Sunday, May 16, 2021

President James E. Faust on the trials and blessings of life

President Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley until his death in 2007 at age 87.
"In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner's fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd. 
"Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful. The thorns that prick, that stick in the flesh, that hurt, often change lives which seem robbed of significance and hope. This change comes about through a refining process which often seems cruel and hard. In this way the soul can become like soft clay in the hands of the Master in building lives of faith, usefulness, beauty, and strength. For some, the refiner's fire causes a loss of belief and faith in God, but those with eternal perspective understand that such refining is part of the perfection process. 
"In our extremities, it is possible to become born again, born anew, renewed in heart and spirit. We no longer ride with the flow of the crowd, but instead we enjoy the promise of Isaiah to be renewed in our strength and 'mount up with wings as eagles' (Isa. 40:31)." 
- James E. Faust, "The Refiner's Fire," General Conference April 1979; click here to read the full talk

This is a profoundly beautiful, hopeful message. Each of us feels the challenges of mortality from time to time—the "agonies of life."  But knowing those things truly can "work together for our good" is perhaps the grand key to mortality.

Note the conditional "can"—not "will"—in reference to the impact that our challenges can have. In the depth of life's trials, the wise disciple will allow that refining purging to take place. The things that are "insignificant and unimportant" are brought into sharp relief against the things of eternity. God knows what He is doing.

How crucial it is, in these times of divinely-directed growth, to remember to "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 23, 2015

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