My nephew and his wife lost their six-month-old son this week, and my thoughts and prayers have been with them and their extended families. I am grateful that they have a good understanding of the plan of salvation and a temple marriage to sustain them through this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers have been with them all week, pleading for Heavenly Father to bless and strengthen them. I thought of them when I read a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles titled “Opposition in All Things.”
Elder Oaks opened his talk with the following quote: “The purpose of mortal life for the children of God is to provide the experiences needed `to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life’ (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). As President Thomas S. Monson taught us so powerfully this morning, we progress by making choices, by which we are tested to show that we will keep God’s commandments (see Abraham 3:25). To be tested, we must have the agency to choose between alternatives. To provide alternatives on which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition.”
Elder Oaks explains that “agency and opposition were central to the Father’s plan” from the very beginning. Heavenly Father wants us to grow, develop, and advance to be like Him. He knows that the best way to do this is by using our agency to make choices. Our decisions determine our destiny.
Satan tempts us to sin in order that he can bring us under his control, but temptations to sin are not the only kind of opposition. Other oppositions come simply because of mortal life. Whatever the cause of the opposition, the choices we make determine whether or not the opposition helps us become more like Heavenly Father.
Elder Oaks quotes President Thomas S. Monson’s explanation: “Some of you may at times have cried out in your suffering, wondering why our Heavenly Father would allow you to go through whatever trials you are facing…
“Our mortal life, however, was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heart-breaking sorrows, and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.”
Elder Oaks explains that God rarely intervenes, but “He does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them…. He does not prevent all disasters, but He does answer our prayers to turn them aside or He does blunt their effect.
“Through all mortal opposition, we have God’s assurance that He will `consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain’ (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:2). We have also been taught to understand our mortal experiences and His commandments in the context of His great plan of salvation, which tells us the purpose of life and gives us the assurance of a Savior.”
As difficult as it is to lose a child, I am sure there is comfort in knowing that Heavenly Father has plan for all us. His plan includes the sealing of families together. My nephew and his wife will yet have the blessing of rearing their son because they went to the temple to be married for all eternity.