Have you ever been faced with a personal problem in which you felt you knew exactly how the problem should be solved, but also knew it was beyond your ability to solve it? Have you ever been tempted to go to the Lord and say, “Okay, God, here’s the problem and here’s what You need to do about it?”
Or have you ever asked God to help you with a problem, disliked the results, and went back to God to complain about it? The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob warned his people of these methods of dealing with God.
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. (Jacob 4:10)
This command really comes down to faith and trust. When we have faith in Him and His plan, we are freed from a desire to tell Him what to do. Instead, we’d much rather let Him do the choosing, since He knows far more than we do.
It can be difficult to put aside what we want to accept that the Lord might have a better plan. We as humans dislike giving up control over our lives, even to God. For this reason, it’s important to work hard on our trust.
Keeping a blessings journal is one way to do this. Each day, try to note something God did for you. As you become accustomed to seeing His hand in your life, it will become easier to trust Him.
Learn to say, “Thy will be done” in your prayers. There is nothing wrong with telling God how you’d like things to be. We’re counseled to study our problems out in our minds, come to a decision, and then ask God if it’s correct. We’re supposed to do our part. However, now the hard part begins. Once we’ve asked God to confirm our choice, we have to accept His answer. If He says you’re on the wrong track, accept that and try again.
God tells us we don’t have to be afraid. We can choose to be afraid, but if we’re doing what God has asked us to do, we need never be afraid of the results. Even though the purpose of His choices may not be clear, He can see much further into the future than we can.
There is a story in the Book of Mormon I love about a man named Abinadi. Abinadi was a prophet sent to preach to a group of people who didn’t want to hear the message. Their priests and their king were corrupted. Even though they intended to kill Abinadi, God promised he couldn’t be killed until he’d delivered his message, and so these wicked people were forced to listen.
Out of all the listeners, one man felt the spirit and was converted. His name was Alma, and he was a priest of the wicked king. However, when he heard Abinadi’s message, he knew it was true and asked the king to spare Abinadi.
When I tell this story to children, they expect Alma to be a hero and save Abinadi. It doesn’t happen that way, though. The king orders Alma killed also, and Alma flees, which upset the children I am teaching terribly. What the children eventually understand, though, is that even though Abinadi is then killed, God’s promise was kept. The reason Abinadi was sent there, and the reason he couldn’t be killed until they’d heard the message, was because God needed Alma’s conversion. Abinadi’s mission—that day and throughout his life—was completed upon the conversion of Alma. Alma will go on to become a prophet and a great leader. His descendants, because they grew up with the gospel, will be among those who see the Savior one day. God saw what my little students could not—He saw the long-range picture, generations away, and acted accordingly.
When we agree to follow God’s counsel, however uncomfortable it might seem to be, we ensure His plans are carried out, giving us and others who are affected by our choices the best possible outcome in life.
This post was originally published in July 2008. Minor changes have been made.
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.