Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Refiner's Fire

Recently, I have had the opportunity to visit many sick women in our congregation. One such sister recently passed away. She had been battling increasing health problems for years. Her doctors could never quite figure out what was wrong, and so she had to go in for test after test, change medication after medication. As with many physical illnesses, this constant uncertainty and pain became an emotional and financial strain for her and her family. Why did this sweet woman have to go through years of ailment only to pass away suddenly? Why does a loving Heavenly Father, who is supposed to love us enough to give us everything, also allow us -- and sometimes plan for us -- to suffer?

If we look to the scriptures, we know it cannot be punishment for wrongdoing. Look to Job, a man who was "cperfect and dupright, and one that efeared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1, Old Testament). He was smitten with all manner of afflictions. But surely he didn't deserve them. Let us also examine the lives of the Apostles. We read in Acts that many of the Apostles were beaten, stoned, and finally slain because of their exceeding faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. How could these men, who had given up everything to follow their Lord, deserve such tribulation? Furthermore, in the relatively recent year of 1813, a 7-year-old  boy named Joseph Smith, who would later be called as a prophet much like Job, was the victim of a life-threatening infection in his leg. Although this infection was eventually overcome through an experimental surgery, Joseph Smith's life, especially after he was called to be a prophet, was rife with adversity. These adversities included physical harm, public persecution, the death of children, and unfair incarceration. That is not even to touch upon the wars, crimes, and atrocities happening around the world.

Many people have one simple question: If there is a God, and He truly does love us, why do these things happen?

In order to answer this question, we'll have to back up a few years...or millennia. Back to before the world was even created. Did you know that before we came to this earth, we actually lived with our Father in Heaven? Not only that, but we knew Him, and He knew us. And He loved us, more than we would ever be able to imagine. Because He loves us so much, and because He is all-powerful and has the capacity to do so, He created a plan so that we could have everything He does. Do not our earthly father want that as well? That we may have everything he has and more? Our Father in Heaven feels the same way. Thus was presented the Plan of Salvation.

"The plan of salvation presented to and accepted by us in our premortal state includes a probationary period on earth, during which we experience opposites, make choices, learn the consequences thereof, and prepare to return to the presence of God. Experiencing adversity is an essential part of the process. Knowing this, we elected to come into mortality." Ronald E. Poelman

I feel like this topic is too in-depth for one post, so my next couple posts will be about the role of adversity in our lives and how they can actually make us better if we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because that is why we have them. To help us reach our potential.

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