Throughout my life, I’ve experienced — as have most of you, I’m sure — times when I’ve wondered, “I’m doing everything right. I’m trying so hard to be good and to follow God. So why am I not being blessed? Why is this trial not being lifted from me?”
I felt it on my mission. I felt it during painful breakups. Sometimes I even feel it when I’m dealing with a flare up of my dreaded stomach problems. Life is hard and painful, and sometimes it’s downright discouraging.
In those moments when I feel forsaken or forgotten, I think of David’s psalm where he, in a moment of completely raw vulnerability, asks the Lord,
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
When I read those words for the first time, I felt as though my heart would break. ‘Yes!’ I thought, ‘This is exactly how I feel!’ I can imagine David’s voice cracking in emotion when he asks, “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever?” (emphasis added)
Sometimes it truly does feel like things are never going to get better; that God has forgotten us in our moment of deepest need. We wonder if God will stay silent forever, never giving us the help and relief that we so desperately crave.
Yet the end of that psalm gives me so much hope and strengthens my faith:
5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
Even though David felt abandoned and lost, He remembered the moments when the Lord had blessed Him and seen him through his afflictions. He recognized that the Lord had dealt “bountifully” with him in times past and that He is always watching over us, even when we don’t feel it. There is no one more worthy of our trust than God, and no more important time to trust Him than when we are struggling and questioning His presence in our lives.
Our Father in Heaven sees the big picture and knows what is for our eternal good. Along those lines, Elder Richard G. Scott taught,
“The path you are to walk through life may be very different from others. You may not always know why He does what He does, but you can know that He is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He would have you suffer no consequence, no challenge, endure no burden that is superfluous to your good” (Richard G. Scott, “Obtaining Help from the Lord,” October 1991).
I don’t believe that Heavenly Father creates all of our problems. Truthfully, I can’t imagine that He is inflicting my health issues upon me. But I do believe that He knows better than I do, and He allows those painful trials to exist because He knows that I will learn eternal principles from them, and perhaps that I will be able to comfort others who are experiencing similar struggles.
When I’m questioning His plan and why He allows me to suffer, I often think of a small child who wants a candy bar before dinner. When his mother or father says no, the child begins to cry. The mother and father understand that the candy bar is not an adequate dinner, and that eating it before dinner will probably ruin their child’s appetite.
But even though his parents understand why he shouldn’t eat the candy bar right now, the child just cannot for the life of him understand. He can’t yet grasp the logic that his parents do, instead insisting that his parents are just mean and won’t give him what he wants.
Compared to Heavenly Father, we’re those little toddlers! We can’t understand all that Heavenly Father does, so sometimes His plan just doesn’t make sense to us.
But His plan is always best, so much better than ours. He is always mindful of our eternal progression, not just our comfort right at this second. He is so aware of us, even when we might not feel it.
So don’t give up hope. As Elder Holland said, there are good things ahead for those who trust in God.
Amy Carpenter is the site manager and editor for LDSBlogs.com. She served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she learned to love mountains and despise snow. She has a passion for peanut butter, dancing badly, and most of all, the gospel.