My mother has always loved her scriptures. There was never any doubt in my mind about that. I remember as a young girl how often I would find her poring over them at our round, oak kitchen table – marking pencils in hand. I remember the well-worn, gold-leaf edging and the colorful markings on every page. She always looked so eager and content – reading, feasting, writing tiny penned notes and quotes in her margins.
I’ll never forget the way she would reverently cradle her scriptures to her heart and say to us with tears in her eyes, “I love my scriptures so much. My family and my scriptures are my greatest treasures on earth.”
I heard her testify of this at home in our family home evening lessons, and I heard her testify in Portuguese as she taught in Mission and Stake Conferences all throughout Portugal when my father served as mission president.
But it wasn’t until after their 3-year mission that I witnessed firsthand the miraculous healing power of the scriptures in my mother’s life.
Shortly after returning home, my mother was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, acquired while serving as a missionary. Fortunately, it wasn’t contagious, but unfortunately, there wasn’t a cure. For several painful years she visited many physicians and specialists, underwent tests, and took medications that left her weak and sick as they tried to stop the bacteria from spreading. But eventually the lesions grew too large, creating a life threatening circumstance. With all other treatment options exhausted the physicians recommended a surgical procedure called a thoracotomy to remove the diseased areas of the lung and to reconstruct the chest wall.
It was just a few weeks before my daughter was born when her surgery was performed. I remember scrubbing the floors, cupboards, and counters of our rental house to numb the fear I felt for my mother. I prayed and worried and prayed more fervently. Later I learned how complicated and painful the surgery was, and how dark and miserable the hospital recovery had been for my sweet mother. Due to severe complications, she could only tolerate over the counter pain medications. Because of the seriousness of her condition she required an extended Intensive Care Unit and general hospital stay.
On one particularly horrific night, she wasn’t sure she would live until the morning. But instead of giving in to despair, she reached over with the little strength she had, picked up her cell phone, and called her sister. Though she could barely talk, she managed to whisper her plea: “Could you please read to me from the Book of Mormon?”
During the darkest hours of the night my kind aunt stayed up with her for hours, reading chapter after chapter of the holy scriptures. And though the blackness stretched long and agonizing, the hope of dawn’s light eventually broke through the shadows. My mother had made it through the night by drawing upon the peace that comes by holding fast to the word of God.
After my mother’s hospital experience I often heard her quote and bear personal testimony of a doctrinal truth taught by Elder Richard G. Scott in the October 2011 General Conference:
“Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.”
Eventually, my mother recovered from her surgery. The disease is still a thorn in her flesh, but her story of faith in the power of God’s word, in the power of the Book of Mormon, stands as a rich legacy to me. No matter the storms that may come to each of us, an unsurpassable peace can be kindled in our hearts as we hold fast to the word of God.
The powerful testimony of my mother, so often repeated, will forever echo in my heart:
“The reason the Book of Mormon, as well as the other holy scriptures, bring such peace to my life is because they teach of Christ, testify of His doctrines, and turn me to Him, He who is the Prince of Peace.”
Learn the principles of peace by learning from the Prince of Peace.
Join the Easter initiative #PrinceOfPeace launching March 31st
You can find more details of how to participate by visiting this link: mormon.org/easter