Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand that trials and tests are a major part of mortal life. All human beings are sent to earth for two major purposes. The first purpose is to obtain a physical body, and the second is to prove to God that we will be obedient to Him in all things.
Our loving Heavenly Father allows trials to come into our lives in order for us to prove ourselves worthy to return to His presence by enduring our trials well. The great Abraham saw in vision the premortal life and was taught the importance of life on earth by God.
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
And God saw these souls that they were good, …; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:22-25; emphasis added).
Heavenly Father not only wants us to endure the trials but to endure them “well.” The Prophet Joseph Smith was unjustly incarcerated many times. While he suffered in the Liberty (Missouri) Jail, he cried out to the Lord: “O God, where art thou?” How long are you going to let thy servants “suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions?” After the Prophet had cried out to the Lord, he was rewarded with these words.
My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:1, 3, 7-8; emphasis added.)
We can understand from these scriptures that Heavenly Father’s plan called for His children to pass through tests and trials. Those who endure their trials will be blessed, but those who endure them “well” will be exalted – meaning to be like Heavenly Father and to be with Him forever.
So, how do we endure “well” our trials? This question is the basis for a message in the July 2017 Ensign by President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gives three steps to enduring well.
So many things beat upon us in a lifetime that it may seem hard to endure well…. [He gives several examples of difficulties.]
But a loving God has not set such tests before us simply to see if we can endure difficulty but rather to see if we can endure them well and so become polished….
Our trials and our difficulties give us the opportunity to learn and grow, and they may even change our very nature. If we can turn to the Savior in our extremity, our souls can be polished as we endure.
Therefore, the first thing to remember is to pray always (see Doctrine and Covenants 10:5; Alma 34:19-29).
The second thing is to strive continuously to keep the commandments – whatever the opposition, the temptation, or the tumult around us (see Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:30).
The third crucial thing to do is to serve the Lord (see Doctrine and Covenants 4:2; 20:31).
Tests and trials are not pleasant experiences because they are not meant to be. We are given tests and trials for a purpose, and we know that the purpose is to refine and polish us and to help us become more like our Savior. One of the best ways to become more like the Savior and to endure our trials well is to pray always, keep His commandments, and to serve our fellow beings – just as President Eyring teaches. He continues his remarks with this statement.
In the Master’s service, we come to know and love Him. We will, if we persevere in prayer and faithful service, begin to recognize the hand of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life. Many of us have for a period given such service and felt that companionship. If you think back on that time, you will remember that there were changes in you. The temptation to do evil seemed to lessen. The desire to do good increased. Those who knew you best and loved you may have said: “You have become kinder and more patient. You don’t seem to be the same person.”
You weren’t the same person. You were changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ because you relied on Him in the time of your trial.
It is no secret that people are changed by the tests and trials they face in this life. Some people curse God and become bitter. Others turn to God and become better people. Since we all have the gift of agency, we choose whether we want to be bitter or better. When I am faced with a trial, I have learned to ask, “What can I learn from this experience?” By asking this question, I open my heart and mind to revelation from Heavenly Father to help me face the trial and endure it well.
My older sisters set great examples to me and teach me many lessons. I was once enduring a difficult experience when my oldest sister said, “Big people need big trials.” Later, another sister explained that other tests had prepared me to face this trial because we receive bigger trials as we become better people. These statements made me stop and think. Students are given tests to determine their knowledge, and then they advance to more difficult lessons. Why would God’s tests be any different?
I have seen people fall during what I consider to be a minor trial, and I have seen others endure well trials that I would struggle to endure at all. We are taught that we will never be given greater trials than we can bear if we will rely on the Lord. Therefore, the secret to enduring our trials and doing it well lies in our reliance upon God to help us get through them.
Parents, grandparents, and leaders can show by their words and actions the best way to endure trials. By watching and following good examples, the rising generation can face their trials positively and will see trials as opportunities to gain greater understanding. Families are strengthened by enduring their trials well, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.