Why Adversity is Essential and Positive to our Lives

I found this talk that I gave in Sacrament Meeting at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a folder I had in my night table recently. I am not 100% sure when I wrote/gave this talk, but considering it was hand-written and I only used one side of each paper, I assume I was 16-18 when I gave it. It is on adversity…

Adversity – we all experience it every day of our lives: disappointment, misery, pain, failure, grief – all the things in our life that appear negative.

But today I would like to prove to each of you that adversity is a very essential and very positive aspect of our lives.

H.G. Wells said, “What on earth would a man do with himself if something did not stand in his way?”

Without trials we could not appreciate the time without them. Our lives would be lacking in good, happy times. As Lehi said to Jacob in 2 Nephi 2:11:

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”

Basically, without adversity there would be no state of being – if nothing is bad, nothing is good either.

Another reason why trials exist is to punish the unrighteous, which are us in many instances. To learn from mistakes, punishments must be given. When kids like to their parents, they get punished. Well, our trials can sometimes be punishments from God for our sins. We may never know for sure if an affliction is a punishment or not, but I think we can kind of sense it.

In the scriptures, the punishment for the wicked quite frequently is death. For example, after Christ’s crucifixion, tempests, earthquakes, fires, etc., came upon the people in the Americas. Christ says in 3 Nephi 9:11-12:

“And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.

And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.”

Not all punishments for sin are that extreme, obviously, but they do exist amongst our own trials.

Adversity also exists to humble the proud. I can’t remember who said it, but it has been said that there are two kinds of people, those that are humble and those who are compelled to be humble.

Alma 62:41 deals with the war between the Nephite and the Lamanites:

“But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.”

The proud and prosperous tend to forget their God until great trials occur that cause them to humble themselves and ask for help.

Helaman 12:3 says: “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with death and with terror and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.”

I think it’s true that in our lives when things are going well, we do not thank our God for our blessings or recognize them as much as when we feel like trials outweigh them. That’s when we go to Him and realize we need Him to go through our lives happily and successfully.

Trials also help teach us patience. In Romans 5:3-5 we read that “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.”

We all have had many trials and know that they eventually go away when endured well, but in order to endure pain, we must have patience, and as the scripture said, with patience comes experience.

Let’s turn to Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 122:7. At this time Joseph is in Liberty jail. The Lord tells him: “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”

It’s amazing that all those terrible things could be a good experience.

Phillip Brooks said: “There are no times in life when opportunity, the chance to be and do, gathers so quickly about the soul as when it has to suffer. Then everything depends on whether the man turns to the lower or the higher helps. If he resorts to mere expedients or tricks, the opportunity is lost. He comes out no richer nor greater; nay, he comes out harder, poorer, smaller for his pain. But, if he turns to God, the hour of suffering is the turning hour of his life.”

According to this, trials are for our good and experience wif we turn to God for help and not the world.

John Donne also speaks of the good in affliction: “Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it and made fit for God.”

The final and most important reason for adversity that I will speak of is preparation to be worthy of exaltation.

D&C136:31 says: “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion, and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom.”

Celestial glory cannot be received without the endurance of trials.

I would also like to read D&C 58:2-4 – could everyone turn there, please? It reads:

“For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.”

So, we have adversity for many reasons, like for the appreciation of good, for punishment, for experience, and for preparation for eternal life. But, we still have to go through it, it is still hard despite the fact that it is a good thing. So, how can we be comforted in our trials?

One of the most important comforts is knowing and remembering that Jesus Christ endured all the sins and pains of the world. Twice in the garden He asked for the cup to be removed from Him, but both times He said, Not my will, but Thy will be done.

He endured more in the garden than we ever will in our entire lives. That should give us hope of enduring our pain and suffering. He will always be with us if we come unto Him.

And how do we come unto Him? We keep His commandments always and never doubt His great love for each of us.

Romans 8:35-39 : “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We must also pray to the Father for comfort. Jacob 3:1 reads:

“…Look unto God with firmness of mind and pray unto him with exceeding faith and he will console you in your afflictions and he will plead your cause and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.”

Also, just remember Job’s words in Job 5:17: “Happy is the man who God correcteth.”

I would like to end by reading the words to the hymn “Be Still, My Soul,” the first and third verses:

  1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;

With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend

Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

3. Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

That was the end of my written talk, but I assume that after I read the words to this sacred hymn, that I bore my testimony of Jesus Christ, and how through Him, we can overcome any trial. As I read these words back to myself, I was struck at the truthfulness of them. I will try to remember all of this when I go through hard times, and  use them to provide comfort when I see others go through similar times. 

Thank you for sharing!