Pain, suffering, trials, tribulation and afflictions are all around us. It is almost impossible to live in this world and not experience many challenges, but at the same time we can also experience much goodness from our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33 in the Bible). What does it mean to be of “good cheer, I have overcome the world? Because of the Savior’s successful mission of living a perfect life, suffering for our sins and overcoming death through His resurrection from the dead, His great plan of salvation is operative for all of us and His goodness is available both in this life and life after death.
Example of the Goodness of God
Dale G. Renlund (a heart surgeon) spoke concerning the goodness of God. “Our Heavenly Father wants us to recall His and His Beloved Son’s goodness, not for Their own gratification but for the influence such remembrance has on us. By considering Their kindness, our perspective and understanding are enlarged. By reflecting on Their compassion, we become more humble, prayerful, and steadfast. A poignant experience with a former patient shows how gratitude for generosity and compassion can transform us. In 1987, I became acquainted with Thomas Nielson, a remarkable man who needed a heart transplant. He was 63 years old and lived in Logan, Utah, in the United States. Following military service during World War II, he married Donna Wilkes. He became an energetic and successful brick mason. In later years he especially enjoyed working with his oldest grandchild, Jonathan, during school vacations. The two developed a special bond, in part because Tom saw much of himself in Jonathan. Tom found waiting for a donor heart frustrating. He was not a particularly patient man.
One joyous yet dreadful day, an ideal donor heart became available for Tom. The size and blood type were a match, and the donor was young, just 16 years old. The donor heart belonged to Jonathan, Tom’s beloved grandson. Earlier that day, Jonathan had been fatally injured when the car in which he was riding was struck by a passing train. When I visited Tom and Donna in the hospital, they were distraught. It is hard to imagine what they were going through, knowing that Tom’s life could be extended by using their grandson’s heart. At first, they refused to consider the proffered heart from Jonathan’s grieving parents, their daughter and son-in-law. Tom and Donna knew, though, that Jonathan was brain dead, and came to understand that their prayers for a donor heart for Tom had not caused Jonathan’s accident. No, Jonathan’s heart was a gift that could bless Tom in his time of need. They recognized that something good might come out of this tragedy and decided to proceed. The transplant procedures went well. Afterward, Tom was a different man. The change went beyond improved health or even gratitude. He told me that he reflected every morning on Jonathan, on his daughter and son-in-law, on the gift he had received, and on what that gift had entailed. Tom was more solemn, thoughtful, and kindhearted and lived an additional 13 years after the transplant, years he otherwise would not have had.”
Goodness of God to Each of Us
“Much like Tom, each of us has received gifts that we could not provide for ourselves, gifts from our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, including redemption through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have received life in this world; we will receive physical life in the hereafter, and eternal salvation and exaltation—if we choose it—all because of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Every time we use, benefit from, or even think of these gifts, we ought to consider the sacrifice, generosity, and compassion of the givers. Reverence for the givers does more than just make us grateful. Reflecting on Their gifts can and should transform us. ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart … , and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you… And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.’ (Ezekiel 36: 26-28 in the Bible)
The Savior’s Warning to Us
“In contrast, the Savior warned, ‘In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 59: 21) I do not think that God is insulted when we forget Him. Rather, I think He is deeply disappointed. He knows that we have deprived ourselves of the opportunity to draw closer to Him by remembering Him and His goodness. We then miss out on Him drawing nearer to us and the specific blessings He has promised.”
I quoted part of a talk by Dale G. Renlund recorded in the May 2020 Liahona Magazine