Maybe you are like me… It seems every time I pray to be strengthened, in any given area of my life, I then receive a test that tries me deeply—specific to whatever I prayed for. Obviously I need to learn that Christ-like qualities are not handouts given to us at no cost, rather they are earned attributes that have to be worked for. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the “Mormon Church” by friends of other faiths) I know and believe the words of one of our Church leaders, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy, who said:
At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. (“More Than Conquerors through Him That Loved Us,” Ensign, May 2011)
In a book titled, Be Not Afraid—Only Believe, written by Ted L. Gibbons, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc., Ted poetically elaborates on how the Lord has the great eternal perspective and gives us those laser guided trials that we need in order to become the men and women that He wants us to be:
The University of Mortality Thinking of the Lord’s timing has caused me to think about the class lists and course outlines for the University of Mortality. All of us are assigned an individualized curriculum, and I am certain that many of the courses are not of our own choosing. Therefore, students engaged in the test of mortality will occasionally cry out, “I didn’t sign up for this subject! Why is this happening to me? I’ve been good!” Abraham, who knew as much as anyone about being tested, wrote these words as he heard them spoken about the spirit children of our Heavenly Father in a pre-mortal council: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25).
But why would the Lord assign the test at all? In addition to elder Holland’s observation that the Lord wants us to be strong and good, one other purpose seems apparent: we need to learn patience. I am pretty sure this is not an elective in the school of mortality, but rather one of those required courses that no one wants to take. Patience is only learned from pain, uncertainty, and irony, not from peace and prosperity. “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.”
We must also submit with patience to the Lord’s timing. The scriptures tell us that Christ “looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made.” He tells us in the same passage that He “knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes” (D&C 38:1, 2). That omniscience, combined with a perfect love, qualifies the Lord to impose His timing on our mortal affairs. Elder Maxwell said, “Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than his. Either way we are questioning the reality of God’s omniscience, as if, as some seem to believe, God were on some sort of postdoctoral fellowship.”
Since the Lord is a master teacher as well as a loving Father, we must allow Him the opportunity to instruct us while He attempts to save us.
We are often frustrated by our inability to understand what the Lord is doing with us. But how could we understand? When in mortality will we ever have the opportunity to gaze “upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven?” (D&C 38:1). The testimony of Doctrine and Covenants 76 is that no one can ever find out the extent of His doings (see verse 2). Without that knowledge, how can we presume to counsel God? Given His infinite perspective, it is not surprising that God’s clock and ours are rarely synchronized. He can see things that are invisible to us. We cannot behold with our “natural eyes” the designs of God nor the events that will follow our tribulation (D&C 58:3), but we can always consider ourselves safe in the hands of a Being of perfect love and unlimited power. (pages 115-117)
Sometimes it is hard to put our trust in God but once we do, I testify, the Lord will protect and direct us (see Proverbs 3:5-6). I invite you to “come unto Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:59) and be perfected in Him. Next time you kneel down in prayer, ask in faith to be strengthened through Christ; and while you are at it, ask our Heavenly Father if these things that you have read are true, and then continue to learn more about the LDS Church.
This article was written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.