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For the New Year, we seek to make our lives better or to make a change.
For me the year 2017, while it had many good aspects, it was also not my favorite year.
This past year I have faced many trials like everyone does, but these trials were very hard for me. I faced trials that caused me to almost leave my religion. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I desire to grow my own faith and to work on the things that give me doubt and fear.
In May 2009, President Monson shared with us THREE ways to build a strong testimony. He says:
“1st. PRAYER: When we remember that each of us is literally a spirit son or daughter of God, we will not find it difficult to approach Him in prayer. He knows us; He loves us; He wants what is best for us.
2nd. SCRIPTURES: Spending time each day in scripture study will strengthen our foundations of faith and our testimonies of truth.
3rd. SERVICE: There are others who need your help. In the Book of Mormon, we read of noble King Benjamin. He declared: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God”. “
Our testimonies are the motivating influences in our lives for good. It is through them that we are influenced when it comes to our daily choices. Today we all made the choice to attend Church and on a daily basis, we make the choice to follow Christ’s teachings, Gods Commandments, in order to become Disciples of Jesus Christ. Our testimonies help us to control our desires. Our desires play a part in what we focus on in our daily lives and also on how we live.
Neal A. Maxwell in October 1996 spoke about the desires of our hearts, and I wish to share with your some of his words. He quotes Brigham Young from the Journal of Discourses.
“The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the Celestial Kingdom, will find that they must battle every day” Elder Maxwell proceeds to say “Therefor, True Christian Soldiers are more than Weekend Warriors.”
As we work toward discipleship and having a belief on His name we face trials that give us opportunities to grow and opportunities to choose Christ as our rock, our savior and we have the sacred opportunity and blessing to utilize the Atonement in our life.
Recently I relearned that the atonement does not just give us the opportunity to be forgiven of sin, but it heals and comforts in times when we feel helplessly low and week in the face of the adversary. With such powerful knowledge, we have been blessed to know and learn, we would be foolish to not fully utilize the Saviors atonement in every aspect of our life. We cannot overcome trials or make it through this life without him and his atonement.
I have had trials in my life, but these past two years have been especially trying for me. Recently, I have struggled with post-college life and leaving a life of independence to now living at home with my parents again, whom I do love. I was engaged to be married and then unengaged to be married. While I thought this was something I was over and done with, things resurfaced recently and I realized I had not yet overcome that trial in my life. So I am still working on that trial. I have suffered from depression and anxiety. While many trials have come into my life these past two years among them, and by far the worst, was when I severely broke my ankle almost two years ago and that trial is something I still struggle with, the pain of it, to this day. That particular trial had manifested in my life during a time when I did not want it (but who does) and it had shaken my foundation and my entire life. I went from independent and accomplishing great things, to weak, depressed, and in pain.
“To trust God in the light is nothing, But trust him in the dark – that is faith.”
I was in the dark. I felt alone, saddened, betrayed, frustrated, hurt, and unworthy of any blessing. I found myself developing a belief that, for whatever reason, God wasn’t going to give me help or bless me in this particular time of need. I found my prayers becoming lack-luster and routine spewing of ‘what I was supposed to say’. I found my doubts increasing and my faith diminishing.
These thoughts did not by any means disappear with a flip of the switch to turn the light on. These thoughts became a daily battle. The days where the physical pain was increased I found myself doubting and struggling. I broke down. I had lost my confidence in my ability to ever be happy and had lost my ability to believe that God, my Father in Heaven, who I knew loved me, I forgot that He was there. He was only waiting for me to ask.
“What man is there of you, whom if his son ask Bread, will he give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9
I hadn’t asked for bread. But once I did, the loaves came abundantly. In particular, the next day I received an outpouring of love. My FHE group up at school in BYU-Idaho had called me during FHE and my friends and employees called me, all in one day. Heavenly Father sent his earthly angels to minister unto me and to lift me up.
Heavenly Father didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
God will never present a trial that one cannot handle. It is imperative that that individual is partnered with Christ and utilizes the Atonement to help overcome the trial. The Atonement can heal us and provide strength when we are weak, experiencing physical or mental pain and can heal us from our sins. The Atonement is a gift from God.
Recently, I was meeting with my Bishop and told him I did not understand why God, my loving Heavenly Father, would give me trials when I felt like I was doing good in my life when I felt I was strong and firm in my faith. Why would he knock me down?! Bishop told me that God gives us trials at times when he knows we are ready to handle them. That these trials I have been experiencing these past two years were saved for a time when I was finally ready to handle them and make it through them. The trying times are placed in our lives to benefit us. God the all-knowing doesn’t place them at random, he waits for the timing and waits for when it is right.
Elder Anderson from October 2012 “Trial of Your Faith” he said “Every [person] eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there … must make his stand.” Don’t be surprised when it happens to you!
By definition, trials will be trying. There may be anguish, confusion, sleepless nights, and pillows wet with tears. But our trials need not be spiritually fatal. They need not take us from our covenants or from the household of God.
“Remember, … it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened.
My faith has been strengthened through my trials and my faith has grown in trials. I have learned from my trials and ultimately am more prepared to serve the Lord in any capacity. I am stronger and my Faith is firmer in the foundation of the Gospel. I would not wish that trial upon anyone, but I will wish that any trial Heavenly Father brings to you, that you take it on with Faith and remember that He will help bring you through it. Faith promoting experiences bring us closer to Christ and allow us to work on believing on His name.
You gain strength, courage, confidence, and testimony by every experience in which you really stop to look your fears and trials in the face… do the thing you think you cannot do or feel that you cannot overcome.
Brothers and Sister work on your faith, work on you and work on growing closer to Christ and to our Heavenly Father.
Like President Eyring says:
“I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am as Disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on his presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up……or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His Own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.”
Let it ring true to our ear that we have made the choice and that we won’t turn back or let up until He has come again and recognizes us as His own. Let the greatest gift you give this holiday season be the gift of firmer faith for yourself, closer relationship to our Heavenly Father and our brother and savior Jesus Christ. Let your goal forever be heaven and may you every day prepare for his second coming.
I am firmer in my faith today, through the trails I faced yesterday. Let us all work towards heaven and to focus on developing our faith to a belief in His name. This New Year remember Him, remember His birth, His life and His gift to us. The gift of the atonement. Spread the good news and prepare for his coming.
Work on your goals and work on bettering yourself.