All of us experience trial and heartache. There’s no way to go through this life without it. Some of our trials are monumental and almost insurmountable, and some are smaller yet still painful and difficult. We all have different ways of handling the hardship we face. For small things, I like to curl up in front of a good TV show with a big bowl of ice cream. Not all problems, however, can be treated with a few scoops of mint chocolate chip.
The Bingham family, currently living in Oregon, has been dealt more than their fair share heartache. Three of their five children have been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that can be fatal. The Binghams are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a faith often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon church), and they have unique and powerful ways of handling their adversities.
The Binghams’ Story
When Sierra, Jason and Stacy Bingham’s oldest daughter, was six, she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, and after a whirlwind of medical care and angst, Sierra received a heart transplant. This alone was an intense and rigorous experience. The Binghams thought that their family’s heart concerns were behind them. Then their third child was diagnosed with the same condition.
Lindsay, the second of the Bingham children to be diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, also needed a transplant, and when she received hers, Sierra’s body started to reject her transplant from six years previous. Through medical treatment, doctors were able to stabilize Sierra’s heart and body, but the Binghams are still left with anxiety and concern. Their son Gage started exhibiting signs of heart failure when he was only three. The Binghams’ medical journey is far from over.
Trusting in Priesthood Blessings
Each of their children who have had heart difficulties have also received priesthood blessings. Mormons believe in the “laying on of hands,” as practiced in the Old and New Testaments. Men in The Church of Jesus Christ can be ordained to offices within the priesthood, predicated on worthiness. Through the priesthood, which is the exercising of the power of God, worthy holders can administer blessings of healing and comfort.
Sierra, Lindsay, and Gage all received special priesthood blessings when they were in the throes of their medical emergencies. These blessings call down the powers of God to heal, support, and comfort the recipients. The most important thing to know about blessings, however, is that those involved need to trust in God and in His will and timing.
Mormons Believe in Miracles
When Lindsay was facing the same road that Sierra walked earlier, Jason wrote on the family blog that God blessed Sierra with a miracle and that He could do the same for Lindsay. Mormons believe in miracles and know that God’s power knows no bounds or limitations. The Binghams understand that God has His own plan for their family, and while they may not know the details, they do know that God loves them and is caring for each of them.
We should note that not every situation results in the miracles we pray for. Again, God has His own plans for us, and we need to trust that His will is wiser and more grand than our own. Heavenly Father will always lead us to Him and will always empower us to handle whatever trials we face. Having faith in God doesn’t mean that everything works out the way we want it to; what it does mean is that we can trust that whatever happens will be for our good and eternal growth.
Stacy and John admitted on their blog that at the time of Sierra’s transplant, they thought that had checked that trial off of their life list. After their experiences with Lindsay and Gage, however, they have come to realize that perhaps that initial situation with Sierra prepared them for the challenges their family would face later in life. Faith in God means that we can gain a broader and more eternal perspective, so that we may better handle the trials we will inevitably face.
Mormons Serve Each Other
Apart from the emotional tax this experience has had on the Binghams, these ongoing medical issues have been wearing physically and financially. Mormons who go to church with the Binghams have reached out in love to help in whatever ways they can. In Mormon congregations, this often means providing meals, childcare, and even financial help. One of the Binghams’ friends created a donation site where anyone can donate money to help cover the costs of the family’s medical care.
The Church of Jesus Christ places immense value on serving others. They believe that often God uses His children on earth to answer the prayers of others, and in the case of the Binghams, that principle is lived in the lives of real people.
Trials aren’t easy–they were never meant to be. Sometimes we may ask God why we have to experience certain hardships, and in those times we need to trust in Him and know that He loves us. He will strengthen and support us as we make our way through this mortal life.