Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Elder Richard G. Scott on help in the challenges of life

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.
"Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.
"When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?
"Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, 'Please let me know Thy will' and 'May Thy will be done,' you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father."
- Ruchard G. Scott, "Trust in the Lord," General Conference, October 1995
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Scott spoke on a number of occasions about the trials and challenges that confront us in life. Sometimes those difficulties come as a result of our own bad choices and disobedience; but in this excerpt he discusses another reason: a loving Father may be recognizing a need for us to grow and change, and providing a process to do that:

It's interesting to note that the kind of change that will "stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion" and bring about real change in our character and in our life often "requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain." Some growth comes slowly, gradually, almost imperceptibly; but the kind of progress Elder Scott is discussing requires more dramatic and painful transition to achieve.

So how do we respond when the "challenges... come in multiple doses applied simultaneously"? I loved the two alternative approaches Elder Scott identifies, based on the kinds of questions we ask about our experiences. Are we questioning and doubting, or are we trusting with faith that God is in charge? Learning to truly trust Him in every way, at all times, is a key to peace and confidence even in the midst of challenges. We must learn to offer "willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God," knowing that He is aware of us and leading us to a better position.

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

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