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Dear Gramps,

Almost 2 years ago I learned that I was expecting twins. After having some issues with bleeding in the beginning of the pregnancy my husband gave me a priesthood blessing. In it he stated that both babies would be healthy and that I would carry them both full-term. Later on there was concern about the slow growth of the second baby. I received another blessing which stated that these trials would be trivial and make it possible for me to carry both babies full-term. Halfway through my pregnancy I lost the second baby. I received yet another blessing which told me that my child had other work to do and was needed elsewhere. I have great faith in the power of priesthood blessings, but the first and second blessings obviously contradict the final blessing and the outcome of my pregnancy. I know that God does not contradict himself and I am left feeling very confused. Do you have any thoughts concerning this that might enlighten me and help me understand?

Faithful and Confused

 

 

Answer

 

Dear Faithful,

I was raised in the Church, have served in the priesthood since my youth, but I still felt like an unlettered schoolboy when Elder Oaks spoke about priesthood blessings in the April 2010 General Conference. He lists five elements to a blessing, the last three applying to your case:

1. The anointing

2. The sealing of the anointing

3. Faith

4. The words of the blessing, and

5. The will of the Lord

FAITH – I hesitate to bring this up because the last thing you need is to add guilt to your loss, but for the sake of completeness I must mention that the blessings of heaven are predicated on the active faith of the saints. Blessings can be nullified when the recipient ceases to act in faith. President Kimball reminds us, “‘Thy faith hath made thee whole‘ was repeated so often by the Master that it almost became a chorus.”

THE WORDS OF THE BLESSING – It’s possible that you remember the blessing differently than your husband; it’s a surprisingly frequent experience. Take a look at the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both received it from John the Baptist and recorded the ordination. Joseph writes John’s words as “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (Joseph Smith – History v69). While Oliver Cowdery gives us a variation on the same ordination, “Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!” (See footnote). Although similar, the difference is significant in that Joseph’s version makes it sound like there will come a time when Aaronic Priesthood is removed. It’s possible that the version of your blessing you remember is subtly different from what actually was, leading to this confusion.

It’s also possible that your husband was unclear in the blessing he pronounced. I have given blessings where I have a distinct impression of what should be conveyed, but somewhere between my mouth and the listener’s ears that precision was lost. I suspect that this lack of clarity is why only patriarchs have their blessings recorded word for word. Most priesthood holders do not bless regularly enough to really master this skill.

Additionally, it’s also possible that husband misspoke altogether. Even Elder Oaks admits, “like most who officiate in healing blessings, I have often struggled with uncertainty on the words I should say” and reminds us that “every elder who gives a blessing is subject to influence by what he desires for the person afflicted.”

WILL OF THE LORD – Finally, it is also possible that you and your husband were completely faith-filled, the Lord’s revealed will was exactly what you remember hearing in the blessing, but the Lord’s will changed between two of the blessings. I could present some scenarios, but this would all be speculation on my part.

In seeking understanding, ask your husband about his recollection of the blessings. Also, be sure to seek the Lord’s input on this subject. You are looking for a personalized answer, and only He can give one.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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