Overcoming Tragedy

Overcoming Tragedy

When super typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines with the resultant loss of thousands of homes and lives many had cause to reflect on the tragedies we experience. The loss of employment, the death of a loved one or the missing out on a job opportunity; in their own way they are ‘typhoons that cause some pain and anguish.

We came into mortality knowing we would be tested and cheered at the chance. There has never been a people that have been spared from adversity which are the tests of mortality. Scripture is replete with examples of great men and women who have faced adversity. Abraham was called upon to sacrifice his son and Sariah left her urban home to dwell in a tent in the wilderness. The Lord reminded Moses that the trial of his desert wandering was for a purpose, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and prove [test] thee, to know what was in thine heart (Deut. 8:2).Some trials are particularly challenging in their physical and emotional demands and on such occasions we can take strength by remembering that others have successfully completed the path of adversity you may be traveling.

With the sting of adversity, some throw up their hands in despair and turn from God and yet others, with faithful resilience, turn to God to be sustained by His healing hand and the helping hands of His servants. I know of few examples where the Lord takes adversity from us. He knows that personal growth comes through overcoming tribulation and His loves is such that we are not abandoned but on asking Him on high in faith are given the power to overcome adversity and consequently to become what Christ would have us become.

How we respond to adversity shows what is in our hearts. Joseph Smith was wrongfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail and the Lord told him that his afflictions “shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). The Lord reminded the Prophet Joseph that when endured; glory and blessings follow tribulation (D&C 58:3-4). In the midst of affliction we may wish to do without the trial but my experience has been that as I have stayed close to God my trials have ultimately been for my good.

Modern prophets have also spoken of the tribulation we face in mortality. President Ezra Taft Benson said, 'No cross, no crown. No gall, no glory. No thorns, no throne.” President David O McKay added that “There is no development of character without resistance; there is no growth of spirituality without overcoming.” [Conference Report October, 1945] President Monson has taught that ‘faith forged in the furnace of trials and tears is marked by trust and testimony.” [Conference Report,1987] When endured well, suffering brings saintliness.

The Lord does not expect us to bear our burdens alone. He pleaded with us to “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Psalms 55:22) and Alma the younger taught his son Helaman that “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles and their afflictions” and finally the Lord said to Joseph Smith, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7-10).

When the ‘typhoons of life make land fall, and they will, accept them for what they are, turn and face God so He may help to lighten the load and with all the determination you can muster hold your head high and move onward and forward with faith and courage. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “The Lord knows our bearing capacity, both to coping and to comprehending and He will not give us more to bear than we can mange at that moment; though to us it may seem otherwise.” [Conference Report October 1982]

I have learned that Filipinos are a faithful, courageous and resilient people and that the promise that the Messiah will come with 'healing in His wings' (Malachi 4:2) is a promise for each of you in your moments of greatest despair.