Monday, October 3, 2011

Be cheerful through adversity

This is my talk that I gave on 9/18/2011 in sacrament meeting. I thought I would share it here with you.

Being Cheerful through Adversity

Adversity will either be a constant or occasional companion for each of us throughout our lives. There is no way around it and we cannot avoid it. The only Question is how we will react to it. Will our adversities harden our hearts and be stumbling blocks or will they soften our hearts and be used as stepping stones?

We learn in 2nd Nephi, in order for God’s children to appreciate joy, they must also be subject to misery, and in order to accomplish the purposes of God, there must be “an opposition in all things.” Our adversities are a part of that opposition.

Elder Howard W Hunter said “We came to mortal life to encounter resistance. It was part of the plan for our eternal progress. Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being or joy”

Some adversities are individual others effect larger groups of people. Think of the things we have seen around the world in our lifetime, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis and flooding. These huge catastrophes are tragedies, but may have another purpose. The lord uses adversities to send messages to his children. In Isaiah Chpt 29 He prophesied that in the last days the Lord would visit all nations with great natural disasters. In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 43, The Lord speaks of calling upon all nations of the earth by the mouth of his servants and also “by the voice of thundering’s, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind” Surely these great adversities are not without some eternal purpose or effect. They can turn our hearts to God.

We can’t prevent these types of natural disasters but we can determine how we will react to them. Several years ago there was a devastating hurricane that destroyed thousands of homes in Florida. A news story quoted two different people who had suffered the same tragedy and received the same blessings: Each of their homes had been totally destroyed, but each of their family members had been spared death or injury. One said that this tragedy had destroyed his faith; how, he asked, could God allow this to happen? The other said that the experience had strengthened his faith. God had been good to him, he said. Though the family’s home and possessions were lost, their lives were spared and they could rebuild the home. The great gift of agency gives each of us the power to choose how we will act when we suffer adversity.

In the July 1998 Ensign, Elder Dallin H Oaks, recalls a memorable lesson he learned form Chicago Daily News columnist Sydney J Harris. Harris wrote:

“I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the news stand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn’t even acknowledge it.”

“A sullen fellow, isn’t he? I commanded.

“Oh, he is that way every night,’ shrugged my friend.

“Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?’ I asked

“Why not?’ inquired my friend. ‘Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?’

“As I thought about this incident later, Harris said, it occurred to me that the important word was ‘act.’ My friend acts toward people; most of us react toward them. He has a sense of balance which is lacking in most of us; he knows who he is, what he stands for, how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility for incivility, because then he would no longer be in command of his conduct”

I like that example because it challenges each of us to focus our attention on how we are personally going to respond to the adversities that are without fail going to happen to us throughout our lives.

One trick I try to use often when someone has wronged me or offended me is, replacing my anger and hurt with empathy. When I try to put myself in the other persons shoes and understand where they are coming from, my love for them increases and I am more sincerely able to pray for them. When I can sincerely pray for someone, it reminds me that, the worth of soles are great in the sight of God. He desires all of his children to repent so they might live with Him again, even those who have offended us.

President Eyring explains that the true test of life is “to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments he gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us.”

It is not when life is good and we are comfortable when we grow the most. It is often when we are full of heartache and disappointment when we grow into strong characters, become more courageous, become closer to the Savior and strengthen our testimonies.

In the 1995 November Ensign Jane Bleak said “Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding and compassion, witch polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.”

There was a time, not too long ago, when my life took a dramatic turn. Full of heartache and pain, I laid in my bed feeling sorry for myself asking questions like, “why me? And what did I do to deserve this? Where have I gone wrong?” My heart and mind where both full of, fear of the unknown and doubt that I could make it through this. As I lay there pondering, the spirit flooded my mind with things that I have learned like, Where there is fear there cannot be faith, a scripture in Timothy that says “For God hath NOT given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”, also I heard my mission presidents words “Sister Daly, where is your faith?” That moment I knew what I needed to do to feel strong and be happy. I felt my Saviors love and I had confidence that He would carry me through if I would put my fears aside and exercise my faith in him.

I now try to resist the temptation to ask, “Why?” or feel sorry for myself instead, I ask for Heavenly Fathers guidance through my trials. He has blessed me with hope in the future , helped me to heal my heavy heart, made me more aware of the goodness around me, given me opportunities to serve, deepened my compassion for others, and Magnified my love for family and friends. Through it all I have gained a testimony that our challenge is to surrender our will to our Heavenly father because only then can we be refined and polished in the ways he has specifically designed for each of us.

Sometimes we can learn from the adversity of others. The courage, faith and action of one person who is able to cope with adversity cheerfully can be a great blessing to others who are strengthened by the example.

In the book titled Adversity, Elaine Cannon shares this valuable example:

“An old cowboy said he had learned life’s most important lessons from Hereford cows. All his life he had worked cattle ranches where winter storms took a heavy toll among the herds. Freezing rains whipped across the prairies. Howling, bitter winds piled snow into enormous drifts. Temperatures might drop quickly to below zero degrees. Flying ice cut into the flesh. In this maelstrom of nature’s violence most cattle would turn their backs to the ice blasts and slowly drift downwind, mile upon mile. Finally, intercepted by a boundary fence, they would pile up against the barrier and die by the scores.

“But the Herefords acted differently. Cattle of this breed would instinctively head into the windward end of the range. There they would stand shoulder-to-shoulder facing the storm’s blast, heads down against its onslaught.

“‘You always found the Herefords alive and well,’ said the cowboy. ‘I guess it’s the greatest lesson I ever learned on the prairies—just face life’s storms’” (Adversity [1987], 133–34).

Similarly, if we face up to our individual adversities or hardships, they can become a blessing. God will not give us adversities we cannot handle, and He will bless us richly for patiently doing the best we can in the circumstances.

I would like to end with a few quotes that I read often.

Elder M. Russell Ballard says, “Rather than waste time and energy worrying over our ability to endure to the end, “Just do the very best you can each day. Do the basic things and, before you realize it, your life will be full of spiritual understanding that will confirm to you that your Heavenly Father loves you. When a person knows this, then life will be full of purpose and meaning, making balance easier to maintain.”

Elder Richard G. Scott teaches that “sadness, disappointment, and severe challenges are events in life, not life itself. . . . They should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do.” With the reminder that the Lord told His prophet Lehi that “men are that they might have joy,” Elder Scott says, “[The Lord’s] intent is that each of us finds joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master, and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland “… I testify of God’s love and the Savior’s power to calm the storm,” “They sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”

And finally

President Thomas S. Monson declares. “Our promised blessings are beyond measure, Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us. Fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

I challenge you to remember that you can be transformed through your righteous choices, To do the very best you can in your circumstances, Find Joy in life, remember the adversity that you face is meant to refine you, not to destroy you, and to have faith that the blessings will come! It is my testimony that our Father in heaven loves us and wants us to find joy as we exercise faith in him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Susan said...

Yay! I'm so glad you posted this, Suzi. I didn't get to hear the end of your talk thanks to a certain 2-year-old, so I'm glad I could read it here. Very inspiring!

Kandace Welch said...

Very good reminder that we can still choose to be happy even if we feel adversity in our life. Thanks for posting. I miss you and wish we could live closer!