Sunday, June 12, 2011

laser guided

as is often the case, there was one particular in the april general conference that seemed uncannily given just for me.
this time, it was "more than conquerors through Him that loved us" by elder paul v. johnson.  and to make sure i really got the message, a friend texted me during the talk , "this talk is just for us!"
it most certainly was.

elder johnson talked about trials, of the challenges we face, and of having the strength to endure them, seeing past them to the brighter and more glorious end.  except that he says it far better than i can summarize.  check it out some of these highlights:

but these trials are not just to test us. they are vitally important to the process of putting on the divine nature.  if we handle these afflictions properly, they will be consecrated for our gain.

no pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. … all that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable. … it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.

at times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses.

and no one is exempt, especially not saints striving to do what’s right. some obedient saints may ask, “why me? i’m trying to be good! why is the Lord allowing this to happen?”

a pattern in the scriptures and in life shows that many times the darkest, most dangerous tests immediately precede remarkable events and tremendous growth. “after much tribulation come the blessings.”

in the midst of problems, it is nearly impossible to see that the coming blessings far outweigh the pain, humiliation, or heartbreak we may be experiencing at the time. “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. but growth cannot come by taking the easy way. we clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete. we must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.

as i sat in the back of the chapel, soaking up all of this, there was one term that rang so true that i knew this talk was from God: laser guided.

often, we talk about trials in a rather general sense: yes, life is difficult at times and we get tired and busy.  the weight of homework, job responsibilities, financial needs, a myriad of demands and complications surrounding family life, and whatever else builds up and we're dang tired under it all.  yes, trials.

but there have been times where the challenges i've been given have been such that only someone who knew my innermost soul would know about.  the interesting aspect of such difficulties is that only God could know this about me, only God could know these weaknesses, these tender spots that have just been struck.  not even the randomness of nature could be that precise in its targeting.  these trials must be from God and, therefore, He must know i can handle them and He is supporting me in them.

it's common to look at others and think that their problems aren't so bad, or wonder why they don't seem to have the same struggles we do.  and sometimes it's a matter of the grass seeming greener, but maybe it's because their trials wouldn't be that hard for us.  and, likewise, maybe those around us also have the same struggles we do, but they deal with them more easily yet fight tougher battles with challenges we defeat so easily we hardly give them a second thought.

whatever the case, we have our soft spots, our vulnerabilities and our hidden weaknesses and God gives us trials custom made to the most difficult situations we could face at times.  but He isn't a speculating scientist, experimenting to see what will happen when His test rat is subjected to pain.  He's guiding us to a beautiful mountain top, to grand vistas, and to seriously dang awesome happiness.

for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
habakkuk 2:3.


Hannah and Chris said...

Thanks for this post! Definitely gave me a much needed spiritual boost this morning!

kwistin said...

i think i've read that talk three times in the last two weeks.

i've also pondered the idea of custom-trials being as present as custom-blessings.

but your added commentary, especially "but there have been times where the challenges i've been given have been such that only someone who knew my innermost soul would know about" --that really hit me this time.

it is...comforting. and for once, i'mma try to let my soul be comforted while i wrap my mind around that.

again, thank you.