In the last General Conference before his death, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, an apostle of the Lord, gave a memorable talk entitled “Come What May and Love it.” In this talk, he explains that the title of the talk is the advice his mother gave him at a time when he was upset over a football game he’d lost. He explained that every life has moments of hardship or sadness, and over time, he had developed several techniques for coping with them.
The first was to learn to laugh at mishaps instead of getting angry. He suggests this lengthens your life and makes the lives of others around you more pleasant as well. This is a lesson I learned long ago. I teach young children in church and there was a day when we found a body in the classroom-he turned out to be asleep, but looked dead-and a child asked me to explain where babies came from. The students got the giggles at the wrong moment and every carefully planned activity seemed to go awry. I could burst into tears or I could laugh. Over time, I’ve learned that laughter is better. When I have a bad class, I go home and search for the humor in it, and am somewhat known for my funny teaching stories. It just seems easier than crying, which is what I used to do after bad days.
Elder Wirthlin’s next tip was to seek for the eternal. He reminds us no one is exempt from trials, and points to several scriptural heroes who struggled with great trials, including Abraham and Moses. While their trials were great, there were eternal blessings that came from the trials. Trials can become blessings, but we can’t always see what the blessing will be just at first. God sees life through an eternal spectrum and knows things we don’t know. If we can trust Him, eventually, we too will understand how our trials can bless us and what we’ve learned from coping with them. Elder Wirthlin taught, “Sometimes the very moments that seem to overcome us with suffering are those that will ultimately suffer us to overcome.”
He next suggests adopting the principle of compensation. Elder Wirthlin explains, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.” This step, too, requires patience and faith, but it can help if we look at the loss and imagine what the compensation would be. Again, if we develop enough trust in God, who is our Heavenly Father, waiting for the compensation can help us through the trials. Anticipation brings pleasure to lives.
His fourth step is to trust God and Jesus. This is encompassed in the previous steps, but it is helpful to keep it in mind as a separate step. It’s easy to trust God when things are going well, but the real test of faith is to see if we still trust Him when we can’t see how things could possibly work out. Reading the scriptures can help, because they are filled with true stories of people who trusted God and were rewarded for their faith.
One of my favorite stories of trust is found at the start of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Lehi, a wealthy man, was called to be a prophet. When his life was endangered, he was told by God to take his family, leave behind his wealth, and flee into the wilderness. While most of us would have serious doubts about that, perhaps even wondering if we’d really heard God correctly, Lehi didn’t hesitate. He packed up a few essentials and left everything behind. He had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, and he had faith in those prophecies. He knew if he’d stayed, he’d have been killed, either by the people of Jerusalem, or those who would come to destroy it shortly.
While most of us won’t receive direct revelation telling us what’s coming up, we can learn to place our trials in God’s hands and then trust Him to handle them well. In the meantime, we can train ourselves to look for the joy in every day. Even in the very worst days, there can be small bits of joy if we trust God enough to search for them.
Come what may and love it.
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.