Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trials: From Barrenness to Impending Death... interesting insights

This past week I have been blessed to have a friend and a family member email me things pertaining to trials (hopefully because they were impressed with the quote and not because I've been complaining!!!) and I wanted to share them on my blog.

The first is from the book "Women of the Old Testament" by --Camille Fronk Olson. This book is on my reading list, but I haven't started it yet. Recently in Sunday School we read about Joseph (the one with the coat of many colors!) and talked about how his experiences had prepared him and enabled him to make righteous choices in his life. The author takes it one step further by talking about one of the women who probably helped mold Joseph - RACHEL - and the trials she faced!

"Like Ra
chel, we may see trials as punishments from God rather than as divine gifts to strengthen and polish us. Although difficult circumstances differ significantly from one person to another, such as those faced by Rachel and Leah, challenges are one of the humbling conditions of mortality that include persuasive invitations to draw closer to God. Rachel had an ideal marriage but no children. Leah had a difficult marriage but a great family. Both situations posed a temptation for the women at times to feel worthless and forgotten by God or at other times to feel superior and more chosen by God. Each situation, however became the vital soil from which the sisters developed unshakable testimonies of God and divine strength to nurture the future leaders of the House of Israel.

In many ways, barrenness is symbolic of any unrealized righteous desire or unforeseen difficulty that strikes everyone sooner or later. When such blessings as marriage, health, education, a home or believing family members elude us, we may better relate to the wives of the patriarchs during their trial of barrenness. The irony presents itself when one receives God's promise of the desired blessing but current circumstances deny any foreseeable manner that the blessing could be realized. But "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (JST
Hebrews 11:1). When no evidence exits to show how the promised blessing will be realized, a person of faith acts with certitude as though the blessing had already occurred. Having "an eye of faith" (Alma 32:40), we can see God's promises "afar off" (Hebrews 11:13) and live today with the confidence and assurance that God's plan for us will be better than our greatest dreams. In the imagery of barrenness, each of us is unfruitful without Jesus Christ. It is by His grace we are saved, no matter how great our works may appear to be. After listing Christlike attributes that make up our divine nature, the apostle Peter wrote, "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:8)

I can totally relate to this quote. Many times, I look at my trials and am "woe, is me" and I look at someone else and I think they're just skating by in life :) Little do I know though what they are really facing, or what's a trial for me is nothing for them, etc. I need to remind myself that our trials are tailored to us, personally, in order to strengthen us and bring us closer to the Lord.

I REALLY related to the 2nd paragraph when she talked about our own personal "barrenness". I have this in my life, and I am sure many others do as well. I can not deny that I have received God's promise of the desired blessing but, ha, in my limited vision the fulfillment of this promise would be a miracle. But, then, I need to question. Have miracles ceased? No, I believe they haven't and I do see little "miracles" and "tender mercies" in my life every day... but it's hard to always maintain the optimism through faith that this BIG PERSONAL MIRACLE would
ever, EVER,
happen! That is where my faith comes in. FAITH - I love how she said it's acting "with certitude as though the blessing had already occurred...and live today with the confidence and assurance that God's plan for us will be better than our greatest dreams"!!!!!

I need to wake up every day and read this quote... sometimes re-reading it throughout the day will be what gets me through. Maybe I need a little bug in my ear repeating it all day long :)

The next email that was thought provoking was sent in regards to a very well respected and intelligent law professor who, as my friend eloquently put it, "articulates Christianity with an elegance I, in my very limited reading, have found in very few other places; and is as insightful in facing his own immanent death as I could imagine someone being." This professor is in the late stages of terminal cancer.

I am going to just attach the link to the interview recently given entitled "You will Call, I will Answer." In it he expresses his views on trials, pain, suffering and his impending death.

Then, an even more inspiring post was written by him on his blog about in answering the question he's "supposed" to be asking as to why all this is happening, and why it’s happening to him. As I do all the time. WHY ME? WHY NOW? What did I do or not do to deserve this? I love his insights and how he articulates his beliefs in his post "Less Than the Least." It helps me put my trials in perspective and gives me more to think about as I endure them.

And, not just endure them... but endure them WELL. James 5:10-11 talks about prophets who have suffered affliction and how they're "happy" when they endured. But, I think it's more than feeling happy at the end. It's happiness WHILE enduring. Something I know intellectually, but as with this whole post, need to put into practice in every day life.

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