I love the example of Job. His record attests that he was faithful and true despite tremendous hardship. Rather than cursing God for his struggles and difficult situation, Job praised God all the day long.
Job, a just and perfect man, was blessed with great riches; then, Satan obtains permission from the Lord to tempt and try Job. Job’s property and children are destroyed, yet he praises and blesses the Lord.
We can choose to be like Job, who once seemed to have everything a person could possibly want but then lost it all. Yet Job responded by saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return … the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The following talk delivered by President Thomas S. Monson could really be sad. His longing for his sweet Francis could be mourned forever. Yet because of Jesus Christ, his sorrow and heartache are replaced with joy, happiness, and anticipation for a better day. Having passed on to the other side, he experiences that every day now.
As previously mentioned, Job was a rich man. He had seven sons and three daughters, but his property and children were all taken away from him. What effect did this have on his reaction? Job responded, speaking of the Lord, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job clearly knew what Joshua knew: the Lord “will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
According to President Thomas S. Monson, Job was shorn of his possessions, scorned by his friends, afflicted by his suffering, and shattered by the loss of his family; he was urged to “curse God, and die.” Yet Job did not blame God but was grateful in every circumstance.
How is that possible? Job lost everything, yet he remained faithful and appreciative to the Lord. When we struggle to cheerfully face our challenges, do we ever look to the example of others to glean hope, courage, and faith from their examples? One might say that Job wasn’t normal. Have you heard how he talked?
“He also shall be my salvation,” Job attested. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
That includes perhaps my favorite line of all: “I know that my redeemer liveth.”
My perspective is that Job thought and spoke like this because that is exactly how he got through his tremendously difficult challenges. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Job 1) praised the Lord, 2) followed him with perfect precision, 3) endured when necessary, and 4) feared God and eschewed evil.
(Now eschew is not a typical word we use a lot in our day. What does eschew even mean? Well in context, one would say it means to resist or avoid. But the thesaurus uses even more powerful terminology by referring to similar verbs such as reject, shun, or disdain.)
Lastly, 5) Job did not dabble in sin. He forthrightly rejected, disdained, and shunned it. He proactively fought against wickedness.
Grateful in any circumstance, Job completely trusted the Lord to take care of all of his other concerns and praised him for his goodness—and so can we.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered. When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore ‘they had swollen exceedingly,’ and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. ‘Nevertheless,’ Nephi said, ‘I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.’”
Job’s afflictions helped make him who he was. Similarly, it just so happens a handful of the most wonderful people I have ever met have shared the devastating burden of acute arthritis. Their bodies gave out on them, yet their spirits have soared. My life is better, sweeter, and fuller because I had the privilege of mingling with greatness, not a privilege I take lightly. I will always speak their names with reverence.
Mary Jane Davis—She was kind and thoughtful. I was just a small boy at the time, but when with her, I felt like the most important person on Earth, because that is just how she treated me.
Hannah Johnson—By the time I met this good woman, I was fully grown and starting a family of my own. She was mindful of our struggles and was patient, loving, and always happy to see us.
Myrtle Curtis—Though I was just one of many grandchildren, I felt like her favorite. We all did. Her kind and gentle nature helped us to feel safe, worthwhile, and loved.
Margie Stucki—She always improves the status quo. Her influence is everywhere: meals, outings, and activities became lifelong memories. She consistently made life better, sweeter, and a lot more fun.
I am still coming to learn and understand the magnitude of their contributions.
A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.
The Savior Jesus Christ set a perfect example to help and lead us where we should go and how we should live, then he arranged for dozens of other examples and hundreds of instances to lead and guide us back to His presence and help us navigate the hardships that we face in life. We have been given much.
But when your confidence trembles with pain and your faith begins to flounder remember Job—and Margie, Myrtle, Hannah, and Mary Jane—and others in your life that held fast to their convictions despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, because with God’s help, everything is possible.
Whatever your challenge, it will be more manageable and less burdensome with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Millions of lives testify of that truth with more evidence every year.
“[T]he fruit of living the gospel is evident in the lives of Latter-day Saints everywhere… ‘A notable miracle hath been done’ in the lives of millions of members of the Church . . .
In this Church, what we know will always trump what we don’t know” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” April 2013).
It is challenging but vital to remain firm and steadfast when we find ourselves being refined “in the furnace of affliction,” something that comes sooner or later to all of us in mortality.
“Without God, these dark experiences tend to despondency, despair, and even bitterness. With God, comfort replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow,” said Elder Christofferson. He then explained that divine help can make all the difference. “Remaining firm in the faith of Christ will bring His sustaining grace and support. He will convert trial into blessing,” and in Isaiah’s words, ‘give … beauty for ashes.’”
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of Christ’s parables is the hope we can have in the midst of our challenges. Not only did Christ heal and lift those around Him in the doldrums of life, but He shared His power with His apostles so that they, too, could lift and build and strengthen those around them. Like the father who pleaded for the welfare of his son, “Have compassion on us,” we too plead for help.
“The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know,” declared Elder Jeffrey Holland. “Don’t let your questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.”
My sweet wife is a convert to the Church. She joined as a teenager and was the catalyst for many of her friends and eventually her mother, who followed her to the waters of baptism two years later. My wife didn’t have the benefit of primary or home evenings through her life as I did. She did not have a family of faithful ancestors who prepared the gospel way for her like mine. Yet she pioneered on her own, ever faithfully following the principles of the gospel. This fall marks 40 years since her baptism, and the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ are very evident in her life and, as a result, now in mine.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light that shines through the darkness of our lives.
In the words of Elder Holland, “Fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.”
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.