confusion, it can be hard to believe in God. I’ve been there. In some aspects of my life, I’m still there. But I believe in continuing forward even when I don’t know everything. To me, that is what it actually means to walk by faith, and not by sight.
My thoughts turned to an answer I think I am often reluctant to recognize as an answer. It’s an answer that is hard to “listen” to because it doesn’t always feel like an answer. It is when the answer is peace.
We have a lot of questions. Friends, family members, news agencies, blogs, and others present a lot of potentially helpful, but possibly conflicting, answers. Google wants to answer all our questions. But it really can’t. In most of the real questions in life, our greatest answer may be peace. And if I could realize that more often, I would be more grateful for it.
In the New Testament, in Matthew 8 and Mark 4, we read as the Savior Jesus Christ has just finished the Sermon on the Mount. He went about healing others. He healed a leper. He healed a centurion’s servant. He went to his disciple, Peter’s, house and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. And then, as multitudes gathered, He left in a ship, and his disciples followed.
“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
“And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4: 37-39).
How many times have I asked the heavens, “Carest thou not that I perish?” or “How canst thou lie asleep?” (“Master, the Tempest is Raging, Hymns, 105). The Savior could easily answer, “I do care, and I can sleep because I’m in this boat and it’s not going to sink.” But instead, “he arose…and said unto the sea, Peace, be still…and there was a great calm.”
The disciples wanted to know if the Savior cared. The Savior gave them peace in the storm. When I’ve asked, “How come I have to deal with this particular situation in my life?” I also don’t often get the answer I expect. And I probably wouldn’t appreciate it. If God answered all my questions with a spoken-word answer, it probably wouldn’t always reach me or suffice my need. The facts of the matter aren’t always what we need, even though it’s what we think we want.
Instead, “there [is] a great calm.” I need to appreciate when the answer has simply been peace.
When my mom had brain surgery twice while I was on my mission, there was no way for me to research out and understand what was going on. I couldn’t find out the answers to “What are the outcomes of this particular surgery?” or “How exactly will this be performed?” The Lord COULD have answered those questions. But instead, a great calm. Peace.
When my dad had open heart surgery a few years ago and things didn’t go exactly as planned and my mom and I sat in the waiting room through two long surgeries late into the evening, I wanted to know if he would be all right, if all would be normal, if God cared. He could have just said, “Yes, I do care.” Instead, He gave the greater answer. A great calm. Peace. Which was not only a sign He cared, but a balm to a tired soul.
When my grandmother went to the emergency room due to complications from pneumonia and the hospital staff messed up, had to resuscitate her, but it was too late and sepsis took us to the painful point of deciding to let her go Home… I wanted to know why God let the hospital staff screw things up. I wanted to know if someone would pay for the mistake. Instead. A great calm. Peace.
It’s a more common answer the more I reflect on it. When receiving certain opportunities to serve in the Church, when starting new semesters, when starting new jobs. When taking on new projects at work. When dealing with the heart-wrenching difficulties of depressive moments. When struggling with the pain of others’ choices. When watching others struggle so deeply and not knowing how to help. When not understanding certain points of doctrine or policy. When trying to get over a broken heart and wonder if I will ever be able to love again. God COULD tell me why all of it is happening and what it all means. He could give direct answers. And sometimes He does. But most times, He gives what I really need. A great calm. Peace.
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can [we] have than from God?” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:23).
The Prince of Peace says to us: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14: 27).
Not as the world giveth. Not a quick answer. Not a listicle of 5 things we can do to solve our problem. Not a historical overview in our minds. Not a method to turn our symptoms into a diagnosis. Not a cure. Not someone brought back. Not immediate restitution or reconciliation. Not always a phone call when we need it. Not always someone reaching out at just the right moment. Those moments do happen, and I am grateful for those moments.
But, at times, all I need is a great calm…when peace is the answer.