Lessons about trials from the Book of Job
More than seven months have passed since COVID-19 disrupted our lives.
This world-wide pandemic has profoundly changed our circumstances, attitudes and behavior. While some of us have done our best to figure out how to stay well and connect to precious family and friends; others have used the bewildering situation as excuses to commit vandalism, burglaries, even murder. None of us can ignore what is still happening across our country. Each of us is responsible to behave in a manner that will heal, not destroy.
Farmers in the deserts of northwest Mexico grow a hardy variety of bean, the white tepary. Its seeds sprout and grow with very little water and in temperatures above 110 degrees. Most plants wither and die in these circumstances. But the tepary sends its roots down six feet or more into sandy soil that is otherwise barren. This humble plant could teach us something about flourishing despite an increasingly wicked world. We can bear good fruit even when faced by conditions that destroy others.
I’ve been studying the book of Job, more than I ever have before–as I’ve sought answers for meeting my own, almost overwhelming, challenges. I’ve learned important lessons about Job’s faith and righteousness that helped him endure and eventually conquer adversities that would defeat most of us (and which make mine seem sort of insignificant).
Job was a good man who followed God and was wealthy but not materialistic. He was compassionate, helping others and holding fast to his integrity (see Job 2:3). Then he lost his property, his children, and his health. He lost the support of his family and friends and was mocked by those who gloated about his downfall.
Even though he was confused about why trials had come into his life and began to feel that God had forgotten him, he found strength in his faith and knowledge of Christ. “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:25-26)
(Job 23:10) “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
It’s short sighted and not very productive to think that adversity comes as punishment for sin. Yes, sometimes we suffer the consequences of sin, but adversity is part of the purpose of mortal life. Elder Orson F. Whitney said, “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted … especially when we endure it patiently, (it) builds our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, … and makes us more worthy to be called the children of God. … it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire….”
We’ll be very disappointed if we think our lives should be full of pleasure and absent of pain. Spencer W. Kimball said, “If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.”
Living by faith isn’t always easy, but we can do it when we reject adversity and continue to hope for the best!