Whenever I need inspiration about what to write, what to use in a talk, what advice I can give someone, etc., I always turn to one place — the letters my father sent me on my mission.
My father is a man of few words, but he wrote me faithfully every single week — twice, actually, as he wrote me a lengthy email and an actual physical letter sent via snail mail. His words were always a lifeline for me when I was struggling, and I even shrunk and laminated one of his letters to keep in my scriptures. I’m grateful to have a wonderful father who, though imperfect (as we all are), has always strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ through his own firm convictions.
Per usual, I was looking over his letters in an attempt to find some wisdom I could share when I came across the gem that serves as this post’s title: “The same God that gives us sunshine gives us rain.”
Before he shared this simple but striking adage, he was telling me about a frustrating trial someone in my family was going through. Despite the negative aspects of the situation, my dad reflected that all the hard things in this family member’s life would work together for their good. He wrote, “Growth and development of character does not come but through our struggles.”
And truly, our struggles do strengthen us and develop us into more Christlike people, so long as we are humble enough to learn from them. As far as the sunshine analogy goes, it made me realize something about both myself and my Heavenly Father’s plan for me.
I grew up in Northern Virginia, and to say that I love it is an understatement. To me, it’s the most beautiful place in the world — I love the lush, green trees; I adore the rolling hills; I miss the rivers and creeks. That being said, I also love sunshine and strongly dislike rain. In Virginia, it rains considerably often, and I always hated that growing up. I loathed the moment those gray clouds rolled across the horizon, knowing they’d block out the sunshine and warmth I loved.
Yet without the rain, Virginia wouldn’t be Virginia! The streets wouldn’t be canopied with trees, the grass wouldn’t be so green and dense. If the rain didn’t come, Virginia would lose all of the things that make it the place I love.
Similarly, without trials, we wouldn’t grow into the people that our Heavenly Father knows we can become. We wouldn’t gain humility; our compassion and empathy would be hollow; and surely, we wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate the immeasurable gift of the Savior’s Atonement. Without suffering and sorrow — without pain — we couldn’t even begin to comprehend how great His sacrifice for each of us was.
Of course, I still don’t like rain and I don’t think I ever will. On that same note, I don’t like trials! The poem Elder Holland quoted in his 1989 BYU address, “The Will of the Father,” always makes me laugh:
If you can smile when things go wrong
And say it doesn’t matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe
And trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face
When all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud,
There’s something wrong with you.
For one thing I’ve arrived at:
There are no ands and buts,
A guy that’s grinning all the time
Must be completely nuts.
(“Smile, Darn You, Smile”)
I can’t image any one of us likes trials, and that’s okay — but thanks to a lifetime of learning, so beautifully summarized in my father’s letters, I’ve come to realize that those trials we dread are the same things that turn us into the people we want to be.
Without the rain, flowers would fail to bloom, grass wouldn’t be green, and rainbows would cease to take our breath away. Rain, like trials, is a blessing in our lives — even when, at the time, we can’t see it and brush it off as a nuisance.
I believe that’s why the same God who gives us sunshine gives us rain.
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.