Monday, September 6, 2010

All Things Work Together for Good

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

All Things Work Together for Good, by Elder James B. Martino
Of the Seventy

It's interesting to talk about difficulties, trials, and suffering. Part of me wants to avoid too close of a personal analysis for fear that doing so will somehow invoke a new wave of difficulties, trials, and suffering. On the other side of the coin, the difficulties, trials, and suffering of those who are far away (perhaps in abject poverty) are difficult to talk about because there seems little that we can do to help or even fully understand what all is happening in their lives.

Difficulties, trials, and suffering seem to be the most common reason for the abandonment of faith cited by those who no longer believe in God (from my personal experience). They ask, "Why me?", "What did I do to deserve this?", or even "What did those small children on the other side of the world do to deserve their lot?" These are difficult questions if not addressed with the eye of faith. Elder Martino suggests that instead of these questions, we should ask: "What am I to do? What can I learn from this experience? What am I to change?"

Deep down, we all know that everyone faces trials and tests—although the trials and tests of some seem either exceedingly light or overbearingly heavy—but "it is how we react to those difficulties that will determine our success and happiness. . . the question is not when we will face them but how we will face them."

Even though I've never been a sporty fellow, I enjoyed the humorous—and applicable—story that Elder Martino shared:

With the desire to become the next mighty ballplayer, he decided to go outside and practice. He held the baseball in one hand and the bat in the other, and he threw the ball into the air. With a wish to hit the ball as far as he could, he took a great swing, but the ball fell to the ground without even touching the wood of the bat. Not to be denied, he went at it again. As he was about to throw the ball in the air, his determination grew as the thought of a powerful hit came into his mind. But alas, the results were the same. The ball lay on the ground. But as any good ballplayer knows, you have three strikes before you are out. He concentrated even more, threw the ball in the air, and gave the mightiest swing he had ever attempted. As the ball again fell to the ground, the tears began to swell in his eyes. Then all of a sudden a great smile appeared, and he said, “What a pitcher!”

I want to face trials with the faith and understanding that all things will work together for good if I love and trust God (see Rom. 8:28). While this attitude is in no way a guarantee against trials, it will help preserve the testimony that God lives and loves all his children, even those who are experiencing trials or even living overbearingly difficult lives.

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