Friday, April 11, 2014

God Expects Us To Do Hard Things

Raising a child with special needs is hard. Finding the mental capacity to write when I’m burned out is hard. Living in a world full of heartbreaking acts and evil is hard. Standing up for myself is hard. Something I’m learning, though, is that God expects his children to do hard things.

Here’s what Elder Holland had to say about it in general conference: “It is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.”*

A God who expects a lot of us is not a comfortable God. Instead, it’s One who is refining his children. One who knows we can do more than we believe we are capable of. Even when it’s painful. Even when it seems impossible.

In 1831, Edward Partridge was called to teach and preach to the rough, uncouth residents of Independence, Missouri and prepare a place for the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to come. He expected to have great success there, misinterpreting Joseph’s optimism for prophesy. When things didn’t go easy and the way wasn’t as smooth as he had expected, Partridge grew disillusioned for a time. After being chastised in a revelation, he wrote to his wife in a letter: “As I am occasionally chastened I sometimes fear my station is above what I can perform to the acceptance of my Heavenly Father.”**

When I read this, it completely resonated with me. I also sometimes fear my station is above what I can perform. Sometimes we go into tasks, believing that because we’ve been commanded to fulfill certain duties or obligations, that things will be easy for us. We want to believe that Heavenly Father will make our paths smooth as a reward for doing as He has asked of us.

This, as many of you know, is not always the case. We are often asked to do the impossible. The question we need ask ourselves is: Will we remain faithful in the difficult times as well as the easy? Or, more importantly, can we remain faithful when things don’t go as we expect?

Edward Partridge remained faithful. He put his faith in God when things didn’t go as he expected, through disappointment, through being tarred and feathered because of his beliefs, through being kicked out of his home, imprisonment, losing most of what he owned, and eventually his death in Nauvoo (1840) from an illness contracted during the persecutions in Missouri. He had learned that God expected him to do hard things. He was a good man, a faithful man, who gave his life for the gospel.

Most of us won’t go through the same sort of physical trials as Partridge.

We may not be asked to forsake “all [our] gold, and silver, and precious things,” like Amulek, who “for the word of God [was] rejected by his father and his kindred.” This after being imprisoned, bound, humiliated, beaten, and forced to watch believers die. ***

But some of us will be required to forgive the unforgivable. To be kind to those who have been unkind. To continue to live and breathe when someone we love has ceased to do so. To repent and avoid sin when it's all around us, everywhere. To accept His will even when it does not align with our own.

Discipleship has never been easy. Life has never been easy.

So, yes. God expects us to do hard things.

He believes in us. He knows our potential better than we can imagine. Not only that, He knows how much more we can grow when we do hard things. This is why, even when things are hard, even when things aren't going the way we expect, we must press forward with faith.

Always remember, even though life is hard, God has promised to share our yoke and make our burdens light. He gives countless tender mercies to His children. He loves us with a pure kind of love that is hard to understand sometimes. And He's promised us that although things can be impossible for us to do or get through alone, nothing is impossible with God.


* Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—And Blessing—of Discipleship” April 2014 GC
**Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman, p162-163

1 comment:

  1. I read this when you first wrote it, and I LOVE this post. LOVE it.

    ReplyDelete