I am a firm believer that every experience we have in life is preparation for an even greater understanding. I served as a caregiver to my biological father in 2014 when he was dying of a rare cancer that was already stage 4 when it was diagnosed. He was also relying on addictive substances to ease his pain. It was not easy caring for him, and I often questioned why I continued attending to him. Despite many difficulties, I knew that I was meant to be involved in the process. He eventually passed away in late October of that same year. Afterward, I wondered why the Lord would prompt me to be involved in such a painful, stressful situation.
Loving Others and Ourselves
I trusted the Spirit and went ahead. As it states in Doctrine and Covenants 41:5, “He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple.” I chose to receive what the Lord had placed in my path and endure it with grace. My understanding of the “why” did not come until a few years ago when I was suddenly facing my own ongoing health challenges. I had to turn to the Lord who could grant that my “burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son” (Alma 33:23). I am not very good at being kind and caring to myself. So, the Lord helped me learn love for myself by giving me the opportunity to show love and compassion to others first.
Part of loving oneself is treating ourselves as a holy “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16). We were made “that [we] might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). One of the keys to experiencing God’s joy is that we “remember the poor, and consecrate…impart of [our] substance unto the poor” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:30-31). We are to gather what is in our possession and use it to bless the lives of others. We are commanded to “live together in love” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:45). We ourselves are part of that holy decree. We are to treat ourselves with nothing but the upmost tenderness and care. If we do not love ourselves, we will not be in a state where we can use the talents and gifts that we have to bless the lives of others.
Patiently Asking for Answers
One of the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening” in the Come, Follow Me lesson for April 19–25, 2021 suggests, “Family members could share how God has revealed truth to them a little at a time.”
The challenge is for us to face our problems step-by-step, patiently recognizing that the Lord “will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12). The Lord will walk with us and carry us even when we have no strength of our own to move forward.
Trials will always be a part of life. Many may never truly understand why things happen the way they do or why certain things have to happen at all. Everything, good or bad, can serve as a learning experience to us and shape us into a more Christlike individual. Christ suffered and His pain was greater than any pain we will ever have to endure (see Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19), but it did not take His desire or ability to love away. He forgave His tormentors (see Luke 23:34). He reached out to the weak and sick and healed them (see Matthew 9:2). Christ still helps us along our journey even if we may think we are in the worst pain possible when enduring our own troubles.
We Can Be Guided by Christ
If Christ can endure the ultimate suffering and still want to love and care for everyone, why can’t we come through our trials wanting to do the same? We are made in the image of our Heavenly Parents (see Moses 2:26-27). If we really want to use our struggles to become better people but don’t know how, we can ask God for help and support. As promised in Doctrine and Covenants 41:3, “By the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to…have all things right before me.” If we believe we can use our pains for good, all we need to do is ask for direction about how to do it. We shall be guided by the hand of the Lord (see Exodus 15:13). It really is that simple.
The promise in Doctrine in Covenants Section 42:61 is clear, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” Perhaps many people are just like I used to be, feeling like I was not good enough to talk to God, so they don’t pray and ask. There is little doubt that many have questions they need answered, but they fear reaching out to God because they wonder if He wants to talk to them. “If thou shalt ask” is an open invitation from God for all to come unto Christ as they are, lay themselves at His tender mercies, and be helped to make the most of who they are.