Friday, July 28, 2017

Elder Richard G. Scott on confronting life's challenges with faith and hope

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He passed away in September 2015 at the age of 86.
"Mortal life is a proving ground. God said, 'We will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

"'And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.' (see Abr. 3:24–26.)
"Our proving grounds vary. Some of us are born with physical limitations; others are lonely or do not enjoy good health. Some are challenged by economic conditions, the lack of good parental example, or a myriad of other things that test our mettle. While much of the pain and sorrow we endure is the result of our own stubborn acts of disobedience, many of the things that appear to be obstacles in our path are used by a loving Creator for our own personal growth.
"Life never was intended to be easy. Rather, it is a period of proving and growth. It is interwoven with difficulties, challenges, and burdens. We are immersed in a sea of persistent, worldly pressures that could destroy our happiness. Yet these very forces, if squarely faced, provide opportunity for tremendous personal growth and development. The conquering of adversity produces strength of character, forges self-confidence, engenders self-respect, and assures success in righteous endeavor.
"One who exercises free agency by faith grows from challenges, is purified by sorrow, and lives at peace. In contrast, one who frantically seeks to satisfy appetite and worldly desire is driven in a downward spiral to tragic depths. Temptation is the motivating influence in his exercise of free agency."
- Richard G. Scott, "The Plan for Happiness and Exaltation," General Conference, October 1981; see Ensign, November 1981, p. 10
Click here to read or listen to the full article

Elder Scott's message centers on the idea that we should not expect life to be easy. Mortality is a "proving ground" where we are tested by the challenges and experiences of life. Our tests are individual and personalized, and may include many aspects of physical and emotional situations. Elder Scott points out that we often complicate our lives by adding the pain and sorrow that follow disobedience; however, we often face obstacles that were placed in the path "by a loving Creator for our own personal growth."

But the message of hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can confront and survive the challenges, and in God's hands, learn the needed lessons from them and experience the "tremendous growth" they offer:

Elder Scott concludes by contrasting how we choose to use our agency. If we are motivated by temptation and the desire to "satisfy appetite and worldly desire" we can sink to "tragic depths." But we we make our choices motivated by faith, we can be "purified by sorrow" and truly find peace.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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