11 August 2014


I'm playing a little catch-up, so this post should be followed by another shortly.

As a reminder, the purpose of my renewed blogging is to share spiritual thoughts and ideas as they come to me, ideally on a weekly basis. This post is the fruit of several experiences, most recently the recently diagnosed illness of a friend.

I like control. I enjoy planning, and considering the things that can go wrong with my plans and preparing for those possibilities. When the plans or counter-plans go awry, I can become quite frustrated. It is one of my great challenges.

Occasionally we received reminders of how little we can control. Sometimes this comes as the result of a reversal of business fortunes, or as in this case, illness. My perspective on this particular instance is shaped partly by its distance. I am not the patient, so it is a little easier to consider an appropriate reaction. This sounds calculating, but it is really just a way of recognizing that my feelings are my own, and I have a very hard time criticizing anyone who struggles with news such as this.

When someone you care about has a trial, it is normal to ask why. In this case, there is no predisposition or family history, outside of normal probability. There has been no bad behavior, no action that would merit such a trial. This is usually the case, and we ask ourselves, "Why do bad things happen to good people."

The prophet Nephi (found in the Book of Mormon) was shown a vision and was asked about "the condescension of God" He gave this response:

I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
1 Nephi 11:17

When bad things happen to good people, I often remember this verse. I don't understand the purpose for everything that happens. I don't understand why children suffer, why mothers and sisters get sick, or why any number of sad and difficult things occur, but I know that God loves us.

And I also know that when bad things happen, to us or to those we care about, we have to focus on what we can control. We can control our response. We can control our relationship to God. We can love, and serve, and pray.

This was a comforting realization, one that I have had before, but also one that I needed to remember. It came to me as I fasted and prayed for the welfare of my friend and their family. We must never allow what happens to us to control us. We are able to move our spiritual selves to where our Heavenly Father has asked us to go. By doing that, He has promised to bless us with His Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives comfort, peace, and testifies of truth.

Our mortal perspective often impels us to turn away, to seek to blame. This is a reaction, and we were created to act, and not to be acted upon.

I was grateful for this reminder. Now the real task is to remember to turn to God even when things are going well, when we are not compelled to be humble. This is how we can prepare for the trials that come, so that when they do come we have no reason to doubt His love.

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