Some Things I Know, Some Things I Don’t: And I Struggle to Not Allow The First to Be Held Hostage to the Second
By Ken K. Gourdin
There is tons of stuff I don’t know. While most of it has little, if anything, to do with aspects of the history or doctrine or practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have my own “faith crises”: “Why hast Thou thus dealt with me, Lord?” Why, given the unmistakable occasions when the Lord has spoken peace to my very soul, do the Heavens seem to be absolute, pure brass on other matters about which I have inquired earnestly? Why the lack of the “happily-ever-after” endings that, allegedly, are supposed to result when I have striven earnestly to discern and to follow the will of the Lord for me, personally, often even persisting in doing so (however haltingly and imperfectly) through considerable hardship?
I dunno. With Nephi, I can only say, “I know that [God] loveth His children. Nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). Like Nephi, often, my heart groans when I desire to rejoice. Nevertheless, “I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Nephi 4:19). With Job, I can only say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath [withheld]. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21), and “Though [God] slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). With the man who sought that the Savior might heal his son who had been vexed by evil spirits, I can say only, “Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). With the Apostle Paul and the Corinthians, I am “troubled on every side, yet not distressed”; “perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). As Alma told his son, Helaman, I can only say, “I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).
It’s as though the Lord tells me, “Yes, Ken. If you choose, you can choose to privilege your ‘brass heavens’ moments above the did-I-not-speak-peace-to-your-mind-concerning-the-matter moments we’ve had together (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23). You can maximize the former while discounting or disregarding the latter. Or you can do the opposite. But that’s your choice.” Honestly, as I’ve said here before, a big part of me wants to “curse God and die,” as Job’s wife told him he should do (see Job 2:9), and, frankly, even in a literal sense rather than simply in a metaphorical one. But if I were to do that, Christ’s (rather plaintive, it seems to me) query to His Apostles when many of His disciples “went back, and walked no more with Him,” “Will ye also go away?” would remain. I’d have to ask myself, as Peter did, “Lord, to whom shall (I) go. Thou hast the words of Eternal Life” (see John 6).
I’ve told of my medical misadventures (two failed attempts at hip reconstruction, each followed by a month and a half completely immobilized in plaster and months of painful, grueling, and ultimately fruitless physical therapy, which, fortunately, were followed by three consecutive successes without casts even though being casted was a distinct possibility on each occasion) and my gigantic law school misadventure here ad nauseam. No, I’m not licensed. Will I ever be? Will I ever secure even law-related employment, let alone be licensed? Who knows? If God knows, for reasons only He can fathom, He hasn’t told me … at least, He hasn’t done so in a way I’ve recognized. “No, Ken. You didn’t have to stick it out in law school … as long as you didn’t mind answering phones all workday, every workday for the rest of your working life.” But then, that’s what I’ve been doing for the better part of the last four years anyway. Go figure!
Unanswered questions, past perplexing experiences, and current bewildering circumstances notwithstanding, I can neither forget nor deny the occasions on which I have had peace spoken to my very soul: “Ken, don’t forget how you felt during our ‘did-I-not-speak-peace-to-your-mind-concerning-the-matter’ moments on January 24 and February 14, 1984, and on June 5, 1985 (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23). Just trust me now as you did then. Lean on my ample arm, and whatever it is, I’ll get you through it now just as I’ve gotten you through past bewildering experiences.” Perhaps I’m simply stubborn, but if I give up that hope, what else do I have left? I have simply determined, as best I can, to not let what I do know be held hostage to what, as yet, I do not know.