Some people spend a great deal of time focused on the sad and scary aspects of life and then find it impossible to be happy. There are, without question, sad and scary things happening, but there are just as many—more, in fact—wonderful and happy things. They don’t get as much attention, however, so you have to find them yourself.
It’s not that we have to ignore the bad, but we don’t have to let them become the focus of our lives, nor do we have to let them rob us of the joy God intended for us to have. Thomas S. Monson, the Mormon prophet, said:
“And yet it is sometimes difficult to view the problems and permissiveness around us and not become discouraged. I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.” (Thomas S. Monson, Consider the Blessings, General Conference, October 2012.)
A recent issue of The Friend, a publication for children who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (the correct name for the church Mormons belong to) contained a true story about a little girl who had recently attended a funeral for a child she knew. Although she hadn’t known him really well, his death, caused by a car accident, frightened her as she became aware that children can die.
“Now she didn’t feel excited for Christmas. She felt worried all the time—scared to get in a car, scared to be apart from her parents, scared to leave her house in case something bad happened to her while she was away. All the Christmas lights on Temple Square couldn’t erase the worried feeling inside her. How could she be happy in a world where she wasn’t always safe?” (See Kimberly Reid, The Light of the World, Friend, December 2012.)
The little girl was visiting Temple Square with her family. Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, it is the home of the most famous Mormon temple. At Christmas time it is decorated with life-size nativities and lights. As she watched the program about the birth of the Savior, she wondered how everyone around her could be so happy if the Savior’s birth didn’t prevent bad things from happening.
A recording of the Mormon prophet came on. He bore testimony of the Savior and read a verse from Corinthians in the New Testament: ““For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The scripture resonated with her, as young as she was. She repeated it so she could remember it and think about it later. She knew everyone died, but now she really knew this was true. Even Jesus Christ had died, and He hadn’t needed to unless He chose to do so. He did choose death because He was the only one who could overcome that death and thus make it possible for all of us to live again.
Erin understood for the first time what she had always been taught. Even though she might die, even though bad things could happen to her and to other children, in the end, she and everyone else would live again, this time safe in God’s arms and Jesus’ love.
She wasn’t afraid anymore.
God can’t take away every trial because it is essential that we have agency—the right to choose. Unfortunately, not everyone makes good choices and sometimes those choices affect other people. While we can choose our own actions, we can’t choose who is affected by our choices. However, we are here to learn and that means we have to have the right to make choices, even bad ones. While God can’t stop every trial, He can help us through the trials. He is ready to help us learn the lessons to be had from the trials and to grow. The love of God, the sacrifices of the Savior, the promise of eternity can help us be happy during hard times in life.
God intends us to be happy in life. It is, in fact, one of the most important purposes in life. The Book of Mormon offers this promise:
“Adam fell that men might be; and men care, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25)
The video below is by a survivor of the September 11 attacks in the United States. He relates how being on the 85th floor of the tower impacted him and what he eventually learned from it that made his life better. He said that after that event, some people said there was no God, but for him, God has never been more real.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.