Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You're Stronger Than You Think
Almost a day doesn't go by that I don't find out news that a family member or friend is going through a horrible challenge in their life. Honestly, it gets a little scary to answer the phone or read an email, because I'm afraid of hearing even more bad news.
Sure, I know, this is part of life, this is why we're here, but it sure feel like the trials and challenges of life are increasing at light speed. I don't even have enough fingers and toes to count all the people I know who are going through horrible life challenges that range anywhere from medical issues to relationship problems and every aspect of life.
I find that as I go through the day my mind is filled with concern and heartache for the many loved ones who are experience pain and anguish. And I wonder, how can I help? What can I do?
I pray a lot. I know the temple prayer roll telephone number by heart.
We've been told that things would get rough during the last days. They are. Yet in the midst of it all, we have been given promises and blessing to help us through our deepest, darkest moments. And when we get through these trials and challenges, we look back and wonder, how did I get through that?
I love the scripture in Ether 12:27 (I know this by heart too because it's my favorite scripture) And if men come unto me I will show them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them;
Sometimes when we are going through a challenge we fall into the trap of discouragement, self-pity, and depression. We spend so much time trying to determine what we did wrong in the past to deserve the unpleasant happenings of the moment that we fail to resolve the challenges of the present. Og Mandino wrote in his book The Greatest Miracle in the World, “If we lock ourselves in a prison of failure and self-pity, we are the only jailers … we have the only key to our freedom.” (New York: Frederick Fell Publishers, 1975, p. 61.)
We can let ourselves out of such a prison by turning to the Lord for strength. With His help we can use our trials as stepping-stones. The keys are in our hands.
Our challenge is to endure. There will always be testings and trials along life’s paths. But heartaches and tragedies don't need to defeat us if we remember God’s promise.
I am not a runner. I hate running. But I admire greatly the people who do. Especially Olympic athletes. One gold-medal winner said his success was achieved by being able to endure the pain of commitment and self-discipline. Aren't we all part of a race, to obtain eternal life?
I found a wonderful talk by Marvin J. Ashton about this. In it he said:
The Apostle Paul likened life to a great race when he declared: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain.” (1 Cor. 9:24.) And before the words of Paul fell upon the ears of his listeners, the counsel of the Preacher, the son of David, cautioned: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (See Eccl. 9:11; Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13.) What does it take to endure in the race for eternal life, to become a champion? To become a winner in the race for eternal life requires effort—constant work, striving, and enduring well with God’s help. But the key is that we must take it just one step at a time. The ingredient that is essential in learning to endure is consistent effort. In our race for eternal life, pain and obstacles will confront all of us. We may experience heartaches, sorrow, death, sins, weakness, disasters, physical illness, pain, mental anguish, unjust criticism, loneliness, or rejection. How we handle these challenges determines whether they become stumbling stones or building blocks. To the valiant these challenges make progress and development possible. Sometimes as children we were told everything would be all right. But life is not like that. No matter who you are, you will have problems. Tragedy and frustration are the unexpected intruders on life’s plans. Someone has said, “Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.” Marvin J. Ashton, “‘If Thou Endure It Well’,” Ensign, Nov 1984, 20
Even when life kicks you when you are already down, you have been blessed with a divine strength to help you get through even your most difficult, unbearable moments. Just like Elder Ashton said, constant work, striving and enduring to the end, are the keys to getting us through these tough moments. We can do it.