Most of us at some time have wondered about the purpose of our lives. Speaking on this topic, President Brigham Young said: “What are we here for? To learn to enjoy more, and to increase in knowledge and in experience” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 85).
One of the fundamental experiences of life is tribulation. Tribulation can increase our knowledge and, if we adhere to gospel principles, can bring us greater joy.
Elder Richard G. Scott observed: “You are here on earth for a divine purpose. It is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure. You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive the additional blessings God has for you. … The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development” (“Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 24).
Trials can motivate us to grow and progress, as the life of Florence Chukwurah of Lagos, Nigeria, illustrates. In her youth, Sister Chukwurah worked tirelessly to overcome the financial distress in which her family lived. “I determined to break from poverty by seeking God earnestly,” she recalls. “I decided to be obedient to my parents and to older people. I decided to be serious with my schoolwork. And I made up my mind to work hard with my hands.” Through great effort and determination, she was able to help care for her family and to pursue an education, eventually earning nursing and midwifery degrees. Even greater than her desire for material success was her longing to have a family anchored to the Savior and his teachings. She and her husband, who shared her spiritual hunger, prayed diligently to find the truth. When they were finally introduced to the Church, they knew their prayers had been answered.
Today, Sister Chukwurah is grateful for the blessings that came as she struggled with her difficulties. “The Lord heard my prayers,” she testifies. “He understood my struggles and my search for a bright and happy future. He crowned my efforts with blessings too many for me to express. Since I have joined the Church, I wake up with peace in my heart. I sing in my heart all the time” (“Florence Chukwurah: The Miracle of Change,” Liahona, June 1996, 12).
While traveling the sometimes difficult path toward eternal life, may we remember that our Heavenly Father wants us to find joy in the journey. The earth is full of beauty, and life offers many opportunities to develop rewarding relationships with others. Furthermore, much of the sorrow in the world is unnecessary. As Elder M. Russell Ballard explained: “The plan of happiness is available to all of [God’s] children. If the world would embrace and live it, peace, joy, and plenty would abound on the earth. Much of the suffering we know today would be eliminated” (“Answers to Life’s Questions,” Ensign, May 1995, 22–24).
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us what we must know and do to live life fully and joyfully as we prepare for eternity.