Saturday, September 16, 2017

President Spencer W. Kimball on God's plan for our destiny

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"God controls our lives, guides and blesses us, but gives us our agency. We may live our lives in accordance with his plan for us or we may foolishly shorten or terminate them.
"I am positive in my mind that the Lord has planned our destiny. Sometime we’ll understand fully, and when we see back from the vantage point of the future, we shall be satisfied with many of the happenings of this life that are so difficult for us to comprehend.
"We sometimes think we would like to know what lies ahead, but sober thought brings us back to accepting life a day at a time and magnifying and glorifying that day....
"We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, ease and pain, comforts and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments, and we knew also that after a period of life we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart, eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be for only a day or a year. Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether we should die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to take life as it came and as we might organize and control it, and this without murmur, complaint, or unreasonable demands.
"In the face of apparent tragedy we must put our trust in God, knowing that despite our limited view his purposes will not fail. With all its troubles life offers us the tremendous privilege to grow in knowledge and wisdom, faith and works, preparing to return and share God’s glory."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "Tragedy or Destiny," in Faith Precedes the Miracle, 102–3, 105–6. Adapted from a BYU devotional address, December 6, 1955
Click here to read the full article
Click here to listen to an audio recording of the original BYU devotional talk
In this wonderful, memorable address, President Kimball considered the classic problem of evil in the world. Why does a loving God allow so much suffering and sorrow to exist? The deeply thoughtful answers President Kimball offers give a powerful perspective on our mortal experience that can bless us as we struggle through times of challenge, disappointment, or pain.

While we do have the ability to exercise our own agency in dealing with the challenges and difficulties of this life, President Kimball urges us to remember that it is in the context of God's eternal plan for our benefit and welfare, the "destiny" that He has in mind for each of us individually. We must be ever willing and eager for His efforts to guide and bless us in the journey, knowing that He has a vision of our potential and what is needed to reach it. We may not fully grasp the details of His plan, with our temporal and limited understanding; but with faith and trust in Him, we can know that we will understand eventually:

The key to President Kimball's message is our need to have faith in God's plan, even when we don't see and understand its details. Once we develop the trust in Him and the hope of His eternal promises for us, we are equipped to confront whatever challenges life presents. Faith rings loudly in President Kimball's declaration "With all its troubles life offers us the tremendous privilege to grow in knowledge and wisdom, faith and works, preparing to return and share God’s glory."

Incidentally, it's wonderful to listen to the recording linked above (at the end of the quote), and hear President Kimball's beautiful, strong voice share the remarks. Within 2 years of giving this address, cancer of the throat would require the removal of most of President Kimball's vocal cords, leaving him with the harsh, gravelly, whispered voice that the Saints would come to love as a sign of his own patient endurance of trials and suffering.

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

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