Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Nature of a Trial: Some Thoughts from IQD

I'm still trudging my way through In Quiet Desperation.  I'm in the middle of Ty Mansfield's section and it's proving to be even more insightful than the first section was.  I think that Part I brought the emotional rain; I sobbed through pretty much the entire thing.  Part II is still very emotional, but it's also got a lot of pretty interesting insight.  In the chapter entitled, "That I May Prove Them," Ty brings up a few interesting points.

He quotes Professor Larry Dahl in saying, "We can lose our focus and our progress if we constantly examine every bump in the road to determine whose fault it is" (97).  Dahl is explaining that sometimes, struggles come from the Lord and sometimes they come from the natural consequences of living in a world where agency exists.  Either way, the Lord has the power to remove trials, even if they're caused by our choices or the choices of others.  And yet, he allows those trials to happen, for whatever reason, and it can be detrimental for us to always be questioning the reasoning and motives behind our struggles.

Another interesting thought Ty shares is that no struggle is more or less preferable to another.  Those who deal with alcoholism or drug addiction and those who suffer from poor body image and those who have to face powerful heterosexual urges each have a difficult road ahead.  "It has been difficult for me--as one who experiences same-gender attraction, a challenge that often seems impossible to bear and remain faithful--to recognize that my cross is not more unbearable than those that others might be called to carry" (107).

I once heard a general authority say that same-gender attraction is the most difficult trial man could face, but now I'm not sure I believe it's true.  I know plenty of people who have faced difficult trials: losing a child, suffering from sexual abuse, maintaining faith even through the destruction of a family, etc.  The people I am thinking of right now are facing their trials the best that they can and I can't say that I'd ever switch places with them.  The Lord knew that those people could handle their crosses and so gave those trials to them, instead of me.  Even those who are grounded and rooted in the Gospel have spiritual trials I'll never understand.

My mother, for example, has never had a problem with faith.  She freely admits that belief is something she was given by the Spirit.  She has never been tempted to disobey the law of chastity, the word of wisdom, or to break the Sabbath.  It's just not something she struggles with.  Instead, she was given four disobedient children and asked to figure out what she could do to help them come back.  I can't imagine a harder trial for a dutiful and righteous woman such as my mother than to have to usher sometimes-unwilling children back into the fold.

Ty continues:  "When we view challenges from an eternal perspective, however, we realize there is more equality in the trials than we would sometimes like to admit" (108).  Each of us is tested, and no matter the nature of the challenge, the trick is to find that eternal perspective and seek to turn over our sins to the Lord.  Whether those sins be bitterness, inappropriate sexual conduct, gluttony, or a lack of faith, we are asked to turn them over and are then guaranteed eternal life.

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