Pain, suffering, trials, tribulation and afflictions (adversity) are all around us. It is almost impossible to live in this world and not experience adversity. The Apostle Paul declared, “…that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14: 22 in the Bible)
Earth life was designed to be a test for the sons and daughters of God. We are being tested to see if we will develop faith, keep the commandments of God and endure adversity and challenges.
Jeffrey R. Holland speaking to college students said, “You may be asked to face more difficulties in life than you think you can bear and certainly more than you want.” He pointed to some of the heartbreaking hardships endured by Troy and Deedra Russell living in Henderson, Nevada. “This family lost their 9-year-old son to an accident in May 2015. Troy accidently ran over their son with his truck. Late last year (2021), Deedra was hit and severely injured by a drunk driver while heading north on I-15 in southern Utah. She has been in the hospital ever since. Her recovery has included 18 surgeries, with more to come.
One lesson the Russells’ experience teaches us, that the keeping of God’s commandments really is important and revealed do’s and don’ts are for a purpose. When your life seems to be one tear and tragedy and heartache after another, the meaning of which and the answers to which you cannot understand, I ask you to ‘hope for things which are not seen’ but which are true.’ (Hebrews 11: 1 in the Bible & Alma 32: 21 in the Book of Mormon))
We ought to acknowledge, the tears of a Heavenly Father who simply asks us to take care of one another, to be careful rather than reckless with the well-being of our sisters and our brothers. Childlike obedience to His parental calls and divine warnings will spare us and others agony in the end. Thus the cry of His Only Begotten Son: ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ (John 14: 15 in the Bible))
A second lesson is the need to forgive others for the relief and peace it brings us.
The Russells have felt that they should not withhold forgiveness for him who gave offense, part of that motivation, was because Troy has spent these last five years of his life struggling with his role, accidental as it was, in the loss of 9-year-old Austen. Whatever the event, we all thank God for being the Father of forgiveness and for the gifts of mercy and relief He offers us, all of it ultimately coming to us through the majestic Atonement of His Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to join in and participate in that offering.
And a third lesson is, ‘be still and know that I am God.’ (Psalms 46:10 in the Bible)
When you are being hammered on the anvil of adversity, when your soul is being refined with severe lessons that perhaps can be learned no other way, don’t cut and run. Don’t jump ship. Don’t shake your fist at God. Please stay with the only help and strength that can aid you in that painful time. When you stumble in the race of life, don’t crawl away from the very Physician who is unfailingly there to treat your injuries, lift you to your feet and help you finish the course. We don’t know why all of the things that happen to us in life happen, why sometimes we are spared a tragedy and sometimes we are not. But that is where faith must truly mean something, or it is not faith at all. As sure as you live, all of the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel; are waiting for you, short term, long term and forever.”
(Part of the remarks of Jeffrey R. Holland to the Student Body at Brigham Young University, January 18, 2022)
The Why Questions
During adversity in our lives we have to be careful not to dwell on the “Why Questions: Why me, Why now, Why not others, Why does it not end? We do not have the knowledge and especially the eternal perspective to answer these questions. If we dwell too long on the “Why” of the things that happen to us/loved ones and the unfairness of life, we begin to counsel the Lord, get angry and die spiritually. It is part of life’s test to learn to trust, be patient and humble before God.
I have experienced adversity in my life from some of my mistakes and sins, the actions of others, events and circumstances of life over which I had no control. My faith in Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ has sustained me through these challenges and brought me closer to Them. I have felt their love, guidance, forgiveness, and mercy in my hour of need.