January: Responsible for Our Own Learning
Children are always asking questions to their moms: “Why do I have to do that? When are we going to get there? How long do I need to stay?” Children want the answer right now. Often, those questions do not have an easy answer, at least not one that the child can understand right then. Sometimes, the issue is that children cannot understand the answer yet, because they don’t have the maturity, or they have not lived enough of life yet to gain the bigger picture to understand the rules. Sometimes, our children just need to rely on us, their parents, because we are older and have experienced more. They also need to have faith in our wisdom and advice. It is up to them to decide whether to take our advice or not.
Similarly, we may have questions. Family members or friends may have questions. And we don’t know the answers. But Heavenly Father does. Sometimes, he will not be able to answer those questions because of timing or we don’t have the spiritual maturity to understand the answers. Sometimes, the answer is – trust me and have faith.
In John 6, the Savior gave a sermon that the multitude had a difficult time understanding. The disciples, his closest and most faithful followers, did not understand his words. They would remember His words later and understand them after his resurrection and the sacrament was practiced. But at the beginning of the Savior’s ministry, the disciples did not understand His mission yet or the spiritual experience and maturity to completely get it.
After many members of the congregation left, never to return after Jesus, He turned to His most trusted chosen ones and asked them: “Will you also go away?”1
Peter’s answer is one that each of us should consider when we start to have questions: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”2 Our faith is on the rock or foundation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Anointed One of Israel and this is His Church – so where else would we go?
Peter’s answer did not mean that he understood the sermon or that he did not have questions. His declaration was one of faith. He was willing to step into the dark and act on his faith in Christ.
Modern Questions, But the Same Answer
My sister, Julia, wrote a beautiful poem during the COVID pandemic when so many people had questions arise. We were all stuck in our homes and life was going crazy around us with demonstrations over Black Life Matters, questions about masks, vaccines, political turmoil, and civil unrest. All these issues brought questions and many questions did not have immediate answers. Julia wrote this poem in response to those life questions.
“To Whom Shall We Go?”
By Julia Edwards Pratt
It didn’t make sense
And it sounded kind of weird.
Confused by the sermon,
They withdrew and they feared –
To go out on a limb.
Many disciples left,
“and walked no more with him.”
He asked the remaining few,
As He does today,
“Will you also go away?”
And I, like Peter
With a tear-stained face,
With questions unanswered
On marriage and race,
With doubts always needling,
But Spirit still revealing,
Answer with faith and hope to know –
“Lord, to whom shall [I] go?
Thou hast the words of eternal life,”
The “Covenant” binding man and wife,
The “Water” quenching every thirst,
The “Comforter” when times are worst,
The “Rod” that leads me through the grey,
The “Book” that gets me through each day,
The “Bread” that fills and nourishes,
The “Light” that guides and flourishes.
These promises are sure and strong
So joy and peace can be my song.
“[I] believe and [am] sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (John 6:60-69)
Hopefully, the joy of the Lord will carry us through the questions we may have from our everyday life. When we are sick or afflicted, we may feel like our children and ask our Father: “Why do I have to do that? When are we going to get there? How long do I need to stay?” But His answer is one of love: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” As we show our love