Two of the most pivotal moments in my life have been massively influenced by reading the word 'nevertheless' after going to the scriptures for help and answers through some challenges. I'll share the two scriptural examples, both from, you might have guessed it, our friend Nephi.
Nevertheless I went forth. -1 Nephi 4:7
Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. -2 Nephi 4:19
I'm going to copy and paste from my journal after my first profound encounter with this word:
How have I never considered the power of 'nevertheless'?! The definition is: "opposition to any thing, or without regarding it. ‘It rained, nevertheless, we proceeded on our journey;’ we did not the less proceed on our journey; we proceeded not less than we had already planned because of the rain. We proceeded in opposition to the rain, without regarding it, or without being prevented." Oppose the opposition. Of course that's what Heavenly Father wants us to do! Opposition in ALL things means WE should oppose the seeming opposition we face! Talk about being an agent who ACTS rather than being acted upon. Yes!!!!
So this might not seem that revelatory, but dig a little deeper.
How do we oppose the opposition we encounter? How do we define opposition? Of course these are broad questions to consider, but let me share some of the thoughts I've had after pondering this a great deal.
Well, let me start with what brought me to write about this subject tonight. I have a cold. I moved a week ago and have unpacking, organizing, and LIFE to do and for a week now I have had a cold. I've been drinking more fluids, trying to go to bed early, and using the other typical remedies. Yet tonight, I went to the Lord in prayer about my cold. I quite simply asked if I could be healed of my cold. Thankfully, I paused long enough to hear the whisperings of the spirit suggesting that I ask if there is anything I should DO that I haven't been doing in order to be healed of this cold. In response to my asking that, I was given very precise instructions to take a bath with Epsom salts. I followed through and
Now before you go thinking this is a post about the power of hot baths and/or Epsom salts, think again. This post has almost nothing to do with colds, baths, or salt of any kind. (Well, perhaps the salt of the earth).
What I'm talking about is our response to opposition, our decision to take full responsibility for our lives, to use that accountability TO ACT - IN UNION with the will of God as we commune with Him about the things we face, and to act as ONE with Jesus Christ, using the enabling power of His infinite atonement.
With a nevertheless attitude, I proclaim with conviction that I have experienced miracles, some seemingly small and some unmistakably profound. (Yet to experience a miracle is truly never small in scope or impact).
When President Nelson said this in October 2018:
I loved the phrase "counterstrategies and proactive plans." When studying his words later, I realized he was talking about having a nevertheless attitude! I realized, we might conceptually box-in the adversary's attacks with ideas that, while true, do not capture the scope of adversarial influences in our lives. While it is important to recognize adversarial influences and attacks for what they are, it is profoundly MORE important to recognize, remember, and rely upon the power of Jesus Christ and His atonement even more exponentially. This level of awareness involves ZERO fear and 100% confidence in Jesus Christ and responsibility to do the will of God, keeping in mind this important perspective from Elder Andersen:
To have our spiritual awareness this broadly attuned, we can take all setbacks in life to the Lord with ABSOLUTE trust and conviction and TRUE BELIEF that all things really are possible to those that believe, that with Christ all things are possible, that all things really do work together for the good of those who love the Lord. And with that attitude, as we trust in HIS will and timing and truly listen with the intent to DO what we are counseled to do in the face of whatever the opposition might be, we can begin to see the power of faith in Jesus Christ and power in the priesthood bring to pass mighty miracles.
To anyone who might be thinking, 'So you're suggesting that your cold came from Satan?' Well, that is not really what I'm suggesting, though this could be a topic for another post because I have more to say on the matter. But what I'm suggesting is that we harness the POWER of OPPOSITION in ALL THINGS... combine our faith in Jesus Christ with the ability to receive revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost and ACT as AGENTS in ALL THINGS! And acting like that in response to the major and minor blows of life WILL OPPOSE Satan, whether he orchestrated events to cause my cold or whatever else the opposition might be. Certainly, the adversary wants us to THINK that we are mere victims in everything and to wade through the opposition with a martyr-type 'enduring spirit' WITHOUT thinking to go to the Lord and ASK for help AND DO what He counsels us to do.
To anyone who might be rolling their eyes, because I feel it happening, though those who would be doing so probably wouldn't have read this far.... I get it. There's more going on out there than just colds. TRUST ME. I KNOW. I used that example because it was easy and literally just happened. I KNOW! Yes, my cold is better tonight, but my daughter still has cerebral palsy and is in the hospital almost as much as she's home, my dad passed away in November after a 5-year roller-coaster ride of multiple types of cancer ate away at his body, my husband and I have struggled financially for three years after following what we were guided by the Lord to do in changing career paths. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not suggesting in ANY WAY that our faith in Jesus Christ makes life a hunky dory carnival ride. Without question, I know from profoundly painful personal experience that an easy way is NOT the plan. It's not the plan because it wouldn't work and that's not what we eagerly signed up for.
But, or should I say NEVERTHELESS... the plan DOES work. The way, or should I say Jesus Christ, takes us on a hard, rough, sometimes painful, sometimes mundane, often confusing journey that is oftentimes beautiful only when we pause to look back and see where we've been. Yet, I simply KNOW that we can and should anticipate more miracles along the way. As we do, with an attitude of 'but if not...' and 'Thy will be done,' not only our circumstances but also WE will be changed in ways seen and unseen. We will create unshakable faith in ourselves and all those who see our example.
I mentioned my daughter's cerebral palsy and after writing about our example, I feel compelled to share that one of the examples when nevertheless impacted my life was when, after having given up for several years on the idea of my daughter ever being healed in this life, I had been having stirrings in my soul to continue to hope and increase in faith. So I studied hope and I studied faith and I tried to put into practice what I was learning, but it was so painful. Being in a place of acceptance that she would be healed in the next life was much more peaceful than the pain of asking for a miracle only to see her continue to suffer in her body and conditions worsen rather than improve. So one time I was praying if it would be okay to just go back to acceptance rather than face the heart-wrenching agony of a mother's prayers seemingly going unanswered. And I read, 'nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.' And I did and I do trust my Heavenly Father. I know His love so I know that if He is telling me to keep hoping, there must be a reason. I've certainly felt and experienced His 'no' answers to requests for healing before so He must have a reason. So with those thoughts and a 'nevertheless attitude,' I went to Him in prayer and started asking different questions. If I am supposed to hope that Chloe can be healed and increase in faith, yet it is apparently not the timing for the miracle, then what am I supposed to be doing or learning along the way? Who can I be helping along the way as we work toward the miracle? Can I learn the reason(s) why we have to wait? And certainly not immediately nor all at once, but over time, over days and months and years of continued struggle with her health issues, I began to be taught through experience and tutored in the spirit some of the answers to some of my questions:
'Be grateful for the pain and your eyes will be open to the blessings of it.'
'Be grateful for the opportunity to be an example to these people this day.'
Over and over and over again the answer is 'Do you trust me?' So often the answer is a question. Sometimes the question is 'How would you like to see this go?' ...and He puts me to work trying to think of a solution to the current issue. It was especially fun when I worked with the Lord in answer to that question when we needed financial help at the beginning of this year. Truly, the Lord's ways are not our ways, but they are infinitely superior and the outcomes grander than we can dare to imagine.
I hope this post isn't coming across as some sort of Miracles 101 course. No one could give that course except for the Lord. The Savior IS the Exemplar. The Lord is your personal mentor. The various miracles you need and how you will find your way to those miracles and the myriad of possibilities for what that will look and feel like for you in your situation -- there is no handbook for that. But there is a handbook for believing that you are known and loved by the Creator of the universe and that Jesus Christ has completed all that is required to redeem you and your circumstances as you ACT in faith on His name. The 'handbook' is the Word of God, which includes the scriptures, but also includes modern day revelation to prophets and apostles, and personal revelation.
I just think if a figurative or literal mountain needs to moved one day, it might be wise to have practiced bringing to pass miracles by overcoming a cold or anxiety or bad eating habits or financial stress or [insert your issue here].
So may I suggest that we all implement at least one monumental counterstrategy against the adversary's attacks and create a proactive plan to take the Lord's advice to:
ask and be believing
in all things give thanks
...and many more. In short, to 'DO and not just say' or talk about or think about what He teaches in the scriptures. We can take ALL things to Him and watch Him work things out for us for our good! And no matter what that looks like, to us it can look like and be received as the hoped-for miracle. And the moment that is how we live and respond, WE become the hoped-for miracle, changed through Christ. Unshakable. UNAFRAID. Forever grateful. Always hopeful. Ever determined not only to experience opposition in all things, but to CREATE opposition to all things that oppose us as we work alongside the Lord to bring to pass HIS work and glory. In considering that that means the immortality and eternal life of all mankind, let's keep that in proper perspective, as President Nelson put it in the Christmas devotional:
I invite you, as King Benjamin did for Saints in his day, to “consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.” That blessing is for us here and now... a gift from our Savior is actually a promise—a promise of life everlasting. This does not mean simply living for a really, really, really long time. Everyone will live forever after death, regardless of the kingdom or glory for which they may qualify. Everyone will be resurrected and experience immortality. But eternal life is so much more than a designation of time. Eternal life is the kind and quality of life that Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son live. When the Father offers us everlasting life, He is saying in essence, “If you choose to follow my Son—if your desire is really to become more like Him—then in time you may live as we live. -Russell M. Nelson
It is my sincere testimony that we can live in a blessed and happy state, here and now, amid the hard things, experiencing a quality of life that is peaceful in a way that surpasses understanding. As we withhold our limited perspective and our judgment based on that limited perspective, receiving and experiencing life with profound gratitude, our life can BE an act of WORSHIP, praising Him, testifying of Eternal Life, because that can be the quality of life we radiate if we choose to really TRUST Him and BELIEVE Him and PRAY to Him and FEAST on His word. And it does not and will not go unnoticed. The Lord has covenanted with His people and HE KEEPS HIS PROMISES. So use your counterstrategies. It is not complex. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is simple and true. Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can oppose every bit of opposition we face and experience eternal life all along the way.