Thursday, December 24, 2009

President Marion G. Romney, who served as a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, is a wonderful example of someone who asks faithful questions. I particularly want to share an account of how President Romney responded when his wife, Ida, suffered a stroke in early 1967. She lay in the hospital for weeks giving no sign that she recognized President Romney when he visited.

During this period, following priesthood blessings, fasting, prayer and nevertheless a continued worsening of Ida's condition, President Romney's response was one of great reticence to counsel the Lord. If His will was to take her, President Romney did not want to pray for something else. And yet, he had said on numerous occasions about his wife "She is the best part of me. I could never carry on alone."

He searched the scriptures and fasted to develop his faith and learn how to demonstrate it to the Lord. He didn't directly ask the Lord to heal his wife, though this was never far from his heart. Rather, he worried whether he had the right to ask for this blessing. He observed that the Lord hadn't healed President McKay who was very ill. "He hasn't healed others who are in as great a need as I," he said. "Who am I to ask for a blessing? Why should the Lord answer my prayers?'" (p.140)

He struggled with this internal conflict for some time, continuing to read, to pray, and to fast. One evening, shortly after returning from a visit to Ida in the hospital where he had found her unchanged, he went to the Book of Mormon and began to read. He read in the Book of Helaman about the prophet Nephi who had been falsely condemned as he sought to teach the people. A particular passage in this account touched his heart more than he had ever felt before. The scripture read

"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will." (Hel. 10:4-5)

President Romney felt personal confirmation that the Lord accepted him. He felt that by "refusing to ask a special favor without first ascertaining the will of the Lord he had unknowingly demonstrated the quality of his faith." He knew that his faith had not been found wanting. Brother Howard writes: "With awe, [President Romney] fell to his knees. The scripture was the direct answer to many prayers. More than anything else he wanted to know the Lord's will for Ida. He was willing to let her go or if need be he would care for her in whatever condition the Lord wanted her to be in. As he concluded his prayer with the phrase 'thy will be done,' he seemed to feel or hear a voice which said "it is not contrary to my will that Ida be healed." (pp. 141-142)

Quickly he put on his coat and tie and went to the hospital. Arriving there at 3:00 am, he entered her room and placed his hands upon her head. Brother Howard records what happened next. "She didn't move or give any sign of recognition. He then invoked the power of the priesthood and pronounced a simple blessing upon her, uttering the incredible promise that she would recover her health and mental powers and yet perform a great mission upon the earth. Even though he did not doubt, [President Romney] was astonished to see Ida's eyes open as he concluded the blessing. He sat down on the bed and listened to her frail voice ask 'for goodness sakes Marion what are you doing here?' In total surprise he responded 'Ida how are you?' With a flash of humor which showed that she was not totally unaware of her circumstances, Ida Romney replied 'Compared to what Marion, compared to what?'" (p. 142) Thereafter, Ida recovered fully and miraculously.
--Marion G. Romney, His Life and Faith, Bookcraft, F. Burton Howard, 1988.

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