Blessed by the Priesthood

“Blessed by the Priesthood,” Liahona, June 2011, 39

Blessed by the Priesthood

Virginia Gillis, Massachusetts, USA

I joined the Church as a single mother in 1996, several years after my twin sister, Theresa, joined. When Theresa was baptized, a mutual friend said to me, “Why would she join that church? They make their women stay in the background.”

From association with members of the Church, I knew that my friend’s understanding was inaccurate—the marriages I saw among members of the Church were some of the strongest and most equal I had ever seen. I knew that only men in the Church held the priesthood, but I sensed that they used the priesthood to benefit all.

That truth was reinforced to me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years after my baptism. Upon hearing the news, I received a spiritual prompting that I should seek a priesthood blessing, which I did that evening. In the blessing, I was promised that the cancer would leave my body, that my body would be made whole, and that the Spirit would guide my doctors.

That blessing was the first of many I would receive over the next three years of treatment and surgeries. It gave me faith to know that healing would come physically if it was the Lord’s will or that it would come spiritually—and I would be given strength to deal with my trial.

I experienced the second kind of healing one night following an operation. I remember waking up in extreme pain. Just then this thought entered my mind: “You know that you will get better. You have been promised that your body will be made whole. You know you’re going to get through this.”

On another occasion I woke up in the middle of the night worried about the future. “What is going to happen to me?” I wondered. That panic lasted for a couple of hours, but it was the only time during my three-year battle that I felt such anxiety. The peace from the priesthood blessings I received sustained me and enabled me to get through things I thought I couldn’t endure.

The priesthood continued to strengthen me through a postoperative infection and a serious fever. One night during this time my brother-in-law came to the hospital and gave me a blessing. My temperature had been rising all day, but after the blessing it steadily declined. I was amazed but not surprised.

I saw the promise come to fruition that my doctors would be guided. When I awoke after one of my operations, the surgeon came to see me.

“I was all done,” she explained, “but something told me to go deeper, and I found additional problem areas, which I was able to remove. We’re fortunate to have found them.”

She is not a member of the Church, but the promise of the blessing I had received early on had come to pass. The Spirit had guided her.

I am grateful for the worthy priesthood holders in my ward and family who have reached out to me and used the priesthood to bless my life. I am grateful for their wives who support and sustain them as they honor their priesthood and use it to bless others. Most of all, I am grateful that Heavenly Father has blessed us with His power on earth, a power that blesses all of His children.