I have so many wonderful talks I've listened to online and on CD that I'll never get to share all of them with you and it's always hard to know which one to choose next since I don't get time to blog much anymore. Today I'll share one that I listened to last week since it's the one I've been thinking about. It's called Why We Sometimes Suffer: Some Scriptural Examples to Help Us through Trying Times by Thomas A. Wayment, a professor at BYU who is the author and co-author of several books. (Click on his name to see a list of them.) The talk is from BYU Education Week in 2009. Unfortunately, there is no transcript of the talk available so I had to type quotes the best I could as I was listening to it several times, so my quotes might not be quite exact. Go listen to the whole thing becuase it's great.
Brother Wayment talks about how we sometimes don’t view trials as coming from our Heavenly Father. Rather we might see them as Satan trying to thwart our progression or ruin our plans.
“I have always been disturbed by the fact that so much of our progress might be placed in the hands of an evil being. Meaning that if all difficulty in my life is really the result of some Satanic force then literally, he is helping me progress and I don’t like that.”
I know that in my life I have a tendency to see trials and categorize them. Some of my trials have come because of how others have decided to use their agency and I have thought that it did not come from Heavenly Father so it “messed things up” and it wasn’t what Heavenly Father wanted for me. But I know that our Heavenly Father has ultimate control and power and can see the end from the beginning. If we let him guide us, we can end up right where he wants us, no matter what obstacles are thrown in our way. “…We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” So it doesn’t matter if the trial is sent from Heavenly Father, the result of someone’s negligence or use of agency or why the things happened to us, Heavenly Father can always use them to help us progress if we let him and if we work for it.
In Mark 10, we read about the rich young man who came to talk to Jesus to find out what he else needed to do to get into heaven. He told Jesus that he kept all the commandments since he was a small boy, showing that he was a righteous person and it appears he really did have a desire to do what was right and to return to live with our Heavenly Father. But when Jesus tells him to sell everything and give it to the poor and follow him, he is sad because it is the one thing that is too difficult for him to do.
Brother Wayment talks about how each of us if we are serious about our discipleship will be asked to give up some customized sin or weakness. He even talks about Elder Neal A. Maxwell talking about this, like I just quoted in a recent post. We don’t know if this young man left and realized that he should listen to our Savior and repented of his unwillingness, being forever grateful for that decision and all of the blessings he received because of them. Or he may never have done what the Lord asked of him, wondering forever what if he had been obedient. What will each of us do when our Father asks us to be obedient in our personally customized commandment, the one thing we lack most?
Jesus told the disciples that it “is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the
”. We know that it isn’t because money is bad, but that those who love money more than God will have a hard time being a true follower of Christ. However, any weakness we have can keep us from going through that needle if we let it keep us from the Spirit and from becoming what Heavenly Father is trying to help us to become. Brother Wayment’s discussion on this is very interesting. kingdom of God
Here’s my mostly correct transcription of this part of his talk, where he is talking about how only Heavenly Father can make a camel, and us, fit through the eye of a needle.
“If you ever get it through somehow, it’s gonna look different, isn’t it? When you get through the eye of the needle, you are going to look different. You’ll be different. You’ll have to change your shape. You’ll have to change who you are. I think the Lord is shaping up and has us in his hands.”
It doesn’t sound like it will be a comfortable experience to be squished and pushed and pulled through that eye, but, like he says, we will have been changed and we will be different. Different in a wonderful way that we cannot expect if we do not go through trials that help mold us and stretch us. Different in a way we cannot now imagine.