By Cheryl Banner
Life is no Disneyland where all of our wishes and dreams come true. Some days are miserable, some are wretched, others are just plain heartbreaking. Throughout our lives it is inevitable that we will experience trials, pain, problems, and hardships. Currently we see devastating floods, tornadoes, wars and conflicts, hurricanes, political unrest, crashing stock markets, addictions, divorces, and rampant diseases. Where can we find hope? Where can we find peace in a troubled world where tragedy and distress abound?
Our fourth child was a boy---we first had a girl, then a boy, then a girl, and along came Douglas,
making our little family perfectly even. My husband was serving as the bishop, a priesthood leader in our congregation, and I was a busy, happy mother and homemaker. Life was hectic and active with four little ones under the age of 6, but we were content, happy and blessed. Five days after Christmas, our bubble of joy burst as I walked into the nursery and found that our perfectly healthy, beautiful baby had passed away during the night, a victim of SIDS---Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Sorrow and devastating grief and sadness filled our lives in the days that followed. A physical ache pierced my heart as I longed to hold my child in my arms again. Where could I find peace? How could I ever hope to feel joy again?
In the weeks following the loss of our baby son, a county nurse was sent to visit our family and offer some grief counseling. She suggested we attend a SIDS support group to help us find comfort and ways to cope with the sorrow. I will never forget the feeling of sitting in a large circle with these other grieving parents and listening to their stories of crushing loss. "Why?" they asked. "How could this happen?" Anger, resentment, unrelenting sorrow, and hopelessness dominated their outlooks. It was such a contrast to what I was feeling.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that families can be sealed together even after death through promises we make in sacred places called temples.
Because our family had been sealed together for time and for all eternity in the temple, I had hope that our separation was only temporary. Our family could be whole again!
Because of my faith in Christ, I had an eternal perspective and belief that family relationships are eternal and do not cease with death. Although my heart was aching and there was a momentary hole in our family now, I knew I would see my son again. Despite my overwhelming sense of loss and mourning, I knew I would hold him in my arms again. I had confidence that I would raise him and watch him grow because a loving Savior had provided a way. I had hope and I had peace.
Where does hope come from when we are feeling overwhelmed, alone, lost, depressed, or weighed down? The answer to that query is found in the scriptures, The Book of Mormon -
Another Testament of Christ. Here the prophet Moroni who had every reason to be discouraged and disheartened gives this answer: "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ. (Moroni 7:41-42). Christ is the source of all hope.
Satan will do everything in his power to have us lose hope—to be constantly discouraged, despondent, depressed and engulfed in sadness. The battle lines are clearly drawn, Satan loves to see us in despair. He tells us, "There is no hope. This life is the end. Why try? Why keep on going? You can never be happy." These are lies!
The Savior increases our hope. He will do just the opposite of the devil. He will do all in his power to encourage us, lift us up, help us in every possible way. Can't you just hear him saying, "I am always here for you. I laid down my life for you. I love you. I redeemed you. I paid the price for you because I know you have what it takes to come home. Trust me. Believe in me." There is always hope in Him. In Jesus Christ all hope has its existence. Without Him there is no hope. He is hope.
I feel truly blessed to know that families can be together forever. There is no greater sorrow than the loss of a child, but I believe that though our lives may be filled with sadness, loss, and grief, our suffering is not permanent because our Savior loves us and will be there to walk with us through every despair and sorrow. We can always have hope and peace because of Him.