Adversity in the World -- Hope in Christ

by RD Clyde

Adversity is the common lot of all mankind, and our individual fulfillment or downfall results from what we do with our adversities. Tragedy is not what happens to us; tragedy is failing to grow from what happens to us. And know, too, that our adversities are not always to be overcome. Sometimes we are asked to do something more difficult -- we are asked to endure them.

In the garden of this earth, the Lord is the gardener. He knows the purpose for which each one of us are here. He tries to shape and guide us through instruction, inspiration and by placing us among good examples. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to temper our souls through the fires of affliction, the hammer of adversity and the cold water of despair because in this way a tool is tempered to be made strong enough for it's intended purpose. We can choose to either bend or be broken. But even if we do break, we need only ask the Lord, "Please try again." That is the lesson of the prodigal son.

Even Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Our Heavenly Father knows what we need to do and He gives us the opportunity to do it. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, understood that principle and taught it to us when He knelt the second time in the garden praying, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink of it, thy will be done." Christ knew that to endure is more than just suffering; more than just taking your lumps. Enduring to the end is moving forward toward that end even as you receive scrapes and bruises. Sometimes, the only way out is through. Courage, brothers and sisters. Courage is knowing what's right and doing it.

If your journey is discouraging because you can't see the end of the road, then just go as far as you can see and then you'll see farther. We well know that Joseph Smith the prophet, was no stranger to despair. Several times in his darkest hours, the Lord spoke to him with words which apply equally well to each of us in our lives. In various places in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord told Joseph Smith,

Many of us have difficulty understanding why such a perfect being as God would be mindful of such an imperfect, disobedient, and unprofitable creature as ourselves. Even the Psalmist once wrote, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." (Psalms 8:3-5) But why? Of what value are we to Him?

Most all of us are familiar with the parable of the merchant seeking goodly pearls (Matt 13:45-46). I'm sure you've heard an interpretation of that parable before, but I'd like you to consider an interpretation you may not have heard. The scripture in Matthew 13, verse 45 states, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls." If we consider that Christ is the merchant man, being the only person who could be "like unto heaven," then that would make us the goodly pearls, since we are that which Christ seeks. "Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." Christ truly did give all that He had; and it was for you, yourself as an individual, separate from everyone and everything around you. Christ knows your name, and even if you were the only creature in all of creation who ever needed redemption from sin, He would still have given all that He had for you.

I once saw a plaque on someone's wall which said, "I asked the Lord how much He loved me. He said, `I love you this much,' as He spread His arms wide and died." One of the saddest mistakes we make in this life is failing to accept the value we have in the Lord's eyes. We let our priorities slip, putting the opinions others have of us above the opinions of God. We fail to believe the words which Christ has said regarding us -- we fail to believe Christ. It is important to remember that the Lord usually doesn't measure success with the same yardstick we do; often He doesn't even measure the same things we think are important. And even if we do achieve what we consider success, it can be just another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be. (Harry Lloyd)

The destinations to which we travel will not always be reached along the paths we would imagine. I'd like to share one last story with you, where:

The good news of the gospel is not that perfect people can be reconciled to God, but that imperfect people can be. You are loved, and nothing is more important than that. Stay close to the Lord and He will guide your path and bring peace to your soul. Our Lord is mindful of us and our wishes. We need to be more mindful of Him. God is above all things, but not beyond their reach. (Pope Gregory I) Nikita Ivanovich Panin once said, "Two men please God - he who serves Him with all his heart because he knows Him; he who seeks Him with all his heart because he knows Him not." You too, can be one of those people.

Last Updated: 16 Sep 96