As part of Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption, all people experience adversity during their lifetime. Trials, disappointments, sadness, sickness, and heartache are a difficult part of life, but with the help of the Lord they can lead to spiritual growth, refinement, and progress.
Each person’s success and happiness, both now and in the eternities, depend largely on his or her responses to the difficulties of life.
Adversity comes from different sources. Trials may come as a consequence of a person’s own pride and disobedience. These trials can be avoided through righteous living. Other trials are simply a natural part of life and may come at times when people are living righteously. For example, people may experience trials in times of sickness or uncertainty or at the deaths of loved ones. Adversity may sometimes come because of others’ poor choices and hurtful words and actions. Suffering may also come through a loving Heavenly Father as a tutoring experience.
When some people face adversity, they complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, people should consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?”
Different kinds of adversity require different responses. For example, people who are stricken with illness may simply need to be patient and faithful. People who suffer because of others’ words or actions should work toward forgiving those who have offended them. Victims of abuse should seek help immediately. If a person’s trials come because of disobedience, he or she should correct the behavior and humbly seek forgiveness.
Although some of the responses to adversity will vary, one response should be constant—trust in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The prophet Alma taught, “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).