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May God Our Gold Refine


We gingerly pick our way through life’s options trying to minimize our distress and maximize our enjoyment. We flinch at the prospect of an all-vegetable dinner. We contort ourselves to reach each nutrient-free dessert. It would seem that the winners in life are those who navigate life on a cruise ship.

Yet few people experience such uninterrupted sweetness in life. We have a friend who fights an endless battle against numbing depression. Another struggles (with little success) to master compulsions that repeatedly have devastated her life. Another dear friend anguishes with doubts about life and God.

Adult realities are often quite different from our youthful dreams. In the course of our married life, Nancy has had many miscarriages. We lost count somewhere around twenty. In the midst of the early miscarriages, we prayed, got priesthood blessings, spent many hours in doctors’ offices, and fasted. But the miscarriages—and frustration—continued. At one time of keen disappointment, I even threatened heaven with permanent ill-will. “Why should so many people who don’t want children get them while those of us who yearn for them are denied them?”

As a result of our unanswered hope, I learned a very useful lesson: Be grateful in all things. I learned to say each time we lost another pregnancy, “That is great.” If asked why it was great, I could not give a reason. I merely knew that it felt good to go beyond accepting our disappointment with resignation to embracing it with joy.

Our experiences provided a priceless and timeless lesson. I no longer demand that God explain His purposes to me. It is enough that it happened. I trust that He will use it to bless us. Indeed, He already has. When I simply trust Him, I feel a keen joy in faith. Faith bathes every experience with sublime purpose. I still do not prefer miscarriages, but, when they come, I rejoice.

“Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks” (D&C 98:1).

In everything give thanks, for the good, the bad, and the baffling.

“Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted” (D&C 98:2).

Somehow, in ways we cannot comprehend, God is doing exactly what He has promised to do. He is blessing us. It is possible that the only purpose of the miscarriages was to teach us faith. If so, that is reason enough to bear the pain. Our friend who struggles with depression is inexpressibly grateful for glimpses of light in her life. Our friend who is troubled by compulsions has learned to hold to cherished family members. The friend beset by doubts finds simple ways to serve.

“Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord” (D&C 98:3).

A cynic may scoff, “Your pain, your afflictions, your suffering work for your good and His glory? Life is only a senseless tangle of anguish with merciful periods of numbness.” So it may seem.

Yet the universe is packed with irony. The keenest may be that God has so structured the universe that believing and disbelieving are equally viable. Only a very brave God would do such a thing. But He has woven assurances of His redemptiveness into the fabric of the universe. Only a compassionate God would do such a thing. When we put on the mantle of faith, a quiet confidence distills upon us.

Many Nephites found that as they grew in their humility and faith, their souls were filled with joy and consolation (Helaman 3:35). On top of present comfort, God offers eternal blessing to those who look beyond the immediate pain.

“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

Our national tragedies can unite us in faith. Our family struggles can join us in love. Our personal disappointments can refine our purposes and strengthen our faith. Perhaps the surest sign of faith in a believer is that tragedy evokes submission and praise.

Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of thee; Thou only knowest what I need; Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. O Father! give to Thy child that which he himself knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either for crosses or consolations: I simply present myself before Thee, I open my heart to Thee. . . . Smite, or heal; depress me, or raise me up: I adore all thy purposes without knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will. Teach me to pray. Pray Thyself in me. Amen. (François de la Mothe Fenelon, quoted in Fosdick, Meaning of Prayer, pp. 58–59).

Adversity is a sacred trust. It is the raw material for making gold. When we put our earthly experiences on the altar of faith, He transforms them into glory.

“He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him” (2 Nephi 26:24).

Armed with faith we see the blessing in adversity.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Charmaine June 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    This reminds me of a scripture I like because it gives a progressive list of the blessings when we “glory in tribulation.”

    Romans 5:3-5 – “…but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And Patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

    Perhaps this is the gospel process in a nutshell.

  • Reply admin July 6, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Beautifully said, Charmaine. It is great to know that God can consecrate every affliction to our gain!

    -Wally

  • Reply Cheri July 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    This email and topic has come in a most timely manner. I have spent the last 2 months of intensive counseling as I was feeling great despair. Which started at the loss of my favorite dog. My great companion, he was injured and developed an infection, even with all the Vet could do to save him, it was time to put him to sleep or let him die a very painful death.

    This brought back feelings of the loss of my 15 1/2 year old son 6 years ago. When I told my Med DR. I’ve been wanting to call him several times before our next appt. He got me in ASAP with a Counselor I knew.

    Since the Med Dr. has been seeing me since my son’s death, he knows how I’ve been healing. So when I said that to him, he could tell by my countenance I was not doing well. So I was scheduled to see the Counselor for the next 2 days that week.

    The counselor is LDS and was a great help as he started me weeping again. I guess I had some unfinished business of grieving and fortunately I had the 8 sessions free through my insurance plan.

    He brought in my husband later, and we did a refresher course on what we had learned from this man 20 odd years ago on marriage and family counseling.

    Fortunately, this wonderful man, had to leave for a mission in Brazil to help the missionaries there, etc. I was weeping during our last day and he would ask why I was, and I couldn’t name it, then it came out that I was going to miss him very much.

    I never can understand if this is clinical depression or just something hitting me. All I know is the DR got me to open up my feelings that I’ve been holding back. And so now I can’t stop weeping.

    My appt with my Med Dr. was delayed yesterday, and I was asked by the receptionist who knows me well, how I was doing. I told her that I can’t stop weeping, and she blamed it on my counselor leaving. We laughed and made a new appt. with my Med Dr. as I think it could be my meds. I can’t tell anymore.

    I have been working on positive feelings and thoughts for the future, including a vacation since DH and I haven’t had one for 10 years together. One that includes scuba diving and other fun stuff at a perfect resort with everything you could want for scuba diving, rest, entertainment.

    I was concerned about the money. We are not staying at a 4 star hotel, but bungalows, with minimal ammenities. Phones, internet and tv are all in the rec. center. I was sure DH wouldn’t want to go due to lack of TV, internet and phone system in the room.

    But he said, “Isn’t that what vacations are for, is to get away from that stuff.” Anyway, we got the news of a windfall or a very high line of credit through our business accounts. So money is available to pay off high percent business credit cards. Build a big shop on our now commercial property and the percentage rate is at 5.0% interest.

    This will relieve a lot of stress. This commercial property use to be my son’s first home. During the last 1 1/2 years we have been taking care of my brother suffering from Leukemia and his family by living in this home rent free. He is cured of the Leukemia thanks to LDS hospital in SLC. But now has crumbling hip bones due to side affects of treatment.

    I guess I’m saying is that the Lord does bless us in His own timing and your posting of scriptures from D&C and the Bible are so comforting. Thank you for writing this and I’m sorry about all the miscarriages your wife has had. Those are very discouraging events. Must have been so hard for your wife as it was for you. But I think the woman carries more of the heartache and physical effects on her body.

    • Reply admin October 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      Sounds like God is looking after you.

      Blessings!
      Wally

  • Reply Claudia July 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Dear Wally — Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I think expressing gratitude amidst difficulties – and especially the ongoing trials from which there seems very little relief in this life – is a valuable yet very difficult habit to cultivate. I would love to hear more about how you began to go about expressing gratitude when the process was still new and perhaps the benefits were not immediately apparent. How did you start? What feelings did you have to deal with? How did you keep going when it seemed tough? I imagine that God’s purposes were slowly opened to you and that this mindset did not develop overnight.

    After reading your post, I am wondering if expressing gratitude, even in trials, does not put in motion heavenly laws and blessings that we could not enjoy otherwise. Just as exercising can give us physical strength and capabilities we would not have if we just sat on the couch all day — capabilities which greatly bless our lives on many levels — perhaps expressing gratitude opens up spiritual blessings, insights, etc … that before we do it we can not even imagine. I think we often deny ourselves of blessings that Heavenly Father has made readily available to us, but we, for whatever reasons, are comfortable where we are. The kind of fundamental change the Lord is advocating is not always easy.

    I would like to hear more about how the natural reactions we have, such as disappointment and frustration, fit in with expressing gratitude and this whole process of seeing God’s purposes. I don’t think Heavenly Father expects us to deny those feelings. Indeed, I think acknowledging those feelings is part of the teaching process. (Ah, an idea for your next book?) Warmly, Claudia

    • Reply admin October 5, 2009 at 4:52 pm

      Claudia,
      I think that life can have a perfect balance of challenges and relief or refreshing. During the challenges, we learn to trust God more. During the relief, we can learn to be grateful for all our blessings. God perfectly orchestrates it all.

      Of course Satan wants us to feel weary and cheated during challenges and anxious or worried during relief.

      I love how you described the power of gratitude–that it puts in motion heavenly law and power. All things work together for our good when we love God–and trust Him in good times and bad.

      Blessings,
      Wally

  • Reply Cheri October 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Hi Wally,
    Since my last posting, some things have changed in my life, that has caused much disappointment. Never finalized the scuba diving trip, it seemed that I was stressed over the decision, but yet kept pursuing it by visualization techniques, figuring out just how to pay for it.

    But information surfaced that amenities of the package wasn’t all clear to me until more study and finding out that I would need to pay for more rental diving gear or purchase my own before the trip.

    After weighing the pros and cons, it was no longer worth stressing over something that would bring a week’s worth of fun and relaxation, to months of financial concern.

    When I let go of this dream for the time being, as there are vacation deals happening every month, I felt peace and more prepared for future surprises that required more of my mindfulness and prayers that couldn’t be distracted by planning a vacation in a foreign country and unknown financial costs and possible risks to health and body.

    These surprises have caused me to draw upon the powers of Heaven more than ever before, and exercise more faith in Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ to carry these burdens that I cannot bear all on my own. I have received comfort and a knowledge that I am not alone and reassurance that the Lord is aware of my suffering and is working along with me to lift my burdens and the burdens of others.

    And yes, Satan is working very hard to keep me down, weary, cheated, anxious and worried during relief. As my influence can have powerful results that would thwart his plan in destroying the future work of the Lord.

    So I pray, calling all Angels to help
    fortify me and my family from his evil grasps. They have come bringing comfort when most needed and I can see the “motions of heavenly law and power” “working together” for our good.

    Your reminder email has come at a timely manner. Thank you very much.

    Cheri

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