Life on earth is full of all kinds of challenges. So many things can go wrong. Whether you are dealing with money problems, infertility, stress at work and school, a family member gone astray, drug or alcohol abuse, questioning your testimony, death, or illness (just to name a few), it can feel impossible to understand why.
Adversity is everywhere
In his talk “Trust in the Lord,” Elder Richard G. Scott teaches principles to help Latter-day Saints understand the sources of adversity better.
He says, “It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result.
Elder Scott continues by saying, “No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges.”
The first source of adversity
If adversity is the result of a person’s pride or disobedience, the path to peace and happiness is through repentance and change. Trials like these can be avoided through living righteously.
Elder Scott says that if your suffering is because of transgression, that the “only path to permanent relief from sadness is sincere repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.“
He invites readers to “realize your full dependence upon the Lord and your need to align your life with His teachings. There is really no other way to get lasting healing and peace. Postponing humble repentance will delay or prevent your receiving relief. Admit to yourself your mistakes and seek help now. Your bishop is a friend with keys of authority to help you find peace of mind and contentment. The way will be opened for you to have the strength to repent and be forgiven.“
The second source of adversity
Elder Scott teaches that “the other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come to our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different.”
He goes on to say that “the second type of adversity comes as Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously.”
“When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more.”
“He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.”
Pray to understand God’s plan
Our success in this life and in the eternities relies on how we react to the adversity we face here on earth. When a trial comes, pray to know what Heavenly Father would like you to learn from it.
Missionaries teach this same idea. In the Gospel Principles Manual it gives this helpful advice, “When some people face adversity, they complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, people should consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?”
Alma 7:13 says, “Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.”
It is part of our loving Heavenly Father’s plan for us to face adversity, and because of that, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to take upon himself our transgressions and pains. Because of Him, we can overcome whatever it is we are facing. No matter what type of adversity we are facing, our reaction to it will make the biggest difference.
Related: Overcoming Adversity Isn’t the Point