Elder Bednar gave a CES address that I listened to after the fact (thanks to my roommate who put it on in the living room) and I was touched by the strange way (strange? I guess in the gospel it's never strange... instead, a tender mercy that still can catch one off guard) what he spoke of so aptly set out to sooth the tender places within my own heart.
At the core of his stories and words of guidance was this: that staying faithful to the promises of the Lord is more important than receiving the promises.
"Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality can only be received through the things we experience and sometimes suffer," he said. He reflected on time spent with Elder Neal A. Maxwell before his death: "During the course of our conversations that day, I asked Elder Maxwell what lessons he had learned through his illness," Elder Bednar said. "I will remember always the precise and penetrating answer he gave. 'Dave,' he said, 'I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving.'"
To further illustrate this he told the story of a newly married couple who faced the extraordinary challenge of cancer when he was diagnosed and they began a long fight with the illness. When they asked for a blessing, with the expectation of one of healing, Elder Bednar asked first if they had the faith "not to be healed."
"In other words, [they] needed to overcome, through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, the 'natural man' tendency in all of us to demand impatiently and insist incessantly on the blessings we want and believe we deserve," he said. "We recognized a principle that applies to every devoted disciple: strong faith in the Savior is submissively accepting of His will and timing in our lives — even if the outcome is not what we hoped for or wanted," he said.
"Even with strong faith, many mountains will not be moved," he said. "And not all of the sick and infirmed will be healed. If all opposition were curtailed, if all maladies were removed, then the primary purposes of the Father's plan would be frustrated."
...the purpose of changing us the way that only a great challenge can do. The way only a trial of our faith can teach us patience and humility -- and put us is the position where our choice to continue in faith has real significance because it was not easy to do so.
Sister Bednar also spoke -- before her husband, but I feel her words apply here. She spoke of the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ which "strengthens us to do hard things, things we don't think we can do when we don't understand God's will and timing in our lives."
We are all asked to continue on doing hard things that we, at times, feel are beyond our strength. To continue on not receiving the blessings we righteously desire and have been told we need not "earn" because the Lord desires to bless us, and yet only see given to others. We cannot fully understand why and in the depths of our despair the only question we have to ask is "why?"
But to continue on trusting God, even when our lives take a direction we do not desire and our hopes are not met is to stay faithful to the promises of God even when it seems those promises will not be fulfilled. And staying faithful is more important than receiving -- even when it breaks our hearts.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;