Thanks to all who have expressed concern and support the past while. I find that chronic illness brings with it layers of opposition; it can affect one spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially, and, of course, physically. Adding this acute illness has on one level been a blessing (at least I could point to some reason why I was feeling worse!) but also a sort of added level of trial. It's been hard not to want to just say, "Can't I have a BREAK?" :)
But, you know, life isn't all about the stuff of life, about getting things done. It's about facing opposition with grace and faith, about enduring well. That's where I am. That's what I am working on.
I can't imagine facing the trials of life without an understanding of the plan of salvation, of the Atonement.
Trying to comprehend the trials and meaning of this life without understanding Heavenly Father’s marvelously encompassing plan of salvation is like trying to understand a three-act play while seeing only the second act. Fortunately, our knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement helps us to endure our trials and to see purpose in suffering and to trust God for what we cannot comprehend.Revealed truths reassure us that we are enclosed in divine empathy. As Enoch witnessed, we worship a God who wept over needless human misery and wickedness (see Moses 7:28–29, 33, 37). Jesus’ perfect empathy was ensured when, along with His Atonement for our sins, He took upon Himself our sicknesses, sorrows, griefs, and infirmities and came to know these “according to the flesh” (Alma 7:11–12)....
The Apostle Paul spoke from considerable personal experience when observing that “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous” (Heb. 12:11). You and I are not expected to pretend chastening is pleasant, but we are expected to “endure it well” (D&C 121:8). Only afterward is “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” enjoyed by those who “are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). But what demanding calisthenics!
Moroni said that only “after the trial of [our] faith” do we receive certain assurances and blessings (Ether 12:6). Taking Jesus’ yoke upon us really does help us learn of Him as we personally experience His special love for us (see Matt. 11:29). We also come to appreciate more His meekness and lowliness.
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell
In my recent post about "digging deep," I wrote rather vaguely, but these are the types of truths I have been mulling over. As a person who has always tended to thrive on 'getting things done,' for the past several years, I have had to learn more about 'enduring things well.' I know I'm not a special case with this exercise; I believe we all, at some point or another, will have our heart- and soul-stretching trials.
...President John Taylor said he heard the Prophet [Joseph Smith] say, "You have all kinds of trials to pass through, and it is quite as necessary for you to be tried even as Abraham, and other men of God. God will feel after you, he will take hold of you and wrench your very heartstrings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Kingdom of God (Journal of Discourses, 24:197)" (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1963, p.88).Have you felt your heartstrings pulled, stretched, even wrenched? When we feel pushed to the limit, it's an opportunity to deepen the roots of faith, to remember the eternal purposes of God, to remember that if we endure well, eternal blessings can be ours.
...[P]eace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;This is what I am working on -- deepening those roots, trying to endure well what for me is a difficult time.
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8)
(Hehe. That is such an image, and describes how I sometimes want to react to my trials. Apparently, I'm not alone.)
The restored gospel not only teaches us why we must be tested, but it makes clear to us what the test is. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave us an explanation. By revelation, he was able to record words spoken at the Creation of the world. They are about us, those of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father who would come into mortality. Here are the words:
"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
That explanation helps us understand why we face trials in life. They give us the opportunity to prove ourselves faithful to God. So many things beat upon us in a lifetime that simply enduring may seem almost beyond us. That’s what the words in the scripture “Ye must … endure to the end" (2 Ne. 31:20) seemed to mean to me when I first read them. It sounded grim, like sitting still and holding on to the arms of the chair while someone pulled out my tooth.
It can surely seem that way to a family depending on crops when there is no rain. They may wonder, “How long can we hold on?” It can seem that way to a youth faced with resisting the rising flood of filth and temptation. It can seem that way to a young man struggling to get the training he needs for a job to support a wife and family. It can seem that way to a person who can’t find a job or who has lost job after job as businesses close their doors. It can seem that way to a person faced with the erosion of health and physical strength which may come early or late in life for them or for those they love.Then-Elder Eyring reminds us in this talk that we simply can't do it alone. Trials give us the opportunity to turn to God for strength beyond our own (the talk is entitled, "In the Strength of the Lord"). Even as I type, I am reminded of the need to seek His help and strength more, to take times like this as an opportunity to deepen my faith and expand my experience with the power of the Atonement.
But the test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us. We have that clear understanding because the restored gospel makes the plan of happiness so plain.
There. I feel better already.
If you feel like sharing, I'd be interested in hearing what scriptures, quotes, etc. help you hold on and hunker down when life gets hard and your faith is tested.