Friday, April 5, 2013

Trials and the Atonement

***excerpts from a talk I gave a few weeks ago****

My most recent and favorite calling has been becoming a parent.  Since becoming a parent my understanding of heavenly fathers plan has greatly increased. Now I often wonder how heavenly father feels when he sees his children struggle, make bad decisions, experience pain, when they overcome a great personal challenge, or when they become a loving parent.  I also have gained more understanding as to why he allows us to face challenges.
When Sienna was two weeks old she had to have the PKU screening done. This involved Justin holding our new little baby while the nurse made a small cut on her foot and collected several samples of blood. Sienna with her limited understanding and I being in my postpartum state were both emotional wrecks. Every fiber of my body wanted to grab her and protect her from this pain. It also included a strong desire to smack the nurse for hurting my baby. So why did I not do that? It was because I understood the importance of the PKU test and its vital role in protecting Sienna. The pain she experienced from the test is nothing compared to the pain and heartache she would face if Phenylketonuria went undiagnosed.  These few moments of pain were in essence protecting her from suffering greater pain in the future.
Likewise, Heavenly father has allowed us to face some challenges now in order to prevent us from facing greater trials later. The word of wisdom may be difficult to follow especially, when your peer group (at any age) is constantly tempting and tormenting you for following it, but it is there to protect us. It protects us from the greater trails, pain, and heartache that can be caused by substance abuse. The other second type of trial involves strength.
Until recently Sienna hated tummy time. She would scream bloody murder entire time. Why did I continue to subject her to this if it made her upset and my ears ring in consequence? I did it because she needed tummy time to build the strength and coordination required to hold her head up, crawl, and eventually walk. She needs this to build up her strength so she can progress, grow, and to experience greater happiness.
There are times when heavenly father gives us our “spiritual tummy time” to help us build our spiritual strength and coordination required to return to him. As a result we will eventually experience incomprehensible joy and happiness.
Like any parent would do, when sienna experiences the pain I hold and kiss her, sometimes even shed tears with her. When she is doing tummy time I lay on the ground next to her trying to make to the experience more bearable for her, maybe even enjoyable.  Heavenly father does not leave us leave us comfortless. He provided us with a perfect savior to comfort and strengthen us.
  Deuteronomy 4: 30 and 31 state:
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the lord they god, and shalt be obedient unto his voice.
(For the lord thy God is a merciful god;) he will not forsake thee, nor destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers.
In a quote by Elder Bednar he states:
The savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distresses that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of the soul, no suffering of the spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, “No one understands. No one knows.” No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, he has perfect empathy and can extend to us his arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor,- literally run to us-and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power.”
Sienna can choose to accept the love and comfort I provide or reject it. We similarly can choose to accept, ignore, or reject the saviors’ perfect love, comfort, and strength.
While going through trials we understandably think: “why me?” “Why my dad? He is so kind and understanding. Why does he have to experience so much pain?” With our limited view we don’t fully understand the “why’s.” Many times during our trials we forget about the strengthening and enabling power of the savior. Often we pray to have the trial to be removed instead of asking for the strength to endure and learn from it or even the strength to change it ourselves.
Elder Bednar said,
“As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for the strength to change our circumstances rather than praying to have our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted up.”   
Mosiah 3:19 says,
“and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and Becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
Even though trials may rage against us, the Saviors’ all-encompassing atonement will strengthen and enable us to overcome and change it. The atonement will remind us that these trails will be but a small ripple in the grand view of the ocean of eternal life.
In the words of our savior in John 16:33
“These things I have spoken unto you, that ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”
If we turn to our savior we too shall overcome. Faith through affliction is always pointed with hope toward the future.
I know the savior will comfort, sustain, and strengthen us during times of trial if we allow him too.

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