You may feel singled out when adversity enters your life. You shake your head and wonder, 'Why me?' But the dial on the wheel of sorrow eventually points to each of us. At one time or another, everyone must experience sorrow. No one is exempt. I love the scriptures because they show examples of great and noble men and women such as Abraham, Sarah, Enoch, Moses, Joseph, Emma, and Brigham. Each of them experienced adversity and sorrow that tried, fortified, and refined their characters.It is important to remember that when the Lord requires us to wander in strange lands, He will deliver us: "The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it" (Acts 13:17). Not only are we blessed after our wanderings, we are blessed throughout them. Like He supported Nephi, the Lord lifts us through our afflictions in the wildernesses of our lives. He preserves us when the great swells of the oceans seem about to overwhelm us and bring us down to the depths of despair (see 2 Ne. 4:20). We may feel, whether we have sinned or not, that we "are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they" (Mormon 5:18). But the Lord will be our Captain if we allow Him to be.
Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others. Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others. Remember the sublime words of the Savior to the Prophet Joseph Smith when he suffered with his companions in the smothering darkness of Liberty Jail: '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).
With that eternal perspective, Joseph took comfort from these words, and so can we. Sometimes the very moments that seem to overcome us with suffering are those that will ultimately suffer us to overcome.
12 November 2008
Strangers in a Strange Land, Part 4
For those feeling lost, who are struggling and sorrowed, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin stated at the October 2008 General Conference: