Turning ‘whys’ into ‘hows’

During adversity in our lives we have to be careful not to dwell on the “Why Questions: why me, why now, why to my loved ones, 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. Adversity helps us do this. The Apostle Paul declared, “…that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14: 22 in the Bible)

Real Life Experience

I recently read an article written by a young adult while serving a mission in Australia for her church. While there she learned that her younger brother had cancer. “Tears flooded my eyes before she (her mom) could even tell me that my little brother, Elliot, had been diagnosed with cancer. My heart instantly broke, and in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be with my family. But as my mom comforted me, she told me that my faith and my prayers would do more good in Australia than back home. I was able to call Elliot and tell him how much I loved him. Elliot had been there for me so much throughout my life, and I wished so badly that I could be there by his side.

Later that night as I was praying, I cried to Heavenly Father. I asked one question: “Why?” “Why Elliot?” “Why our family–again?” We had already seen and felt the pain of cancer and the awful effects of chemotherapy, and my mind was filled with flashbacks of my dad’s long battle with cancer and the pain he went through. “Why is this happening again?” I wanted to know. As I knelt in prayer with pain and confusion in my heart, I felt a peaceful feeling come over me. I decided to pray again. This time I asked Heavenly Father, “How?” instead of “Why?’ How can I let this trial strengthen me and my faith? How is this trial going to affect Elliot and the rest of my family? How can this challenge help me become a better and more effective missionary? How can I use this difficult time to help bring peace to those who don’t know about the gospel or the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Focusing on How

“Focusing on “How?” instead of “Why?” helped me to see things through a lens of faith. This change in focus also renewed my appreciation for the basic answers of the gospel, which really are eternal truths. Heavenly Father does love us. Trials, pain, and cancer are not a punishment. Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “Cherish your spiritual [and physical] burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do His work if you will carry them well” (“The Inconvenient Messiah,” Ensign, Feb. 1984, 70).

I felt so much peace and comfort in Jesus Christ during this difficult time. I knew that He had already felt the despair I was feeling, along with everything that Elliot was going to be feeling and suffering in the months to come. I also found great comfort from the scriptures… I’m not sure how I would have taken that news without knowing the bigger picture and Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for our family.

Sometimes it may seem easier to ask, “why?” and blame Heavenly Father for the trials that come our way. But through this experience and others that have followed, I know that we will always be blessed and supported in our trials if we trust in His unwavering love and infinite wisdom”

A prophet has said “And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Alma 36: 3 in the Book of Mormon)

“After months of chemotherapy for Elliot and long after returning home from my mission, I still reflect on this experience whenever trials come my way. I probably won’t ever know why my brother had to endure that trial, but I do know that one day we will have the answers to all of our questions. I know that in that moment when I changed my question to Heavenly Father from “why?” to “how?” I was able to lean on Jesus Christ and allow this trial to help me become more like Him.”

Trust in the Lord

The Lord’s counsel in Proverbs should be helpful to us when we face the challenges of live. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all the ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 in the Bible)

Dallas Jones is the local leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The quoted article came from Lydia Pickard printed in the Liahona, February 2020. For further discussion call (231) 383-8359 or send an email to [email protected].