Wednesday, July 2, 2008

God allows the storms, He doesn't cause them!

"We enter mortality not to float with the moving currents of life, but with the power to think, to reason, and to achieve.

"Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him guidance to ensure our safe return. Yes, I speak of prayer. I speak, too, of the whisperings from that still, small voice within each of us; and I do not overlook the holy scriptures, written by mariners who successfully sailed the seas we too much cross" (Ensign, May 1988, p. 55).

I love this quote. I especially love the thought that we're here not just to float along mindlessly nor to be pulled under by the waves and drowned, but we're here to navigate the seas of life and reach our destination wiser and more experienced. We never know how far we are from the shore, but with God at the helm we can be assured that we're heading in the right direction.

I talked with a dear friend on Monday about the trials we're given in our life. She mentioned that someone else had said to her that God tries those He loves (implying that He sends harder trials to those He loves), and her comment was that He loves everyone (and we have to assume He loves equally since that's what the scriptures say) so this statement didn't really ring true to her. I agree with her and I have my own thoughts on this:
Heavenly Father sent us to this earth to be tried in one sense... we had to be given our agency to choose right or wrong, to voluntarily and freely come back to Him or decide to side with Satan. I don't believe He actually sends trials down to us, though. I think that the trials are the natural by-product of life on earth and are also often the adversaries attempts to derail us. Unfortunately, it can often seem that the closer we are trying to get to God the worse the trials become.
This is NOT because Heavenly Father is up there plotting against us and wanting to see just how much we can take! Rather, Satan increases his efforts to undo any good progress we've made as he attempts to keep us from God. Sometimes this is through direct attacks at us, but more often it is through trials we face because of the actions of others. I don't think I've ever heard of or seen a single person's trials that could really be thought of as coming from God. It is all the natural results of living in mortality with the whole of the human family making vastly differing choices.

An interesting example is my calling as RS President. I could reasonably think that this is a trial from God... after all, I'm being asked to do things that go entirely against everything that I'm comfortable with and am required to learn and grow in ways that I didn't really want to (and certainly hadn't asked to!!) BUT- this is merely an opportunity from God, not a trial. Any discomfort, pain or suffering I might experience in this calling is the sum total of perceptions, actions, and choices made by many people in my life, especially myself. If I am uncomfortable talking in front of people it's because I was never taught to get used to it. If I have trouble talking to people or feeling comfortable doing any of my duties, it's because I didn't know the need to or never took the time to learn the skills that would be needed. None of the "trials" I face in this daunting challenge are things sent by God to punish me or to see how much I can handle. He already knows how much I can do with His help. The only thing that God is trying me in is to see whether I will accept the opporunity and turn to Him and trust Him to help me get through it.

This really brings me comfort when I am facing a particularly severe trial because I know that Heavenly Father is up there cheering me on, sending me small blessings and many tender mercies to help me keep going. He's on my side and He's giving me all the help I need to make it through whatever the adversary can send my way. He will never give us more than we can handle with His help. And He's always there at the helm, trying to steer us toward safety and happiness, even as the storms rage all around us.


Mama D said...

I love your commment: "He already knows how much I can do with His help" -- as well as the idea that we aren't here to just float aimlessly or be pulled under the waves, but that we can "navigate the seas of life and reach our destination wiser and more experienced."

Thanks for sharing this perspective. It is something I continually need to be reminded of, especially as I go through what seems to be unending trial after trial.

Papa D said...

I friend of mine said something recently that I just love. He has lost three young daughters, and his summary of faith is:

"All we can hope for is for God to bring us home."

Also, if you want some perspective on trials, check out the September '02 Ensign article - "In a Quiet House". It is the story of my high school choir teacher. Just have a box of Kleenex handy while you read.

ANTSYLLI said...

Your perspective on adversity is excellent! The idea that it is way to guage how much God loves us is definately flawed. Although, because we are all different, the things that challenge us are also different. When I find myself looking at someone else's life and thinking they have it easy, I have to stop and remind myself that everyone has struggles. The truth is, as you say, God loves all of us and will see us through any adversity we may experience whether it is an opportunity from Him for our growth, or from Satan (for our growth) or as a result of someone else's need to grow. He is there to help us always. Thanks for expressing it so beautifully.