Stepping into the Darkness

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness, then the light will appear and show you the way before you."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Joy in Our Afflictions

In my reading this morning, I came across a reference in James chapter 1. We are often quoting from this chapter, but we normally start with verse 5 that Joseph Smith has made so well known. This reference is to verses 2 thru 4. I have included the change (italicized) that Joseph Smith made in his translation. It reads:
“2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions;
 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I can attest to the truth of this in my life. While serving a mission in Australia many years ago, I struggled with health problems. About 7 months into my mission, I got sick with an upper respiratory infection. I struggled to work with it, but it only got worse. At one point my companion looked at me and said, “You don’t look well. Let’s get you to a doctor”. That visit with the doctor resulted in my being put to bed for three weeks.

I struggled with that. In the mission at that time, there was a prevalent attitude that if you are sick, you are not exercising enough faith, so I pushed through the illness rather than taking care of it. Being put to bed by the doctor only added to the emotional burden. The thing that started to change my perspective was that with all that time with nothing to do, I read. I read the scriptures, I read Jesus the Christ, the Articles of Faith, and other church works. I felt, and was fed by the spirit. I was comforted in my afflictions.  I was reminded that when we engage in sinful practices, we cannot feel the spirit. I felt the Spirit and decided mine was not a lack of faith. Maybe the attitude so many of my fellows had was wrong because it denied the will of the Lord.

During the course of my mission in Australia I was sick in bed a total of six or seven weeks. Later in life in Arizona I struggled with recurring pneumonia and that resulting in a great blessing of being able to move to Alaska. Yea, I know that sounds strange, but Alaska was a blessing. That blessing included a car accident just a year and a half after arriving. That accident had me off work for nineteen months, and learning to live with a lifetime of pain. It created additional metabolic malfunctions in my body and the attending health issues. It resulted in back surgery and hobbling around as a cripple. Through it all I learned patience. I worked for years with the problems. I was blessed financially. I was able to change work, and that change allowed me to retire at sixty. Those changes gave me the financial means to serve a mission at sixty instead of later in life. During all those years I was able to serve in the church.  Six years in three different Bishoprics, five years as a High Priest Group Leader, seven years on the High Council of the Stake. The scripture in D&C 122:7 took on new meaning.  

“…know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

I learned that very few outcomes are under my control. I have control of me. I can do only the things I can do. Those things I must do. Many of them come by way of either obedience or prompting from the Spirit. In that, I am reliant on the Lord. I do the things He asks of me, and the outcomes are according to His will. I wait on the Lord and His time. Life goes much smoother that way. I have fewer disappointments. By listening to the Spirit, I also am often privileged to see His hand doing His work. He is much better at it than I am.

By doing this, I have noticed my afflictions seem to dissipate. I notice them less, and the miracles of God’s work expand. I would recommend this to all for we all suffer in our afflictions.  Remember 2 Nephi 2:25:

“Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.”

My life is full of joy as I serve Him in whatever capacity He asks.

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