Frozen February has passed, and March has come roaring in to take its place. February was a trying month for many, and, despite the warming temperatures, I still find myself shivering off last month’s final icy traces. Amidst the dreary, grey days, daily stresses, and mundane tasks, however, I can always find relief through good music—especially when that music points my mind and my heart heavenward. The pairing of inspired melody and sacred verse warms my soul. This week, then, I want to share one of my very favorite hymns, Roger Hoffman’s “Consider the Lilies.”
“Consider the lilies of the field…”
On the Mount of the Beatitudes, the Savior Jesus Christ invited His disciples to “consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29). I don’t think there is any designer, seamstress, or tailor who has ever matched the simple elegance and honest beauty of the Creator’s handiwork , for the world is full of beauty from the magnificent lilies in the field to the majestic mountains with their snowy peaks. Seeing that beauty, do we remember that the Being who “clothe[d] the grass of the field” is literally our Father? “Shall he not much more clothe you?” the Savior asked in the same way that He drew the multitude’s attention to the birds of the sky, saying “they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
I love the way the book of Genesis tells of the Creation. It says that God created the heaven and the earth, the land and the sea, plants, animals, fowls, and fishes. He hung the stars in the heavens and set the moon in orbit around the earth. After that work, He saw His creation, and “it was good” (Genesis 1:25). Then He created man and woman, finally putting His own children on the earth that had been created just for them. It was only then that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). If all of God’s creation only became “very good” in His sight once He put man and woman on it, doesn’t that illustrate just how much He values us—you and me—over the birds of the sky? Doesn’t it show just how willing He is to take care of our needs and address our righteous wants?
“Though the path may wind across the mountains, He knows the meadows where they feed…”
Often, it’s hard to see God’s wisdom at work in our trials, but that is more of a testament to our ignorance than to God’s indifference. One of my favorite passages of the Old Testament is found in Isaiah 55. It says:
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Rain cannot fall to the earth without watering it and causing life to spring up where it falls; similarly, we cannot receive God’s word nor do His will without it being for our benefit. To tie it back to the verse of music, we may not see much beyond the winding mountain paths that we find ourselves on, but He knows the meadows where we feed. He knows where we need to be in order to find safety and happiness, and He knows how to get us there. As long as we follow Him in faith, He will get us there—even if it means we have to climb a mountain or two along the way.
“The pains of all of them He carried from the day of His birth…”
The most important thing to remember in all this is that we don’t walk those mountain paths alone. The Lord is not one to point out our destination and watch us recede into the distance, nor is He one to wait for us on the finish line, unconcerned with the upsets along the way. Rather, our Savior walks alongside us, and He knows perfectly what we think and feel as we struggle towards greener pastures. The Book of Mormon teaches:
He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people…. And he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:11-12)
Jesus Christ understands perfectly what we suffer because He suffered it too, and, with His infinite love, He wants to help us to overcome the difficulties we face. Not only did He suffer our pains and infirmities, but He overcame them, and that means that He has not only the desire to help us to overcome, but the power necessary to make it happen.
“And He will heal those who trust Him and make their hearts as gold…”
“Come unto me,” the Savior says, “all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). There can be great comfort in knowing that, for however difficult things may seem, the Savior always has His hand outstretched to lift us when we struggle. I can think of several occasions in which the Lord has helped me to overcome challenges that I didn’t have the strength to overcome—and I know that, as long as I remember Him and trust Him enough to let Him help me, He will see me through many more. That is the wonderful thing—our Savior is not a passive one. In fact, He is actively engaged and invested in our well-being. When He was on the earth, He went about doing good, spreading joy, and easing burdens. Surely, now that He has ascended into heaven, resurrected and glorified, His character of love and service and His capacity to provide them have only increased. It can be hard sometimes for us to walk the mountain paths and believe that the grass really is greener on the other side. However, it gets easier when we remember that Christ is the Good Shepherd who will lead us, heal us, and show us the way to become better people. And it gets even easier when we remember that He has promised us rest and that He has the capacity to keep that promise perfectly. He can indeed purify us, heal us, and lift us to heaven where, as the Apostle John wrote, “They [or we] shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17).
I know great things await those who press on in faith. Trials will arise—there is no doubt of that—but if God cares enough to feed the birds of the sky, He will certainly care for us, His sons and daughters. So consider the lilies of the field and their silent promise that God will care for us with tenderness and love—for that is His greatest desire and joy.