Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dallin H. Oaks on the role of opposition in our lives

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"The purpose of mortal life for the children of God is to provide the experiences needed 'to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.' ('The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129.) As President Thomas S. Monson taught us so powerfully this morning, we progress by making choices, by which we are tested to show that we will keep God’s commandments (see Abraham 3:25). To be tested, we must have the agency to choose between alternatives. To provide alternatives on which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition....
"All of us experience various kinds of opposition that test us. Some of these tests are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges apart from personal sin. Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous, and some are mere episodes. None of us is exempt. Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become....
"God rarely infringes on the agency of any of His children by intervening against some for the relief of others. But He does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them, as He did for Alma’s people in the land of Helam (see Mosiah 24:13–15). He does not prevent all disasters, but He does answer our prayers to turn them aside, as He did with the uniquely powerful cyclone that threatened to prevent the dedication of the temple in Fiji; or He does blunt their effects, as He did with the terrorist bombing that took so many lives in the Brussels airport but only injured our four missionaries.
"Through all mortal opposition, we have God’s assurance that He will 'consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain' (2 Nephi 2:2)."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Opposition in all Things," General Conference, April 2016, Sunday afternoon
Click here to read the full talk

It's hard at times for us to remember the eternal perspective when we're faced with opposition in one of its various forms, as identified by Elder Oaks. We struggle to endure, we see others who are not faced with the same challenges, we question God's justice, we doubt our own ability or worthiness; in many ways for tend to forget that the very "purpose of mortal life" requires that God provide the kind of experience that will help us grow and progress to become more like Him and worthy of His greatest blessings.

We also forget that all of us experience these things, at different times and in different ways. It's as if our challenges in life are custom-made for each of us; but so are the promises of assistance and strength.

It's fascinating to ponder the thought Elder Oaks presents regarding our prayers for relief from opposition: "God rarely infringes on the agency of any of His children by intervening against some for the relief of others." That should affect what we pray for if we understand and remember the principle. But the next principle is also a crucial one in that light: "But He does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them," We must learn to be grateful for opposition, and for God's willingness to help us through every challenge.

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