Nov 08 2012
In sacrament meeting on Sunday, our newest Primary graduate was asked to stand in front of the congregation and recite one of the Articles of Faith. Sophia chose the last one — the longest one. It is familiar to Christians of all denominations, because it quotes the Apostle Paul:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul — We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
It’s one thing to hope to be able to endure all things, and quite another to hope to endure all things. I’ll take the former, thank you. I want just enough adversity in my life to allow me to appreciate the good things of life and to grow spiritually as I need to grow, but not one iota more adversity than that. Human beings don’t suffer for the fun of it.
Nevertheless, we all have trials. As Job 14:1 reminds us:
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Isn’t that true for all of us!
Last week at the temple, I read a talk that was recently given on the BYU Hawaii campus. The name of the talk was “That’s Life,” and it was given by Elder Christopher J. Lansing.
Elder Lansing quoted the portion of Doctrine and Covenants 121, where God tells Joseph Smith to quit worrying about the problems that Joseph believes are insurmountable. He said:
In verse seven the Lord responds to Joseph’s outpouring by saying, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.” In other words the Lord says to Joseph, in today’s vernacular, “Joseph, Chill. Everything will be ok. I am in charge. This is my work and all is going according to my plan. Relax.” Or in my music of the sixties, the Beatles’ song “Let It Be.”
Section 122 is complementary to the 121st. I call it the “if” section. Fifteen different times the word “if” is used. For instance verse five says the following, “If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or sea.” And this continues fifteen times.
These phrases might not have much meaning, but if we substitute issues which we face in a modern world, perhaps we can learn something; such as if I have a death in my family, or if my girlfriend dumped me, or if I have financial burdens, or if I were smarter. These are “that’s life” examples of what we might encounter. You can customize this by substituting challenges you are having in your life. Fill in the blank. Use the word “if” followed by your own personal challenges.
That really meant something to me. I’ve got a lot of those “if” issues in my life. “If thou art called upon to have a bum heart and bad lungs.” “If thou art unable to do for thyself and are forced to rely on the kindness of others.” “If thou become so ugly that strangers feel compelled to call you names.” “If thou art overcome with so much physical pain that even walking across the room is an agony.” “If thou art surrounded by a nation that call good, evil, and evil, good.” “If thou must endure corruption in government.” I could go on and on.
Then he says,
“IF blank, blank, blank.” From verse seven, “….know thou my son (or daughter), that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). In other words the challenges we have in life are ultimately helpful and even essential, as distasteful as they may be; they are for our own good.
As I write this, on a depressing Wednesday morning, I can’t help but think that as despondent as I may be, God has the Earth firmly in hand. Everything is for my good (and for yours as well). Life will have a happy ending.
Until it does, I might as well stop worrying and go about the daily tasks of life. There is much good in the world. All we have to do is open our eyes, and we’ll see miracles all around us.