With this talk I made a conscious effort to focus on stories. I did the majority of my preparation by searching for stories dealing with healing from my own family history. I was previously unaware of all of these. Isn’t it wonderful how once we know the stories of our ancestors, they become heirlooms that remain in our minds forever?
Introduction: Frances Friend Baker
In 1849, my great-great-great-grandfather William Baker and 3-greats-grandmother Frances Friend emigrated from England to Australia. There they started a farm growing tobacco–which evidently William taught his family was “only to be for poultices on horses’ injured legs, etc. and wasn’t for the use of man.” Anyway, they also raised horses, cattle, and sheep and made clothes from the wool. Six years after having settled in Australia, “missionaries from America came teaching the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. William and Frances were impressed with their message. The Holy Spirit had testified of the truth of the missionaries’ teachings and they knew without a doubt that they could not deny it. They were baptized 31 May 1855.” Their history notes, “For some time Francis had been suffering from an issue of blood similar to the woman in the New Testament.”
Think of that woman in the New Testament who was suffering from an issue of blood–Mark indicates she was bleeding for 12 years! (Mark 5:25-34) I don’t know how long my great-great-great-grandmother suffered from her issue, it just says for “some time.” The woman in the new testament had spent all her money on seeing doctors and hadn’t gotten any better, and had actually gotten worse. She was likely anemic–feeling constantly tired and weak, and because she was constantly bleeding she would have been considered unclean according to the law of Moses–which would have socially isolated her. Anyone she touched would be considered unclean and would need to wash and purify him/herself in order to be clean again. Now, my 3-great’s-grandmother certainly didn’t have access to Midol or Ibuprofen or any of the other conveniences that women today have to alleviate what was essentially a never ending period. Brethren (men), we certainly don’t understand the ramifications of this to the extent that the Sisters (women) do.
As soon as this woman in the New Testament hears that Christ is nearby, she decides to go out and try to touch Him, reasoning that if she can just touch His clothes, she will be made whole. Similarly, my 3-great’s-grandmother, Frances, either before or soon after her baptism asked for a priesthood blessing from the missionaries–if they would “lay hands on her head.”
Now the New Testament woman, “When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment…. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.”
Similarly, following this priesthood blessing Frances, my ancestor, was healed from her affliction. Ever after that was a testimony to her of the power of the Priesthood of God which the missionaries held.
Woman with the Issue of Blood
Returning to the woman in the New Testament, upon touching Jesus’ clothes, “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.”
I imagine this woman was nervous or scared, she being unclean, had just touched a man of God. For all she knew, Jesus could react angrily, or the people or His disciples could become angry that He was now “unclean” by the law of Moses because He had been touched by an unclean woman.
“But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” (Mark 5:25-34)
Healing: Physical and Spiritual
Christ’s ministry was all about healing–both temporal and spiritual healing. Because of the Fall of Adam, the natural man had become an enemy to God–fallen man, and Christ had come to provide the necessary healing to allow men and women to yield themselves to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man/woman and become saints through the atonement of Christ, enabling them to become as children: submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon them (Mosiah 3:19).
There is a tie between the physical and the spiritual–they are connected. In Alma chapter 15, we read of Zeezrom. Earlier Zeezrom had tried to bribe and trick Amulek and Alma in order to discredit them in front of the people. As he contended with them, he became more aware of his guilt and error. In verse three it reads,
“And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.” (Alma 15:3)
Alma’s remembrance of his sins was so painful that he said, “Oh …that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, …and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.” (Alma 36:15)
On the opposite spectrum Lamoni, and his wife, show that a fullness of spiritual joy is connected to and can overpower the physical body. Lamoni awakes after his first spiritual coma per se and says, “For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth, and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name. Now, when he had said these words, his heart was swollen within him, and he sunk again with joy; and the queen also sunk down, being overpowered by the spirit.”
As one Jesuit priest said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1881-1955)
Christ healed both physical and spiritual illness. Indeed some of the names that Christ has been called include Physician and the Master Healer.
He healed physical blindness, and he also opened his disciples’ spiritual eyes to see.
When a paralytic is lowered through the roof of the home where Jesus is teaching, He says, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” And then to show that “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” (Matt. 9:2,4)
Christ brought miraculous healing of physical illness and ailments. And He also brought the Balm of Gilead–Repentance! The ability for us to be healed of spiritual ailments, if we will only follow the first principles and ordinances of His Gospel– namely, have faith in Him, Repent, Be Baptized (or partake of the sacrament), Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost (the purifying power of the Spirit), and continue doing that until the end of our lives. This is the process of conversion–and it leads to healing.
President Nelson taught:
“As I quote [Christ’s]words spoken at four different times and locations, note the pattern:
•To people of the Holy Land, the Lord said that His people “should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
•To people of ancient America, the resurrected Lord extended this invitation: “Return unto me, … repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you.”
•To leaders of His Church, He taught,“Continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them.”
•Later, during the “restitution of all things,” the Lord taught the Prophet Joseph Smith regarding the pioneers, “After their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them.”
The sequence of His pattern is significant. Faith, repentance, baptism, a testimony, and enduring conversion lead to the healing power of the Lord.”
Temple: The Lord’s House–A Place of Healing
Every temple bears the plaque “Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord.” And He has had these temples built in this last dispensation to provide a place wherein we can be healed and cleansed from the problems, blood, and sins of this generation. By attending the temple and participating in the ordinances there,both for ourselves and for our ancestors, we can find healing for ourselves and we can literally heal the family of God by reconnecting its members through the sealing power.
This reminds me of a story from one of my ancestors Jeannette “Nettie” McAllister, the daughter of Karl G. Maeser, considered the founder of Brigham Young Academy– which became Brigham Young University. Her father-in-law, Duncan McAllister, was working on the Salt Lake Temple. Nettie had recently stepped on a nail during the remodeling of her home and had contracted lockjaw and a subsequent infection. The doctors were recommending that her foot be amputated. Duncan had heard of Nettie’s ailment. This day though, as he worked, he heard the Spirit speak, “Go to Nettie”. Three times it told him, “Go to Nettie.” So he left and upon entering her home, he found her convulsing on the floor. He immediately laid his hands on her head and in a voice of authority and belief, in the name of Jesus Christ commanded her to be whole. And soon thereafter she was.
Faith Not to Be Healed
Our God is a God of miracles. However, whenever I hear stories such as these, I know that there are just as many where such miraculous healing did not occur.
I came across this story in my family history:
The son of Frances Baker, who I mentioned earlier, grew up in Minersville, Utah. He, Henry Friend Baker and his wife, Amy Walker Baker, ultimately had 12 children. In 1918 they had a farm in Minersville, UT. You see, starting in 1918 a global pandemic of flu broke out. They called it the Spanish flu and it was the deadliest in history. It infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide–about one third of the planet’s population and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.
In one year of the Spanish flu, more people died than in four years of the Black Death Bubonic plague from 1347-1351. During this time (1918-1920) they sold their farm in Minersville and bought a beautiful 10 acres of land in Nampa, Idaho. It had orchards, a creek, grapes, good soil, pheasants, and they mentioned that the climate was milder there. Noel Elbert (7) and Vance (5) were anxious young boys eager to move to the new farm. They kept urging their mother to hurry with the packing. As the family rode the train up to Nampa they were exposed to this Spanish flu. Amy Walker Baker said, “So many were coughing there.” She wrote in her history, “Elbert and Vance were the first to take the flu, then Blanche. …The whole family except Henry was down with the flu, and as it was a rather new disease or in a more severe form, the doctors didn’t know how to cope with it.” Elbert and Vance “grew worse as days passed by. We called in the elders and doctors.” They rubbed wintergreen liniment, a warming cooling ointment on Elbert twice a day (the wintergreen smell of which a surviving sibling disliked ever since), “and did [their] best to save them but to no avail.” Amy said, “The night before Elbert’s death, he wouldn’t let me leave his bedside, so I lay beside him. He put his arms around my neck and said, ‘Oh! Mama, I do love you.’ …Eight days later the call came for Vance. Seems they weren’t to be separated. They were always congenial and so near to each other, and always together. A day or two before his death during the noon meal, we heard him talking. Lois stepped in the room to see what he wanted. He said, ‘I’m not talking to you; I’m talking to Elbert.’ Later he said to me, ‘Elbert’s come to get me, I’ve got to go with Elbert.’ At his leaving Henry and I were there alone, standing side by side. Not a sound or sob was heard.”
We wonder, Why? Why did this have to happen–a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old? They called doctors and had the elders give blessings. These were people of faith.
Elder Bednar taught,
“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. …Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in moving mountains– if moving mountains accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in healing the sick, deaf, and lame–if such healing accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Thus, even if we have strong faith, many mountains will not be moved. And not all of the sick and infirm 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.”(Bednar Aug. 2016 “Accepting of the Lord’s Will & Timing”)
Our souls are like violin strings–they make music when they are stretched.
President Nelson taught,
“I recognize that, on occasion, some of our most fervent prayers may seem to go unanswered. We wonder, “Why?” I know that feeling! I know the fears and tears of such moments. But I also know that our prayers are never ignored. Our faith is never unappreciated. I know that an all-wise Heavenly Father’s perspective is much broader than is ours. While we know of our mortal problems and pain, He knows of our immortal progress and potential. If we pray to know His will and submit ourselves to it with patience and courage, heavenly healing can take place in His own way and time.”
Enabling & Succoring Power of the Atonement of Christ
And some times even when that healing doesn’t happen the way we want, we are given tender mercies to bear the burden of dealing with the absence of that healing.
As Vance passed away, Amy Walker Baker said, “Not a sound or sob was heard but the spirit was glorious and peaceful. When his spirit left his body, I looked toward the ceiling and said, ‘Oh, if I could only see the little darlings meet each other.’ Then I became unconscious to earthly surroundings. While in this condition I saw beyond this world a group of people assembled together waiting to welcome these two precious souls back home again. This experience… brings a firm testimony and evidence of life after death, and a consolation which cannot be found elsewhere. These are stepping stones to a higher, better life.”
In Mosiah 18, we learn that a part of our baptismal covenant is to be willing to“bear one another’s burdens… and to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-9) Fiona Givens, wife of Teryl Givens and co-author with him of many of his books, has commented that this is a formula for empathy–that in order to comfort those who stand in need of comfort we must first bear their burdens and mourn with them. We must sit with them, visit with them, minister to them, just be with them–in order to be able to comfort them. We must show empathy.
In that case, the condescension of Christ is the greatest act of empathy the universe has ever known. For God to come down and subject himself to the pains, frailties, temptations, and sufferings of mortality, and not only to become mortal but to “descend below them all” to “bear our griefs and carry our sorrows” to be “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-5) to “take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people”. All this that “his bowels maybe filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people.” (Alma 7:11-12)
Because Christ did this and has born our burdens and mourned with us through a mortal experience and has felt in His bowels and in His flesh the physical and spiritual pain of sickness and sin and shame and guilt and heart-wrenching loss–He knows not only theoretically, in principle, He knows–in the aching of the cells in His body, in shortness of breath, literally in the drops of blood from every pore–how to succor His people according to their infirmities. This much I know! He is able to forgive our sins, to heal our self-inflicted wounds –but not only this, He is able to succor us, to give us more of what we need–according to our infirmities so we can endure and keep on keeping on.
One of the most encouraging stories in all of scripture is in Mosiah 24 when a lost army of the Lamanites ends up finding Alma’s people in the Land of Helam. They are taken captive and an old “friend” of Alma’s from when he was a priest of King Noah’s is set to rule over them. He treats Alma’s people like slaves, giving them burdens and setting task masters over them–and he forbids them to pray, threatening to put to death anyone caught praying to God. So Alma’s people cry out to God in their hearts, and He hears their cries saying,
“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. … And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience”
…that they were then miraculously delivered out of bondage.
My Story of Healing
My senior year of high school I fell into a spiral of deep depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive behavior. I would put on a mask that all was fine at school, but inside I was a wreck and I’d come home, retreat into my room, and just cry. I would wake up in the morning and literally feel a cloud of gloom and anxiety just descend over my mind. This continued for months, with my angel mother being my heaven-sent source of support. I know my parents said many prayers on my behalf. I was hesitant to take any medication to help with my emotional and mental condition. I was afraid that if I did so, it would affect where I would be called to serve on my mission. If I put on my mission papers that I had taken medication for depression, would they send me? Or would it limit where I would have been called if I hadn’t taken the medication?So I foolishly held out continuing to plead for respite from my emotional and mental anguish. It wasn’t until one night as I read the letter of Moroni to Pahoran as Moroni chastised Pahoran for not making use of what was available to him that things began to change:
“Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?” (Alma 60:21.)
And the Spirit spoke to me and in that moment I knew that I was just sitting upon my butt and wasn’t making use of the medication and means that the Lord had provided for me. And that was the beginning of the Lord helping to deliver me from bondage and was Him visiting me in my affliction.
I know that Christ will deliver and heal us–-in His time and according to His way-–as we are converted and come to Him on the Gospel path-–faith, repentance, baptism (sacrament), and making and keeping temple covenants.
Malachi tells us that “unto those who fear [God’s name] shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” The Hebrew word that Malachi uses is kanaph meaning “wing or extremity skirt, corner of a garment.” So this scripture could be interpreted, “unto those who fear my name shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in the fringes of his robe.”As my 3-great’s-grandmother Frances knows, and as the woman in the New Testament who touched that fringe of His robe knows,–there is healing there in His wings, in the very fringes of His robe. Do you know that? Have you experienced that? Do you need to experience that again?
In His own words, “Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.”
That we may respond as they did then, by drawing near unto Him, is my prayer,
“And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them … every one.”
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.