These Things Shall Give Thee Experience
Have you ever heard the common expression that life is not fair? And have you ever had a day where you felt you could be the spokesperson for such a phrase? I’ve had lots of those days. Fortunately, when these days come, it gives me the chance to think about my relationship with God. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as the Mormon Church), one of the tenets of my faith is the belief that these types of days have the ability to bring you closer to Jesus Christ.
In a book titled, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, written by Randall J. Brown, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc., Brown discusses how these types of experiences enable us to draw closer to the Savior:
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not simply a straight-line path to perfection. We all stumble frequently along the way and experience hardships and painful wounds. Spiritual growth is an ebb and flow process and we experience numerous peaks and valleys along the journey. If we compare our spiritual journey to climbing a mountain, there will be times when our path may descend temporarily until the layout of the mountain makes it possible to once again ascend to higher plateaus (2-3).
We are all appointed monumental trials that define the purposes of our lives. These experiences give us the opportunity to either turn to the world for escape or to turn to Christ that He might mold us for divine nature. The Lord, with his infinite power, could have kept Daniel out of the lion’s den and Joseph out of prison, and He could have spared Abinadi [a Book of Mormon prophet who was burned to death for calling the people to repentance] from the flames that took his life. But He did not (5).
Those who are highly favored of the Lord seem to all experience a similar path that lies through the “wilderness school of afflictions.” In this wilderness school, we learn by our own experience that if we place our trust in the Lord, our afflictions will become our greatest stepping stones. We come to know that the Lord, in His time frame, will deliver us from all afflictions (6).
I find it fascinating how Brown notes the ‘highly’ favored of the Lord Jesus Christ are the ones who are blessed with afflictions, because it often seems that it should be just the opposite. If you are actively striving to obey God and live a worthy life, then it logically follows that trials should diminish, not increase. And it is absolutely true that following the gospel of Jesus Christ does help us avoid many hardships that would occur had we been disobedient. But there is never guaranteed immunity. Instead, Latter-day Saint faith believes Christ’s teachings that followers will be lifted up and comforted in their trials, made better because of them. In the end, it is more worthwhile to have the peaceful, calming influence of the Holy Ghost during trials than to go through them alone.
Of course, sometimes a bad day or times of unsettledness can last more than a day, sometimes years. My husband and I struggled through the heartache of infertility. I remember thinking the Lord had forgotten me. And for a time, I became very bitter towards God and mothers in general. Sometimes the waiting was just agony, and that all of my obedience and good choices had been for nothing. It was a selfish time in my life. And it was a time where a lot of my incorrect assumptions of the gospel of Jesus Christ came to the forefront and were one-by-one corrected.
Eventually, after many years of failure, I came to a much-needed, peaceful reconciliation with God. It became completely inconsequential whether or not I would have children. I concluded that if God did not want me to be a mother, then there was something else He wanted me to do. I was still a faithful, good person and I would press forward to be what He needed most. Life was not over because my initial plans were not God’s plan for me. Brown notes:
When we question the Lord’s timing, it is usually because we think events occur too early or too late. Elder Neal A. Maxwell [late Mormon apostle] warned, “When we are unduly impatient with an omniscient God’s timing, we really are suggesting that we know what is best… we who wear wristwatches seek to counsel Him who oversees cosmic clocks and calendars.” Elder Maxwell also said, “We are suggesting that we like our timetable better than God’s (9).
Looking back, I know God could have blessed us with a baby the moment we started praying. He could have fixed every single health problem in my body. He also could have answered all my late night questions of unfairness and imbalance in the world when it came to families with babies. But He didn’t. The hardship and inconvenience occurred so I could become the person He wanted me to be, the one who relied more heavily upon His will.
If you are struggling through hard, unfair days, I hope that you will turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and find patience and strength. In The Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma told his son, “I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and in their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3). I hope that your experiences will also lead you to this hopeful end.
*This article was adapted from Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, by Randall J. Brown, 2009, Horizon Books.
Article was written by Rachael McKinnon
Rachael Carver McKinnon holds a BA in Humanities and an MBA from Brigham Young University. She currently lives in Draper, Utah with her husband, Greg. When she isn’t keeping up with one of her four children, she loves road biking and lap swimming.
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Tags: Christ, Endurance, Endure to the End, Faith, Jesus Christ, lds church, Lord Jesus Christ, morman beliefs, Morman Church, Morman Doctrine, Mormans, mormon beliefs, mormon church, mormon doctrine, Mormonism, Mormons, Patience, Trials
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