I was sitting in my seminary class in Garland, Utah, only half-listening to my teacher discuss the trials that Joseph Smith and the early Saints had endured. It was in the middle of my senior year. We were studying Church history, and although I had an excellent teacher, I was not interested in being there that day.
Seminary was my last class. It had been a particularly bad day, and I was feeling sorry for myself. I had taken my seat without so much as offering a smile to Brother Anderson, who always had a cheerful word for everyone. He didn’t say much, but I could tell he knew something was wrong. Well, why shouldn’t there be something wrong? I had every right to feel this way, I thought. I was tired of everything in my life. I was tired of my classes, tired of my teachers, tired of small-town life with nothing to do, and most of all, tired of high school.
I had a serious case of “senioritis” on top of all the other pressures in my life. My parents seemed to be cramping my life-style; I had a school newspaper deadline and a debate meet coming up, neither of which I was prepared for; and to top it all off, I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled soon. Needless to say, I was feeling rather picked on.
In the midst of my depression, something I heard in class seemed to reach out to me. Brother Anderson was telling about a time Joseph Smith and some of his friends were locked up once again for crimes they hadn’t committed. In desperation, Joseph pleaded with the Lord for deliverance, asking him why they were being allowed to suffer when they had been so faithful. Then Brother Anderson read to us Doctrine and Covenants 122:7–8, the Lord’s answer to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” [D&C 122:7–8]
He emphasized every word in the last sentence, and the room was completely silent as we pondered those words. I felt like I had been hit over the head with a sledge hammer.
“Wow,” I muttered.
Brother Anderson looked at me and smiled. “Yeah, wow,” he said. Who was I to complain? What right did I have to tell the Lord that my life wasn’t fair? How could I have been so ungrateful?
I have never forgotten that day or the way I felt. That scripture seems to be constantly in the back of my mind, and as soon as I want to ask, “Why me, Lord?” I hear Brother Anderson’s deep, smooth voice saying quietly and slowly, “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”
I will always be grateful to the Lord for this experience. How my attitude has changed. My outlook on life was turned around, and I can keep my trials in perspective now. Nephi said, “For I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne. 3:7). I, too, know this to be true. I probably have not yet experienced even half of my life’s trials, but I will forever remember that day in seminary when I was so effectively humbled and brought to a full realization of the sacrifice suffered by our Savior, Jesus Christ, so that we might have eternal life.