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President Steve Woodby' Speech - 2nd Counselor of the First Presidency of the Church of Christ

Trusting the Lord in Adversity

 

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 with a “no” to something we think is worthy and will bring us great joy and happiness. Whether it is overcoming illnesses and loneliness, the recovery of a wayward child, dealing with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a loved one who is slipping away. It seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have what we think is a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of a deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired results. No one wants adversity.


Trials, disappointment, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. One: those who transgress the laws of God will always have these challenges. Two: the other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our lives, that we may be separated from the precepts of men that we may receive the polish that comes from testing. It is critically important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, because the corrective action is very different.


If you are suffering the disheartening effects of transgression, please understand that the only path to permanent relief from this sadness is sincere repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We are mortal, and we make mistakes, but don't let pride rob you of joy. Realize your complete dependence upon the Lord and your need to return to the path of His teachings. There is really no other way to get lasting healing and peace. Postponing repentance will just delay or prevent your receiving relief. Admit to yourself your mistakes and seek help immediately. Our bishop is a friend with the keys of authority to help you. The way will be open for you to have strength to repent and be forgiven and find peace and comfort.


If I may, allow me to share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity: the testing that a wise heavenly Father determines is needed even when we are living a worthy, righteous life and we are obedient to His commandments. A lot like Alma and his people when they were allowed to be enslaved by the Lamanites. Just when it all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses (and sometimes all at once). When these trials are not consequences of our disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels we are prepared to grow more

“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.“ (Proverbs 3:11-12).

He therefore gives us experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish us for our benefit. To get us from where we are to where He wants us to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally involves discomfort and pain. When we face adversity, we can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. If we ask, “Why does this happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What did I do to cause this?” We will lead down blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect disagreement with the will of God. Rather, ask “What can I do? What can I learn from this experience? What can I change? Who can I help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?”


What can we learn from the adversity of God’s previously chosen people? Let us glance back and briefly recall the trials and adversity of God’s prophets and faithful saints and compare them to our present times. Let’s consider Lehi’s calling to leave Jerusalem upon God’s instruction, and the adversity caused by his sons Layman and Lemuel because of their lack of faith. For years they caused problems in the wilderness and on the sea, continuing even in the Promised Land. Lehi and Nephi succeeded with God’s help; they trusted completely.


On a similar note, recall with me the early years of the First Invitation - the trials and adversity of the faithful from around the world as they felt the call of the spirit and the promise of God through his chosen Seer, Joseph Smith Jr., to come to the Promised Land and to the building of Zion in America. We can get a clear understanding of their obstacles, trials, and challenges from their daily journals and church historical records - stories of leaving things behind, selling farms and houses, conditions at sea, perils of their travel through the wilderness of North America, plagues, and on and on. But let us also take note of the record of great heavenly blessings, miracles, and angels singing that took place at the dedication of the Temple, to name a few. These were some of our ancestors, and if they would speak to us from their heavenly domain today, what would they say? I would suggest it may be something like this: fear not, want not, it is for a short time, trust in the Lord for He has the words to eternal life.


And now, we too have been called of God in this Second Invitation and last dispensation.

"And it came to pass after some time that Alma and his people were driven into the wilderness, as my people in the fulness of times shall also be driven into the wilderness - where God the Father shall prove the quality of their faith in these words, for the purpose of transforming, purifying, and preparing them for the attainment of their inheritance with Me, Jesus Christ.”. (The Sealed Book, Acts of the Three Nephites 13:4)

We are being taught through revelation by His prophet and Seer, Brother Mauricio Berger. And We have been given previously sealed secrets to aid us in our success where we will be called to flee into the wilderness as well, and as the Lord fulfills the curse upon that land.


But here is the question: How do we prepare our hearts of faith with the highest feelings?


First, a willing sacrifice of our deeply held mortal desires in favor of the will of God. It can be very hard to do, yet when we pray with real conviction, “please let me know thy will” and “may thy will be done,” we are in the best position to receive the most help from our loving father. This life is an experience in profound trust - trust in Jesus Christ, in His teachings, and in our capacity to be led by the Holy Spirit, and to obey those teachings for happiness now and a joyful eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.(Proverbs 3:5-7).

To produce fruit, our trust in the Lord must be more powerful and durable than our confidence in our own personal feelings and experience. To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with us and that he can accomplish it for our eternal good, even though we cannot understand how He could possibly do it.


We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in this mortal state. Yet, at times, we act as if we know it all. When we pass through trials for His purposes, and we trust in Him, and exercise faith in Him, he will help us. That support will usually come step by step, little by little, one portion at a time and while we are passing through a phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from growing in faith will continue. If everything was immediately resolved on our first petition, WE WOULDNT GROW. Our Father in heaven and His beloved Son love us perfectly; they would not require us to suffer a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely necessary for our personal benefit or for that of those we love. And, as in all things, Christ is our perfect example. Who could have asked with more perfect faith, greater obedience, or more complete understanding, than did Christ when he asked his Father in Gethsemane?

"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39).

Later, he pleaded twice again:

"O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done" (Matthew 26:42,44).

Christ taught that we should conclude our most urgent, deeply felt prayers with “thy will be done.” Our willingness to accept the will of the Father will not change, what in his wisdom, he has chosen to do. However, it will certainly change the effect of those decisions on us. This evidence of our selfless use of agency allows His decisions to produce far greater blessings in our lives and, because of our Father’s desire for us to grow, He may give us gentle almost unnoticeable promptings that (if we are willing to accept without complaint) He will magnify to become a very clear indication of His will.


This enlightenment comes because of our faith and willingness to do what He asks, even though we would desire something else. Our Father in heaven has invited us to express our needs, hopes, and desires of Him. That should not be done in a spirit of bargaining, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction it takes us in. His invitation, “ask, and you shall receive” (3 Nephi 27:29) does not assure you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, we will get what we need as judged by a Father that loves us perfectly and wants our eternal happiness even more than we do. When the Lord closes one door in our lives, he shows his continuing love and compassion by opening other compensating doors through our exercise of faith. He will place in our path glimpses of spiritual sunlight to brighten our way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest,. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and they reinforce our determination to accept and be obedient to His will.


It is a beautiful blessing to have faith in the savior and a testimony of His teachings. So few in the world have that divine light to guide them. The restored gospel gives us perspective, purpose, and understanding. It allows us to face what otherwise appears to be unjust, unfair, or unreasonable challenges in life. Let us learn these helpful truths by pondering these scriptures, and let us try to understand those teachings not only in our minds, but in our hearts as well. True, enduring happiness comes with its companions of strength, courage, and the capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties as we learn to filter adversity through higher gifts in our hearts that emanate from the face of our God. Obedience to His teaching provides a sure foundation upon which we can build. It takes effort!


There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is an absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.. It is wise to open the windows of gratitude and allow happiness to flow in. Let us recognize and take inventory of our abundant blessings. Don’t let the stumbling blocks of adversity consume your life. Let us Try to understand what we can. Act where we are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord for a time while we serve others and before we resume our concern.


Please learn that, as we wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, we can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing. Yes; pain, disappointment, frustration, and anguish can be temporary conditions that play out during such times but, behind them, there can be a background of peace. With that peace comes the positive assurance that the Father will keep his promises. We can qualify for the promises by a determination to accept his will and by understanding the great plan of happiness and living righteously.


The Lord’s plan is to exalt us to live with Him and be greatly blessed. The rate at which we qualify is generally set by our capacity to grow, to mature, to love, and to give of ourselves. He is preparing us to be with Him in heaven. Although we cannot fully understand what that means yet, He knows. As we trust Him and seek Him to follow His will, we will receive blessings that our mortal minds cannot understand here on Earth. I can bear whitness and testify of this truth. Our Father in Heaven and His holy Son know better than we do what brings happiness. As we willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and commandments, we can have the blessing of great satisfaction in this life, and even times of overflowing joy.


I know these principles are true. They have been tested in the crucible of personal experience. To accept the hand of the Lord in our life and accept His will without complaint is the begining not only of the resolve to the rising above adversity, but to the path of incredible joy. It will free us from the dead ends of our own logic and reasoning. It will allow our lives to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise we may not know how to go on.

“Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.” (DNC 24:8).

I testify that our heavenly Father loves us, and understand our every needs, as we accept His will for us without complaint, He will bless and sustain us in His great plan of victory. In closing I offer my testimony that The Sealed Book is true, Maurício Artur Berger is the true Prophet, Seer, and Revelator called by God in this dispensation, let us support and strengthen him. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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