Thursday, June 7, 2018

Elder Robert D. Hales on being strengthened through suffering

Elder Robert D. Hales (August 24, 1932-October 1, 2017) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"Suffering to develop strength will not exceed our ability to endure to the end.
"When Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, he cried to the Lord for comfort, and the Lord gave it to him. He said that 'if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.' (D&C 122:7.)
"Such trials give us the development of spirituality that we probably never would get if we didn’t have the experience where the very jaws of hell gape open their mouth wide after us. Not only must we survive, but we must develop the ability to have a concern for others while we are suffering. It is a key element in our spiritual growth. As we lose our lives in the service of our fellowmen, we find ourselves....
"After a number of mistakes and failures to live as we know we should, we may lose confidence in ourselves and have a poor self-image of who we are and what we are capable of becoming. We may forget that we are children of God and have the potential of dwelling with him and his Son if we accept the Atonement and keep the commandments.
"The first of the commandments we must keep is to have faith. First, we must gain faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith that he lives. Faith that he hears and answers prayers. Faith that he will forgive us of our transgressions. Faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ."
- Robert D. Hales, "Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy," General Conference October 1983
Click here to read or listen to the full talk
While we know there are limits to the suffering we will be asked to support in this life, we do know that we each will have that opportunity in one way or another. Elder Hales shares an eternal perspective on dealing with trials, knowing that there is purpose in their placement in our lives, and ultimately, if we allow, they will work for our good. The key understanding is that spiritual development follows challenges in ways that can't be accomplished otherwise; and as we focus appropriately on serving others and not dwelling on our own difficulties, that development increases.

Yet we are not perfect in our response to life, and we all experience the added challenge of "mistakes and failures to live as we know we should." This can bring a decline in self-concept and confidence. Elder Hales encourages us to remember our eternal, divine potential in all things; through obedience and faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the strength and blessings will come.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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