Monday, February 27, 2012


for strength

The Lord can reassure that He is near and that He will lead us through the darkest days of our lives.
Of the Seventy

Life is not always easy to live, but the opportunity to do so is a blessing beyond comprehension. In the process of living we will face struggles, many of which will cause us to suffer and to experience pain. Many people will suffer in personal struggles, while others will suffer as they watch their loved ones in pain.
To gain strength in our struggles, we must have a positive perspective of the principles in the plan of salvation. We must realize that we have a personal Savior whom we can trust and turn to in our times of need. We must also learn and live the principles that the Lord has given to receive the strength needed during our struggles.

Positive Perspective

In the Grand Council in Heaven, the decision was made to “make an earth whereon these may dwell” (Abr. 3:24). This earth is the place to prove ourselves worthy and to prepare to return to the presence of the Lord. He explained, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
The Lord explained the purpose for which we must be tested during this earthly experience: “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them” (D&C 136:31).
Part of the plan is “that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11). We are given the agency to choose between these opposites in the proving process (see 2 Ne. 2:27D&C 29:35). In our pre-earth life, we understood and sustained the plan of salvation with the principles of opposition and agency. We knew we would have experiences in this life that would cause us to struggle and sometimes to suffer.
Some of our struggles involve making decisions, while others are a result of the decisions we have made. Some of our struggles result from choices others make that affect our lives. We cannot always control everything that happens to us in this life, but we can control how we respond. Many struggles come as problems and pressures that sometimes cause pain. Others come as temptations, trials, and tribulations.
Yet struggles are a part of the sacred sanctification process. There are no soft or slothful ways to become sanctified to the point that we are prepared to live in the presence of the Savior. And there can be blessings in the burdens we bear. As a result of these struggles, our souls are stretched and our spirits are strengthened. Our character becomes more Christlike as we are tried and tested.
Even though these experiences may cause pain, suffering, and sorrow, we have this absolute assurance: “No pain suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effects if it be suffered in resignation and if it be met with patience” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 168).
The Savior gave comfort and counsel to the Prophet Joseph Smith while he was suffering in Liberty Jail, explaining the beneficial effects and blessings that come if we bear our burdens well: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). He continued:
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes” (D&C 121:7–8).
People respond to struggles in different ways. Some feel defeated and beaten down by the burdens they are called to bear. Many begin to blame others for their difficulties and defeats, and they fail to follow the counsel of the Lord. It is a natural tendency to seek the easy road on life’s journey and to become discouraged, filled with doubt, and even depressed when facing life’s struggles.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, then an Assistant to the Twelve, distinguished the difference in responses to difficulties: “The winds of tribulation, which blow out some men’s candles of commitment, only fan the fires of faith of [others]” (“Why Not Now?” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 12).
If we follow the revealed eternal principles, we will gain strength during our struggles and will be blessed as we bear our burdens and deal with difficulties and overcome obstacles in our lives. If we are to gain thestrength that we need, we must come to know the Savior and follow His counsel.

A Personal Savior

The Savior knows each of us in a personal way. He has assured us of His personal acquaintance, His awareness of our needs, and His presence in our times of need. He counseled, “I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me” (D&C 38:7). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “The Savior is in our midst, sometimes personally, frequently through his servants, and always by his Spirit” (The Lord’s Way [1991], 14).
The Savior knows all things past, present, and future. Jacob taught, “For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Ne. 9:20). He knows the things that we stand in need of even before we ask (see 3 Ne. 13:8).
He also knows our thoughts and the intents of our hearts and sees into the innermost parts of our eternal spirits. He taught, “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezek. 11:5). Ammon stated, “He knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Alma 18:32).
He knows the temptations we face. The Savior was tempted beyond any temptation we could ever face. The scriptures say, “He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them” (D&C 20:22). He stands ready to deliver us in our times of temptation. Paul wrote, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [help] them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Peter proclaimed, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Pet. 2:9).
The Savior “knoweth the weakness of man” (D&C 62:1). In spite of our weakness, He loves us in an incomprehensible manner and offers us great hope: “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
In addition to knowing our thoughts and intents, temptations and weaknesses, He knows all that we do in this life. He said, “Behold, mine eyes see and know all their works” (D&C 121:24; see also 2 Ne. 27:27). “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works” (Rev. 2:19).
The Lord stands ready to help us through our struggles. We have His assurance and His promise that He will be there to assist us in the days of our difficulty:
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
“Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you” (D&C 88:63–64).
He stands ready to comfort and counsel us in our season of struggles and suffering. Jacob taught, “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions” (Jacob 3:1).
The Lord gives us a spirit of hope and a feeling of comfort and confidence that we can overcome the obstacles we face. He has shown the way to gain strength during our struggles. With His assistance, we have the ability to succeed. Listen to His words of counsel and comfort: “Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world … ; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost” (D&C 50:41–42).
Again, with a feeling of love, He reassures us that He is near and that He will lead us through the darkest days of our lives. His strength will sustain us during our struggles even when we feel weak: “Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall” (D&C 50:44).
Because of His infinite love for us, He is our advocate with Heavenly Father. He pleads our cause with Him. He pleads to the Father forforgiveness of our sins and gives us this counsel of cheer: “Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 29:5; see also D&C 45:3D&C 62:1D&C 110:4).


Tara Ashley

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