Our trials may not be unique, but they are extremely personal.

Sometimes we wonder about whether the trials we have are fair, or just, or that we deserve them.  Yes.  No.  Maybe so.

Did we choose the trials we have, or are we the unlucky targets of unfavorable fortune?  Yes.  No.  Maybe so.

Is it our fault because of some foolish thing, some mistake, some wrong choices and wrong actions we did?  Yes.

Is it our fault for being born with a handicap, an addiction, abusive parents, abortion?  No.

Is it our fault when a misguided world turns on us for trying to do the right thing?  Maybe, maybe not.  It depends on how you want to look at it.

Is it our fault when illness attacks us, when medical conditions limit us, when cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other health problems come upon us?

Is it our fault when we find ourselves at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong crowd, and the wrong things just happen to fall upon us?

Is it our fault when that alcoholic driver slams into our vehicle, totals it, hurts me, hurts my family, and takes a life?

Is it our fault when death suddenly takes away the person we love so much, and leaves us to handle life’s difficult problems without them?

Is it our fault when we witness the suffering of someone else while we, somehow, avoided that suffering?

I thought that part of our existence was to learn to become happy.

I thought that part of our existence was to learn to solve problems.

I thought that part of our existence was to learn to enjoy the journey.

Yet, a great part of our existence is discovering all the bumps, the side tracks, the roadblocks, the storms, the struggles, the pains, the hardships, the stings of death, the sadness, the frustrations, the injustices, the sorrows, the loneliness, the fights, the aggressions, the flaws, the broken-ness of it all.

And, somehow, we find ourselves as the source of all those problems…for someone else….as much as someone is the source of those problems…for us.

I’ll say it again:  “Our problems may not be unique, but they are extremely personal.”  That which we struggle with is the hardest problem for us at that time.

I can’t explain why the struggles we have are the ones we currently have to deal with.

But, these, I know:

I know that for all the “Goliaths” in our lives, for all those seemingly unwinnable fights against seemingly great adversaries that we have to face, if we face them, not with faith in our strength or might or self, but with faith in the Lord instead, He will take whatever we willingly
give Him, and he will help us win that fight, whatever it is.

I know that we accepted these particular challenges before coming to this earth…because we agreed to help the Lord with whatever particular mission we were called to fulfill while here…and we agreed that particular challenges would also stimulate whatever we needed so that we would develop the attributes and skills and dispositions we’d need to become more like Him.

I know that sometimes, we need a reason to draw closer to God, and sometimes, God gives us that particular experience, that particular hardship, to give us a reason to look for Him.

I know that sometimes, we need to travel through the “dark” phases, those difficult phases of life, in order to help us place greater value on the brighter, happier phases of life.

I know that sometimes, those hardships help us shed the things we don’t need, help us gain the things we do need, help us come together as individuals involved, help bind us closer to the people we love, and help us draw closer to the Lord.

I know that personal struggles help us discover our weaknesses and strengths. Struggles with others help us understand a world outside of ourselves. Struggles that we witness outside ourselves give us a chance to help where we can. Struggles we can’t solve alone offer us a chance to work together.

I know that Peace can come after a struggle has been overcome…as a Reward of Relief. It can come while we go through it…as a Word of Encouragement and an Anchor of Hope. It can come before we have to face it…as a Demonstration and Confirmation of our Faith in God.

A life lived in ease and comfort is an untested, unproven life. A life that experiences no pain will never really know what true joy feels like, nor the worth of the joy they could have, nor the worth of the ignorant bliss they currently have.

We don’t look for pain, for suffering, for struggles. We just anticipate that they will happen, for they must happen. The gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t insurance against pain and suffering. It doesn’t mean that righteous living will keep pain away from us. We have to go through struggles and pain.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a resource in the event of pain. It is what we use to deal with pain, to discover who we are, and ultimately, to discover our relationship with God…who helps us through it all.

And to know God and discover his Love for us? That is Joy worth all the Pain!

The LDS Lamplighter