The Book of Mormon contains some great counsel given by Lehi to his son Jacob. Speaking of some trials he had faced in his earlier years, his father reminded him of the greatness of God, then commented, “and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain” (2Ne. 2:2). We likewise can experience greater growth and abundant blessings during times of difficulty and challenge. This pertains to each of us as missionaries and throughout our lives.
A wonderful illustration of this point is found in the following story related by Elder D. Todd Christofferson:
Some time before I was called as a General Authority, I faced a personal economic challenge that persisted for several years. It did not come about as a consequence of anyone’s wrongdoing or ill will; it was just one of those things that sometimes come into our lives. It ebbed and flowed in seriousness and urgency, but it never went away completely. At times this challenge threatened the welfare of my family and me, and I thought we might be facing financial ruin. I prayed for some miraculous intervention to deliver us. Although I offered that prayer many times with great sincerity and earnest desire, the answer in the end was “No.” Finally I learned to pray as the Savior did: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). I sought the Lord’s help with each tiny step along the way to a final resolution.
There were times when I had exhausted all my resources, when I had nowhere or no one to turn to at that moment, when there was simply no other human being I could call on to help meet the exigency before me. With no other recourse, more than once I fell down before my Heavenly Father begging in tears for His help. And He did help. Sometimes it was nothing more than a sense of peace, a feeling of assurance that things would work out. I might not see how or what the path would be, but He gave me to know that, directly or indirectly, He would open a way. Circumstances might change, a new and helpful idea might come to mind, some unanticipated income or other resource might appear at just the right time. Somehow there was a resolution.
Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve… I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.
I hope you will look at your challenges through eyes of faith and that you will trust in the Lord to help and comfort you. Seek answers and solutions, but do not get frustrated if they do not come immediately.
Here are excerpts from some of my favorite emails last week:
“I've been reading in Mosiah this week, about the people of King Limhi and Alma the Older. Something that stuck out to me was that when the people of Alma were going through all their trials, the Lord strengthened the people in their trials instead of immediately delivering them. It just made me think about that when I have trials in my mission, it’s because the lord wants me to grow, and he will help me overcome it instead of taking it away. It gave me a new view on my trials.”
“This week has been going well, but there have been a few disappointments along the way. We've been contacting a lot and meeting with our investigators, but unfortunately some of our new investigators aren't willing to meet with us anymore. Despite disappointments, I don't find myself discouraged or disheartened because we really did everything we could to help them along. I think one aspect I've really been developing is finding joy and encouragement in hard work, even if the fruits of such labors aren't always so immediately apparent.”
“Also this week for my Birthday wish, I told [my companion] I literally wanted to stop and talk to EVERYONE on the side of the road that day! It was incredible, I met so many new people, and although none really had intent to meet with us I felt really happy and satisfied knowing I had invited all of them! It was the best!”
Elders and Sisters, I am so grateful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity to labor alongside Him this last time in His vineyard. Missionary service is not easy and often highlights our own weaknesses and shortcomings. But I would not trade this experience for anything. I am grateful for each of you, for serving faithfully and diligently. I know that the Lord loves you and is pleased with what you are doing.
Mentor of Champions