Suffering and Trials Empower Us to Learn God’s Lessons

I haven’t posted here for several days. Life got complicated and kind of hard. I feel like Heavenly Father is asking me to better learn some essential gospel principles and He’s asking me to seek a better understanding of His Son, Jesus Christ.

You may remember that in December I mentioned losing my sense of smell. It hasn’t fully returned. It comes intermittently and goes with equal unpredictability. I can smell warm cat food – ugh- but I couldn’t smell the sausage I burned two days ago. Then, three weeks ago I lost my voice. It’s getting better slowly, but it’s been almost as unpredictable as my sense of smell. I’ve thought about what I can learn from these things, and frankly, it’s difficult to find satisfying answers.

I have learned a great deal about gratitude. I never thought I’d be grateful for the smell of cat food, but it gives me a large measure of hope that I have not lost this sense permanently.

I have learned about the importance of listening to the quiet voice. Whether it is the Holy Spirit, or a child, a burdened friend, or someone who does not wish to intrude or give offense, usually the quiet voice is telling you something worth taking the time to hear. I have learned that, for the most part, the Savior’s voice was never heard. He said first love God. Then, love your neighbor, but love God first. He said, if you love me, keep my commandments. Listen to the quiet voice.

This week a relative, who our family was trying to help overcome an alcohol addiction, and who we thought was making excellent progress, borrowed a car to help her son in need. I was sick and couldn’t go out, but she’d been doing well, and we thought she would be fine to drive. Unfortunately, she drank while she was with her son, and then decided to drive home. Thankfully, she was pulled over for a traffic violation and arrested. But the sense of betrayal and loss of trust has been deep. Her choices have had a major impact on our family, and as her mother cleaned the room her daughter had been using, it was discovered that she had been drinking, and lying about it all along.

We’d paid for her to go to a doctor specializing in addictions – had she fooled him, too? I don’t know. She’d been attending AA meetings. She’d been applying for jobs. She’d been eating and interacting with the family. Finding the empty bottles that she’d hidden was like a kick to the gut. The sense of loss, betrayal, and pain is deep. I’ve prayed to understand why we needed to get pulled into this mess. Our car was impounded. Her mother suffers deeply. We have no answers, but daily we discover old lies and realize she continues to tell new ones.

Jesus Christ suffered deep betrayal. Judas sold him out. But I’m a sinner, too. Even if Judas hadn’t sold him out, Jesus still would have suffered the intercessory prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He still would have had to suffer and overcome death, because that was what he promised his Heavenly Father – our Heavenly Father – and each of us, he would do. He promised to live a perfect life, sin-free, and to pay the excruciating price for our sins, and to overcome death itself. In the end, the betrayal the Savior experienced was more about who Judas was, and not about what would happen to Jesus as a consequence. So I suppose what I need to think about in my situation is to realize that the betrayal my family has experienced says more about our loved one currently sitting in jail, and our response to the situation will display who we are – who I am.

I will not rescue this relative. She has a savior – the same one I have – turning to him must be her choice. I will love her by sending letters, by visiting when she’ll allow, and by continuing to pray that one day she will be able to see and accept the Gift and help that can only come through Jesus Christ and the lifting power of his atonement.

Seeing this video today helped me to overcome some of the spiritual stupor I’ve been in, and to find a way to let go, because God is in this. I trust Him. And I am so deeply grateful for the deep and unfair suffering that Jesus Christ suffered on my behalf.

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