I was thinking today that I hope I get an opportunity to be a teacher at church again. I’ve been learning so much over this last year and having so many moments of inspiration. This week I saw something in a new way that I knew before but sort of in a cloudy way. Have you ever had those moments where God sort of clears away the fog and something becomes clear? Something you sort of knew becomes something you surely know.
In Doctrine and Covenants Section 90 there is this verse:
24 Search adiligently, bpray always, and be believing, and call things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the dcovenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.
2 Nephi 2 says
2 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine aafflictions for thy gain.
27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.
Over and over I have read verses like these and sort of knew what they meant. I think the message is clear that all hardships, struggles, disappointments and pain will in the end be good for us in some way. Maybe they will teach us something, make us more empathetic toward others, help us to be kinder and better ministers and make us more holy and more like Jeus Christ. The part that has been clarified for me this week is that these hardships etc are not given to us by God. They are part of our mortal life. Sometimes brought on by the weekness of our bodies or our inability to be perfect. We are affected by the choices and free will of others. We are also affected by the choices and free will of ourselves.
We are here on earth to be tried and tested to see if through all of these things we will choose to follow God. Will we continue to be obedient to His commandments and live according to the covenants we have made even through terrible hardships and suffering? Will we follow Him even as we don’t have full understanding of everything? Will we continue to serve our brothers and sisters here on earth even when we wonder if God has forgotten us? (He hasn’t, it just feel like that sometimes.)
Consecrated for Your Gain
This week I have been studying a talk by Elder Dale G Renlund and one part stood out to me over all the rest. It’s the very last paragraph:
I testify that the Savior lives. He understands unfairness. The marks in the palms of His hands continually remind Him of you and your circumstances. He ministers to you in all your distress. For those who come unto Him, a crown of beauty will replace the ashes of mourning; joy and gladness will replace grief and sorrow; appreciation and celebration will replace discouragement and despair.30 Your faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be rewarded more than you can imagine. All unfairness—especially infuriating unfairness—will be consecrated for your gain. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.Italics added by me.
And that one little sentence sent me on a path which resulted in this new clarity. I would encourage you to click on the link and read the full text of the talk even if you have read it before. There is so much good stuff in there.
Anyway, Elder Renlund is very clear in this talk that the unfair and painful things in this life are not given to us by God but we are allowed to experience them for lots of good reasons – some of which we will not know until we meet Jesus.
Which brings me to a final thought that is from a talk that Henry B Eyring gave in 2004:
When I was a young man, I served as counselor to a wise district president in the Church. He tried to teach me. One of the things I remember wondering about was this advice he gave: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”
I thought then that he was pessimistic. Now, more than 40 years later, I can see how well he understood the world and life. As time passes, the world grows more challenging, and our physical capacities slowly diminish with age. It is clear that we will need more than human strength. The Psalmist was right: “But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.”1
I remember that talk in Conference all those years ago and I go back to that quote often. Keeping those words in mind about treating people I meet as if they are in serious trouble has served me well many times. Sometimes I forget it and wish that people would just be better but then I go back to that quote and remind myself that, so many times, people are just doing the best that they can at the time. This quote has helped me to become more empathetic and also better at having a desire to serve others even when I disagree with their choices.
I hope that you might take that little line to heart and even if it just helps you to be a bit more patient with others on the road or in a line at the grocery store every little bit of kindness can help the world to be a little better. And in a world that is suffering so much right now we can use all the extra little kindnesses we can get.