Friday, July 7, 2017

President Harold B. Lee on the refining process of suffering

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"There is a refining process that comes through suffering, I think, that we can’t experience any other way than by suffering.... We draw closer to Him who gave His life that man might be. We feel a kinship that we have never felt before.... He suffered more than we can ever imagine. But to the extent that we have suffered, somehow it seems to have the effect of drawing us closer to the divine, helps to purify our souls, and helps to purge out the things that are not pleasing in the sight of the Lord."
- Harold B. Lee, address at funeral services for Alfred W. Wesemann, 8 December 1969; see THBL pp. 187-8

We all experience some degree of suffering in life; President Lee is counseling us on how to interpret or react to that suffering. It's important to understand that there is a benefit to the challenges that occur; there is a refining available if we choose to allow it.

This is an interesting approach. As we suffer, we begin to understand a portion of the Savior's suffering, and can draw closer to Him through that process. Our suffering can "purify our souls" as it helps remove the things that are not appropriate or pleasing to God. We become more like Him in small but real ways. So in reality, we should be grateful for those challenges and difficulties as long as we recognize the power they can represent in our lives.

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

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