In gospel math A+B doesn’t always equal C. Do you believe that? If you have been a member of the Church for any length of time or served a mission, you know what I mean. The blessings of the gospel are apparent everywhere you look. Do you see it?
Let me give you an example. How many times have you checked your wallet or purse and found money you didn’t realize you had? Paying one’s tithing frequently results in confusing calculus. Or perhaps you or your loved ones arrived home safely in the midst of a terrible storm, just one more example of the Pythagorean Theorem in the principles of prayer.
When I was a young man, I was in a serious car accident that put me in the hospital for two-and-a-half months. I remained unconscious and in intensive care for two weeks after the crash. Not only was I miraculously healed, the costs were all covered by my employer’s insurance. Now the unbeliever may say that these situations are just coincidence or luck, but I tell you these are just a couple examples from dozens throughout my life. And I expect if you stop and think about it for a moment, it’s the same in yours.
Consider for a moment the times the hand of the Lord has furthered your efforts, elongated your life, and blessed your family by the ideal integration of incredible integers. I believe you will be surprised as you enumerate these instances, math or not.
The beloved King Benjamin taught it this way:
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you. (Book of Mormon, Mosiah, Chapter 2:20-25)
But the critic says “I know someone who was devastated by financial crisis in his or her life. And there are many others that don’t know where their next meal is coming from, let alone how to pay the bills that have overwhelmed them. Not everyone is so lucky.” Millions suffer tragedy, countless face financial devastation, disease, and social chaos. What about them?
And to that I respond…
Good question. What about them? That is a frequent question asked in my family history class. What about those that were not so blessed to hear the gospel and benefit from its billions of blessings? If I were teaching this principle to my family history class, I would ask for help from the students.
There are many that have not been so fortunate to have been given the blessings of the gospel. That doesn’t seem fair either, but that is where the math of the gospel gets really interesting. Invariably, a hand would shoot up and one of the brothers or the sisters in my class would respond with something like this:
“Brother Penning, those that did not get the opportunity to enjoy all the blessings of the gospel in this life will receive the chance in the next life, but then because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ their opportunity will be coupled with the joy of eternal life as well. We get to play a small part in this journey to help them receive the great blessings of the gospel.”
And so it is with the countless blessings or hardships of this life. In a small way we can rejoice in others’ success and help shoulder their burdens or lift the feeble when hands hang down. We can testify of the goodness of God and opportunity of a blessed life made possible through the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we do so, the atonement which he wrought in behalf of all men strengthens and lifts us up by the good word of Jesus Christ and our lives are made full and at peace even in the midst of hardship, loss, pain, and suffering.
I sometimes wonder how the good people of the world face challenges and difficulty without the understanding of the gospel and the great plan of happiness. But I don’t have much time to wonder. I would rather spend my time sharing the blessings of the gospel message that are so vital to our time in this world and essential to everlasting happiness in the world to come. In this life we get but a glimpse of the mansions in heaven prepared for the faithful who endure to the end.
“All difficulties which might and would cross our way must be surmounted. Though the soul be tried, the heart faint, and the hands hang down, we must not retrace our steps; there must be decision of character.”
“Having confidence in the power, wisdom, and love of God, the Saints have been enabled to go forward through the most adverse circumstances, and frequently, when to all human appearances, nothing but death presented itself, and destruction [seemed] inevitable, has the power of God been manifest, his glory revealed, and deliverance effected; and the Saints, like the children of Israel, who came out of the land of Egypt, and through the Red Sea, have sung an anthem of praise to his holy name.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 19: Stand Fast through the Storms of Life)
As I write these words, I am flying on an airplane 39000 feet above the surface of the earth. This aircraft hurtles through the sky at ever increasing speeds (576 mph) in temperature of -61 degrees below zero. The lot of us was raised to this point from the lift of a wing. This massive 737, with dozens of people on board, does something amazing seemingly effortlessly, yet at one time its regular flight was only a dream. And so it is with God’s plan for us.
With the great plan of happiness because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will all be exalted to a state of glory, and those that choose to follow the Savior of the World will live eternally in his presence and experience everlasting joy. Though that description sounds wonderful, it falls far short of the actual reward in store for the faithful.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. — I Corinthians 2:9
Because of Jesus Christ, we have all been redeemed. We simply need to accept the gift he offers us and do our best to follow him. He provides the way. Following his formula results in a known result. The outcome is assured. The victory is won. The question is whose side you will be on.
Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. — Winston Churchill
In gospel math, A+B equals much more than C. For the one that endures to the end, it’s actually infinity.
We can find joy in surviving hardship and live in peace here and now.
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In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.