“Maybe I’m looking for the miracle in the wrong place.” That’s what I felt as I lay on my bed, the screams of my children in my ears along with the memory of my angry retorts. Miracles can be hard to spot sometimes. Sometimes you expect them to come in one way, and then they come in a different way.
About a hundred and seventy-five years ago, my ancestor John Lowe Butler was serving a mission to the Sioux Indians. The mission wasn’t going well. It turned out that the native tribe preferred to kill the missionaries rather than hear their message. The Elders were fleeing for their lives across the wilderness. With no food for days, my ancestor began hallucinating. He would see a big fat deer running nearby only to have the mirage disappear as he got his rifle to kill it. Each time this would happen, he felt more frustrated. He was doing what the Prophet Joseph Smith had asked him to do! He was trying to serve the Savior. Why was he going to starve to death in the wilderness? Why didn’t the Lord answer his desperate prayers?
The Lord told him to go to the river. He had been looking in the wrong place for food. God had generously provided for John Lowe Butler and his companion. The miracle was not in the field where the mirages were. The miracle was in the river.
When John Lowe Butler approached the river, he was stunned to see it teaming with fish. There were so many his autobiography said there were thousands. The two men caught the fish and ate their fill. To my knowledge, he never was able to teach any Sioux, but his mission tested his faith and helped make him a better man.
This week has been so taxing for me and my family. I have been sick. I was tested for coronavirus and the test was negative. I am grateful that I am not on oxygen and next to death, but I still don’t know what’s wrong with me or when it will go away. The extra burdens on me and my husband have created tension in our marriage. The typical teenage struggles have been magnified by the quarantine creating tension and problems in our relationships. There seems to be no relief in sight as school will likely not resume this spring. Hopefully we can keep our teenagers from failing their classes, but the stress of the situation seems unrelenting.
I am fasting as of this afternoon on Friday. We are planning to order takeout this evening to break our fast, in part because I will be too exhausted to cook a meal. Like my dear ancestor, I feel frustrated and confused. Why is this happening? When will it end? The fear and chaos are palpable and the spirit seems so far away.
I’m not good enough. The members of the church aren’t good enough. We don’t have enough faith. We aren’t righteous enough. And yet……He is good enough. And he loves us. For whatever reason, he sees the good in us. He sees value in us and has compassion on us in our suffering.
The miracle is happening, I’m just not looking in the right place. Maybe the miracle is in the river and I am looking in the field. The Lord knew that John Lowe Butler would not starve. He had provided the way. He had a plan. It was John that was afraid. John was confused. John was angry. God knows the path. He knows the cure. He has the plan.
I pray for the medical professionals who have to watch people die in their care and can do nothing to save them. I pray for their families who often can’t even be with them to help them carry their burdens. I pray for those who die alone surrounded by nothing but screens and strangers to say their last goodbyes. I pray for those who can’t get care and die alone in their homes. I pray for those who mourn for their loved ones, unable to have proper funerals and loving social support of a warm embrace.
I pray for the suffering that is unseen, unreported by news outlets. I pray for the suffering in refugee camps and migrant communities. I pray for victims of domestic violence and the innocent children who are now trapped inside of homes with violent caretakers with no school to escape to. The world groans with the suffering of humanity.
There is only one cure. There is only one path. There is only one who is Mighty to Save. May we find Him in our hearts. May we cultivate Him in our walk on this planet. May we more perfectly imitate the Master who can and will deliver us. This is my prayer.