I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “God will never give you anything you can’t handle”. Well to me this phrase just isn’t complete because as you’ve probably noticed, a lot of trials are not given to us by God. Some come as a result of our own decisions, some are the result of others’ decisions, and some are just part of life. And you will definitely have challenges that you will not feel strong enough to get through—on your own. You’ll see a lot of people in this world trying to handle broken hearts, death of loved ones, illness, addiction, questions of faith, and so many other trials on their own. Quite often, it is more than they can handle. And sometimes they may feel like more than you can handle because you will experience these same trials. Probably most of them. There is one key ingredient that makes all the difference in both the process and the outcome—Christ.
During this past month, my mom, my sister, and I have all been dealing with really tough and unrelated trials that have involved mental illness, broken relationships, and severe disappointments. As I was getting ready to write about this next lie, I realized that each one of us, in a personal moment of heartbreak, has said to the others, “I am not strong enough”.
Sometimes trials like these are exactly what we need to remind us that we can’t deal with life alone. I recently heard a young mom sharing about the challenges and chaos that come from having several small children. Although I’m not a mom yet, I still needed to hear the answer she received when she asked the Lord why life has to be so hard. “If it wasn’t hard, you wouldn’t come to me.”
The most Christ-like people I’ve met have been through hard things—really hard things—and I think a lot of the reason they’ve become who they are is because, through trials, we not only learn how much we desperately need the Savior but as we grow closer to Him, we also become more like Him. I love this thought shared by Neal A. Maxwell. “One’s life cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorry, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!” We need to go through deep, heart-wrenching challenges so that we can develop some of the wisdom, love, and understanding necessary for our progression.
All we have to do is look in the scriptures to be reminded that once we are committed to following Christ, life almost seems to get harder. Then look at the lives of the early saints of the church. And even the lives of the latter-day saints. But guess what, life will be hard anyway. So why not go through it with Him. Because if we go through it with Him, He will teach us what we can learn from the heartaches of life. We come to know the Savior very personally through hard things, and as we do, we learn to trust that even if our prayers are not answered in the ways we were hoping, He is still good.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul talks about a “thorn in the flesh” that was given to him to keep him humble. Whatever this thorn was, it was extremely difficult for him, and Paul asked the Lord three times to take his trial away. Have you ever prayed for the pain to be taken away? The Lord listened to Paul, as He will always listen to you, but instead of removing Paul’s thorn, the Lord reminded him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Because of Paul’s pain and weaknesses, he would need to rely more on the Lord’s strength, and the Lord is always ready and able to help us as we turn to Him. And Paul’s response once he understood this? “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me….for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 7-10).
To be honest, I don’t think I’m to the point yet that I can “take pleasure” in my trials. But like Paul, we too can be amazed by the strength that the Lord helps us to develop through our challenges. We are asked, not to have faith in the blessings or in a life free of trials, but in the Giver of the blessings who will help us grow stronger through the trials. He can make weak things, like you and me, become strong. You can get through this, with His help. You can be strong, with His help. And although you may not feel that way now, if we keep trusting Him and living the way He has asked us to, there will be a time that you will be able to look back on this trial, this one you are going through right now, and see how it has worked together with all of the other things you’ve been through, for your good.
Things That Help:
Talk About It
Even if you are a shy, private person, nothing good comes from letting pain and questions fester inside of us. Talking about things with a friend or two who you feel know and love you will not only help you to feel supported in your trials but will also help you to unpack and sort out all of the emotions involved with any specific challenge. But I’m not saying to share everything with everyone. There is a time and place when healing comes through seeking help from others, and that usually happens during conversations between two or three people when the Spirit is also present.
And don’t forget about the power of honest prayer. I’m talking the kind that’s almost uncomfortable because of how honest and vulnerable you’re being, especially when it feels like you are just talking to yourself. But He is listening, and He does answer when you are ready to listen back. Vulnerable communication always strengthens relationships, and the same is true of our relationship with Heavenly Father. And I know that many of us will go through times that we feel too angry, or hurt, or confused to pray. But pray anyways. And express all of those feelings. These may end up being some of the most special experiences of your life.
Get a Priesthood Blessing
There is a certain kind of strength that comes from hearing exactly what the Lord wants to tell you, especially if you are having a hard time recognizing promptings on your own. And sometimes it takes just being reminded of what we already know to readjust our perspective. This happened a couple of weeks ago for me when I asked my brother for a blessing and was told to “remember what you already know about the Lord’s timing. There are reasons for the timing of how specific things have played out. These reasons involve things that the Lord has wanted you to learn. And though it seems like you have not been able to work through them in the way you have wanted to, you have been able to learn the things that He has wanted you to learn and worked through these things the way that He has intended”.
Take a Step Back…
And look at everything from an eternal perspective. Look at the trials you’ve already been through. What have you learned from them? What new opportunities have come from them? What qualities have you developed because of them? As Brigham Young said, “Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation”. Absolutely necessary.
Girl, you’ve got this!
Abbey is currently a senior studying Creative Writing at Utah Valley University. She served a mission in Sydney, Australia and loves traveling when she can. She has five younger sisters and is so grateful for all of the women and girls who have shown her what it means to blossom.