Try to endure gratefully,
or at least patiently
The year 2020 brought challenges that none of us expected. Most of us are reeling from illness, loneliness, worry about loved ones, wondering whether we’ll be able to pay the rent or mortgage, and a host of other difficult situations.
I received a couple of entertaining cards this past Christmas; I’d like to share the sentiments because it’s much better to laugh than grouch. One showed some darling children. The greeting said, “BEST YEAR EVER … said no one.” The other also had pictures of cute sisters and the sentiment: “Hey 2020! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…”
One of my grandchildren discovered a butterfly chrysalis clinging to a branch in our back yard. He watched and watched, anxious to see the butterfly emerge. When a small split opened up, he was delighted and carefully “helped” the insect emerge. The creature didn’t look at all like the beautiful butterfly he expected, and it died without taking flight. It was hard to talk to him about the butterfly’s needing to struggle and strengthen its wings. But he felt a little better when I told him about my “helping” a duckling hatch which doomed it. Ducklings and all other birds must struggle to get rid of their shells in order to thrive.
At one point in our family’s struggles, our oldest son threw his teenaged self across my lap and cried, “Why are we being punished??” We had just gone through a business deal where our would-be partner had purposefully changed the location of an oil well to avoid paying us royalties.
It was difficult for this teen to understand that the criminal actions of someone else didn’t mean God was punishing us. Mortal life isn’t meant to be a Disneyland (with all expenses paid). We knew when we came here that we would be tested and tried—that was the only way we could progress. Unfortunately part of the testing involves not remembering our life in the pre-existence. We are expected to follow God’s teachings and to develop faith to step forward into the darkness, knowing that we will find the light we need if we “search, ponder, and pray.” I tend to be like a little kid who wants to run into a busy street to play, who screams and kicks when a watchful parent pulls her back to safety. I want things to be the way I want them and I resist acknowledging Heavenly Father’s greater wisdom.
But I’m gradually learning to “wait upon the Lord” and to accept His “peace that passeth understanding.” I’m learning to “wait upon the Lord” and be grateful for the experiences of my life—many of which I’d just as soon do without!
God knows everything we need and He’ll make sure those needs are met. But He never gives us easy answers to our prayers. Like butterflies and ducklings, we must always work and struggle before anything good comes to pass. A few prayers and a couple of fasts aren’t sufficient effort, either. The biggest challenges with the greatest rewards require the greatest efforts.
I’ve learned to continue striving to do better, to never assume that I’ve “done enough” and should be rewarded. Most of all, I’ve learned to be grateful for blessings far richer and greater than any I could have imagined a few years ago. May this New Year be one of understanding and loving each other. And may we all learn to cooperate and lift one another’s burdens.