See the Tender Mercies of the Lord in Your Life

IMG_1486Writing this blog is dangerous business. I find myself confessing my own weaknesses and faults way too often.

Today’s post is no exception. And even though this post is on the long side, you have an incentive to finish. If you endure, I will share not one, not two, but THREE real-life examples that testify of my stupidity. Sweet, right!?

Oh, and you will also read about the Lord’s abounding goodness, which is what the post is really about.

Some of you may remember Elder David A. Bednar’s talk, The Tender Mercies of the Lord. When you finish this post, I suggest you hop over and read it. It’s good.

In his talk, Elder Bednar discusses “the tender mercies of the Lord,” a phrase found in 1 Nephi 1:20 in the Book of Mormon.

“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

Elder Bednar explains that “the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

To provide an example, Elder Bednar tells of the time he first spoke in General Conference as a newly-called apostle of the Church. The hymn performed right before he got up to speak – Redeemer of Israel – had been chosen several months earlier. The people who chose the hymn didn’t know that it was Elder Bednar’s favorite, and the very hymn he would have chosen for support if he could.

The Lord, however, did know.

As Elder Bednar indicates, the tender mercies of the Lord “do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.”

This is true. But I’ve also found the Lord is so good that he sometimes displays His tender mercies in our lives, even if we aren’t – at least in that particular moment – models of faithfulness, obedience, and humility.

Let me offer three recent personal examples to illustrate.

Embarrassing Example Number One. I often get frustrated by my slow progress as a writer, especially when it comes to my fiction writing. One day I was especially negative about my writing abilities and – as frequently happens – pretty much decided to quit writing altogether. My attitude was horrible. My poor husband did his best to comfort me and after I’d calmed down a little, ordered the whole family out for a walk.

When we return from our walk, I notice a yellow envelope on our doorstep. In it I find a copy of the New Era magazine. And it contains an article I submitted to the magazine one year earlier.

I could almost hear the Lord’s reassuring voice, telling me that if I just keep plugging along, good things will happen.

Embarrassing Example Number Two. I hate clothes shopping for myself. I have the hardest time finding clothes that I both like and that look good on my body type. But before our recent vacation, I wanted some new clothes (the horror of being dressed the same in vacation photos as several years earlier!), so my husband watched the kids while I went on a “shopping spree.”

It didn’t go so well. In five hours, I’d only found a handful of items to bring home. And most of them I’d just bought so I’d have something to show for my trip.

Five hours – it still makes me feel a little panicky!

Anyway, when I returned home again, I discovered that one of the two items that made the trip kind of worth it – a pair of pants – was missing. Had I dropped them? Had someone stolen them from my bag when I wasn’t looking?

I confess, my attitude when I realized the pants were missing…horrible. I pretty much raged against God (“You know how hard it is for me to find clothes, and you still let this happen to me!?”). You may judge my reaction excessive (and it was), but if you felt the same way about shopping as I do (a terrible cycle of initial hope and eventual disappointment), you’d at least understand.

The next day, I felt like I ought to return to the store to see if the unlikely thing had happened – maybe the pants hadn’t made it into the bag in the first place? As it turns out, that’s exactly what had happened.

Oops. Sorry, God! And thank you for being so good to me despite my terrible attitude.

Embarrassing Example Number Three. We recently returned from a trip to Europe, where we got to see our families and have some much needed family time. But wow, traveling isn’t easy – especially with kids!

At the beginning of the trip, after a less than ideal flight and a few nights of battling jet-lagged kids in the middle of the night, my attitude was…horrible. (do you see the pattern??) I never wanted to travel again. Ever. And I never wanted to write again either! (Something else about me: one hardship quickly snowballs into me wanting to give up on everything. I know, I’m pathetic.)

But we were in Sweden, after all, so we had to do something. My home town was having a town celebration, so we decided to at least check it out.

At the event, the Coast Guard displayed two of their boats. I got to tour them and ask some questions. Done with touring for the day, the coast guard removed the boats only minutes after we got there. But somehow, my husband, one of my sons, and I ended up going along for the ride to their station up the harbor. (and we were the the only “civilians” who got to)

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that I’m writing a book that involves the Swedish coast guard. And that I would have been too much of a coward to contact them for a personal tour of their boats.

Skeptics will dismiss these three experiences as coincidences. And that’s fine – they certainly could have been. But the thing is, I had a very distinct impression they weren’t coincidences.

They were tender mercies. And the tenderest of tender mercies at that – in none of these three instances did I “deserve” anything from the Lord. (except maybe to be struck by lightning because of my horrible attitude). And yet there He was, watching out for me, showering me with tokens of affection and encouragement. With events designed just for me.

He is so good. And clever.

I feel to add that I noticed a pattern in these experiences. In all three instances, I did something. Something other than whine, even. I wrote an article. I returned to the store. I attended a town celebration.

The Lord will work miracles and shower us with His tender mercies, but we often have to do something, too. Sometimes not much more than roll out of bed, at other times more.

But one thing we all can do?

Keep our eyes open. If we do, we will see the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives.

 

What tender mercies of the Lord have you seen in your life?

Comments

  1. Sharman says:

    As usual, Angelica, you nailed it! It’s so easy to go from disappointment to complete and utter despondency–what a mission companion of mine referred to as “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” (a surprising and vivid metaphor). Thanks for the reminder about those tender mercies.

    • angelicahagman says:

      Thank you, Sharman! I like that saying, too. Makes me wonder how many babies I’ve thrown out…(symbolically, of course)

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