The Lord does permit afflictions in our lives for our spiritual growth and good. Whenever we are in the midst of pain and suffering, it is hard to believe that it will benefit us. The key is whether it draws us closer to God or makes us angry with God. Our challenge is to be patient in affliction and trust the Lord. The Apostle Paul said to the Romans, “…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope…” (Romans 5: 3-4 in the Bible)
An ancient prophet also counseled, “…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2: 2 in the Book of Mormon)
Ted Gilbert Tells His Experience with Afflictions and His Relationship with God
“My afflictions started when I was 20 years.. I was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a tough experience,’one that I hope never to revisit. But it is also one for which I am eternally grateful. It changed me into a more compassionate human being. It helped me become even more strongly linked to my parents and siblings. (My brother, who was my bone marrow donor, and I are now identical genetic twins when it comes to our bone marrow and blood!) It deepened my soul and heightened my spiritual senses. But what I really want to tell you about is the experience of my dear friend, my sweetheart, my wife—Elise—and how she and the Lord have taught me how to find peace even in dark places.
About a year after my diagnosis, and when I had just begun feeling a little bit normal again, I stopped by the house of my dear friend, Elise, to wish her a happy birthday. As we talked, the conversation turned to the subject of faith.
Elise mentioned that when she was younger she had wished she could know the future. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just know who we’re going to marry or what our future will look like?’ Then she paused. ‘But the more I think about it, the more grateful I am we all get to walk by faith. For example, tomorrow something bad is going to happen to someone in the world. But because we get to walk by faith, that person can enjoy today! They don’t have to fret or worry about what is going to happen tomorrow.’
The Spirit seemed to radiate from her as she said this. I can still feel her words. They proved prophetic. The next day Elise was in a terrible accident. She suffered traumatic injuries to her back and head. One of my best friends, the girl I had hoped to someday marry, was on the brink of death.
The feelings I felt over the next two weeks as her life hung in the balance cannot be adequately captured in words. However, the words ‘anguish’ and ‘humbled’ and ‘meek’ come the closest.
From my own previous experience battling cancer, I had come to know that God is our Father—a loving, tender Father. I had come to know our Savior— loving and tender.. In the days following Elise’s accident I felt Their love, but I also felt intermittent floods of anguish. ‘What if Elise dies?’
I recall distinct moments that prepared my heart for what was to come. The first was calling up a mutual friend. We cried on the phone together. The second came in the evening as I walked.. pondering what was happening and talking to the Lord in my mind. As I talked to the Lord, I finally felt the power to say (with real intent), ‘Thy will be done.’ I told Him that I was fine if He had to take Elise. I didn’t know what I would do without her, but I told Him I trusted Him and that I loved Him. The wave of love that I felt from Him at that moment was consuming. It was not just a figment of my imagination. It was real. It’s an experience that has been an anchor to my testimony of God’s reality and love.”
“Having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, … having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God” (Nephi 1:1 in the Book of Mormon)
The Lord does not bring afflictions upon us, but He does permit it to happen and will use it to benefit us if we trust in Him. In this life we should exercise our faith by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and submitting ourselves to His will in all things and doing the best we can in keeping His commandments.