Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lifting Dark Clouds by Bonnie

We have all felt the dark clouds of trials, it is how we are tested. "The Lord makes no secret that He will test our faith and our obedience. ‘We will prove them herewith . . . to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” Elder Adhemar Damiani Our loving Father has reassured us that His ‘great plan of happiness’ was founded on faith, not on fear of failure. . . . The central figure in this plan, the true Deliverer, is the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .[W]e cannot now recall what we learned in those glorious courts on high. Instead of simply remembering, we are required to learn of and develop faith in God’s promised deliverance.Elder Lowell M. Snow, Ensign, Dec 2007. The atonement is not just for sin but to heal our “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,” it is for the relief of "the sickness of the Lord's people" and their infirmities. Alma 7:11-12.

The story of Job in the Bible tells us that Job was a just and perfect man who was greatly blessed. The Lord allowed Job to be tried. Job lost everything and suffered physically. When he despaired he was told, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." Job 5:17. Job testified "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in the Lord....He also shall be my salvation." Job 13:15-16.

What about Nephi. He “was constantly faced with privations and difficulties. Nevertheless he said that they ‘lived after the manner of happiness’ (2 Nephi 5:27). Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., Ensign, Apri 2009. Nephi turned to the Lord in times of trial and his brothers murmured and complained. What made Nephi different? Nephi recognized that he “was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do.” (1 Nephi 4:6) He had faith in the Lord’s deliverance “I will go and do the thing that the Lord commands” because I know that He will provide a way to accomplish it.(1Nephi 3:7) The difference is that Nephi knew “that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will,” for his children if they exercise faith in him.(1Nephi 7:12) "Nephi understood that there is a pattern for living that results in happiness, independent of the difficulties, challenges, and disappointments that come into all of our lives. He was able to focus on the big picture of God’s plan for him and his people and was thus able to avoid being brought down by [the fact] that life is not fair. It isn’t fair, but [Nephi] and his people were happy nevertheless.” [Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., Ensign, April 2009]

Trials, afflictions, and suffering are like dark clouds that rain down on the good as well as the wicked. “Suffering is universal; how we react to suffering is individual. Suffering . . . can be a strengthening and purifying experience combined with faith, or it can be a destructive force in our lives if we do not have the faith in the Lord’s atoning sacrifice.”[Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, Nov. 1983 ] “The reason for some of these trials cannot be readily understood except on the basis of faith and hope because there is often a larger purpose which we do not always understand.” [President James E. Faust, Ensign, Nov. 1999]

If we will have faith and hope, we will have peace. “Faith and hope are constantly interactive, and may not always be precisely distinguished or sequenced. . . . Just as doubt, [and] despair . . . go together, so do faith, hope and charity. . . . those who look forward to a next and better world are usually ‘anxiously engaged’ in improving this one, for they ‘always abound in good works.’ . . . While weak hope leaves us at the mercy of our moods and events, ‘brightness of hope’ produces illuminated individuals. . . . Such hope permits us to ‘press forward’ even when dark clouds oppress.” [ 2 Nep. 31:16, 20] [Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov 1994] “Hope, charity, and faith. . . . become stronger because of their association with each other. . . . When a woman loses hope, she will also lose faith and charity. . . . When hope leaves us, despair ensues. . . . Hope is a steadying influence [that keeps] us from drifting aimlessly. . . . Truly, the Lord Jesus Christ is our hope.” [Elaine L. Jack, Ensign, March 1992]


You know, life is a lot like cookie dough. Though any ingredient alone may not taste that great, each is essential to the recipe to make scrumptious cookies. It only works when the ingredients are combined according to the correct recipe or plan. And you can’t leave anything out, not even a pinch of salt. Think of salt as the bitter experiences, or adversity and affliction in life. Without the salt there isn’t anything to balance the sweet parts of life. We need both for our growth.

This is how the Lord works. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through adversity and hardships. But He knows that when we put these things in His order, they always work for our good. We just have to trust Him and eventually, these experiences will combine to make something phenomenal. Remember, my dear daughter, your Heavenly Father is crazy about you. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. He even inspired someone to make cookies! Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He knows you better than anyone. He knows what experiences you need in order to stretch and reach your full potential. I know that these experiences seem hard when we are going through them, but if we will allow ourselves to be molded and fashioned by the Lord’s loving hands, he can create something marvelous of us.

“You may feel singled out when adversity enters your life. You . . . wonder, ‘Why me?’ . . . No one is exempt. . . . 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. . . . Those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times. . . . The Lord in His wisdom does not shield anyone from grief or sadness. . . . I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.”[Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, Nov. 2008]

If we viewed trials differently, with an eternal perspective, perhaps as a chance for growth, the focus of our prayers would change. Instead of asking that the trial be lifted maybe we would ask for help to endure it, or how to learn and grow from it. When we focus only on the dark clouds we don’t recognize that the Lord is with us during these tests—always! We would not see His angels who are there to bear us up. If we focus only on the dark clouds we won’t be able to see beyond the trial. We won’t recognize what those dark clouds or adversity have taught us. We won’t appreciate the growth we have experienced because of these hard times. Would we learn to rely on the Lord if life was always sunny and our path was always smooth—would we learn to rely on faith and have hope in our Savior?

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