We were driving across town this morning to run an errand. I mentioned to my husband that I needed to write an article today—and yet again, I had no idea what to write about. I told him that it’s awfully hard to write articles about “Strengthening Our Faith” in times like these. The thought immediately came to mind that it’s times like these that strengthen our faith. Yes, I know, sometimes it takes me a long time to get to the obvious. If we had an easy life, with no tests to our faith, we would not progress. We must face opposition to grow and learn—which is the whole purpose of earthly life.
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (1 Nephi 2:11)
Since that short conversation with my husband, I’ve thought all day about the things in my life that made me grow, and the things that strengthened my faith. None of those things were good things; and none of them was easy. I was 22 years old when I gave birth to my first child, who was born with a lung cyst the size of a baseball. She had two major surgeries before she was 12 hours old. Life was not easy for her (or us) for the first 18 months of her life. I grew up quickly. My faith grew by leaps and bounds. It continued to grow through other sick babies, a miscarriage, very rough financial times, deaths of our parents, and later, the unexpected death of my stepson.
Each time I thought I couldn’t get through something, I found peace through the Holy Ghost. The Savior had walked in my shoes and carried my burdens. He had felt my pain. The Holy Ghost wrapped me in the love of the Savior and my Heavenly Father. It was tangible. It was real. Each time that happened, my faith grew.
A worldwide pandemic is certainly opposition. To that, we can add economic struggles, an ugly political arena, social injustice, and civil unrest. Sometimes the opposition seems overwhelming—until I pray. Reverent and humble prayer squelches the heavy feelings of the heart. Then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf described those heavy feelings as darkness and despair.
The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.
Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” Oct. 2008 General Conference).
I highly recommend reading the above talk by President Uchtdorf in its entirety. In fact, it would make good daily reading if you find yourself struggling.
There is no reason to despair—at least not a good one. There are lots of reasons—all good—to have faith and hope. Despair does not come from Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. Light, hope, and faith come from Them through the Holy Ghost.
We all have our trials of life to strengthen us. Each thinks he has the hardest or most severe trials. It may be that they are the most difficult only because they are the hardest or most difficult for you. The diamond is enhanced and made more valuable with polishing. Steel is made harder and more valuable through tempering. So also opposition builds the character of man (Elder Eldred G. Smith, “Opposition in Order to Strengthen Us,” Oct. 1973 General Conference).
Pandemic, social injustice, civil unrest, economic issues, health issues, family problems, lapse in good personal judgment, pain caused by the actions of others—all these things are oppositions or trials that build and strengthen our faith. We are diamonds in the rough being polished by opposition. The natural man in all of us is being tempered through these things. We will get through it all, and we will be better people coming out of these dark times. We are building our faith through opposition one brick at a time. What good would a brick home be if it were missing some of the bricks? God could take away some of our dark moments, but our home would be missing some bricks that keep us dry in winter and cool in summer. He wants us to build strong brick homes to weather all storms. The natural man needs to be tempered by opposition to build the kind of faith needed for our progression. Don’t despair; let the light of Jesus Christ permeate your soul. We will get through it all.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.