We can bring the greatest of all liberties into our individual lives by living true and correct principles. This liberty comes to us as we learn to live as though Jesus Christ were walking beside us. We gain this freedom as we invite the Holy Ghost into our lives.
The liberty principle for today is the eleventh in a series of true principles suggested by Elder Richard G. Scott in his book
21 Principles – Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit. I will merely introduce the principle and suggest that you obtain Elder Scott’s book in order to truly understand this principle. Elder Scott explained that principles “are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances.” You can see principle #1 “True Principles of Freedom” here, principle #2 “Trust the Holy Ghost” here, principle #3 “Try New Things” here, principle #4 “Accept Promptings” here, principle #5 “Decisions Determine Destiny” here, principle #6 “Accept God’s Will” here, principle #7 “Power Limited” here, principle #8 “Discerning Answers” here, principle #9 “Mentors Help” here, and Principle #10 “Internalize Principles” here.
Principle #11 is the simple fact that adversity is a necessary part of life in order for us to grow and develop properly. Elder Scott taught, “Although it may not be a welcome insight, the truth is that you will grow more rapidly through challenge and trial than from a life of ease and serenity with no disturbing elements. The intent of your Father in Heaven is to lift you from where you are to where He knows you will have eternal purpose and unspeakable happiness. By using the talents, abilities, and latent capacities you developed in the premortal existence, He will lead you through growth experiences here on earth. When faced squarely and lived fully without complaint, they will raise you to glorious heights of accomplishment and service. To do all of that during the brief period you are on earth is a tremendous challenge. To accelerate your growth and attainment in his plan for you, sometimes He employs a pattern described on the label of some medicines: `Shake well before using.’
“Such shaking comes through stirring challenges and stretching tests. You likely have encountered some already. You undoubtedly will encounter others. They may come in the form of an accident, the conferral of a great responsibility, or a move that dramatically changes your surroundings and circle of trusted friends. You may begin educational or professional pursuits that prove far more demanding than anticipated. Perhaps personal illness, handicaps, or the death of a loved one puts seeming barriers in your path. In truth they are more likely giant steps intended to lift you to higher levels of understanding and accomplishment. How these challenges are confronted is critically important to your happiness and personal growth now and forever” (pp. 53-54).
When faced with adversity we should search our lives to discover if our own behavior is the source of the adversity. If we are causing our own problems, we need merely change our behavior. If the adversity is not a result of our behavior, we can assume that we are being tested.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency counseled, “With all the differences in our lives, we have at least one challenge in common. We all must deal with adversity. There may be periods, sometimes long ones, when our lives seem to flow with little difficulty. But it is in the nature of our being human that comfort gives way to distress, periods of good health come to an end, and misfortunes arrive….
“My purpose today is to assure you that our Heavenly Father and the Savior live and that They love all humanity. The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of Their infinite love. God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. Then our spirits will be changed. We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks, and thus be prepared for the trust of an endless posterity to teach and to lead through tests to be raised up to qualify to live forever in eternal life” (“Adversity,” Liahona, May 2009).
Adversity is actually a blessing that is not recognized until it is conquered. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He allows us to be tested and strengthened. President James E. Faust, then second counselor in the First Presidency, shared his feelings about adversity. “Many in today’s generation have not fully known nor appreciated the refining blessings of adversity. Many have never been hungry because of want. Yet I am persuaded that there can be a necessary refining process in adversity that increases our understanding, enhances our sensitivity, makes us more Christlike….
“In life we all have our times of testing and growth. These trials are necessary. They are growth experiences. Though they are times of deep anguish and suffering, they are also times to draw near to God. The suffering of the Savior in Gethsemane was without question the greatest that has ever come to mankind, yet out of it came the greatest good in the promise of eternal life” (“The Blessings of Adversity,” Ensign, February 2009).
The “trial, disappointments, sadness, and heartache” of adversity come to us from “two basically different sources” according to Elder Scott. “Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. 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 our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different.”
The correction for the first source – transgression of the commandments of God – is repentance, “the only path to permanent relief.” The second type of adversity comes from God and is “the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments… (p. 54).
“True enduring happiness with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties comes from a life centered in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled…” (p. 56).
I have experienced many different kinds of adversity, and I would not have asked for any of them. I have learned, however, that adversity helps me to grow and to climb to a higher level. I have also learned to ask “what can I learn from this experience” instead of “why me.” I suppose the best question we can ask is “why did the Lord allow this affliction to come into my life at this time and what does He want me to learn from it.”