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Why do we have adversity?

As part of Heavenly Father’s plan, we must experience adversity during mortality. In some cases, adversity comes as the result of our own poor choices or the choices of others. Other trials are simply a natural part of our mortal experience. Though they are difficult, our challenges can help us grow spiritually and become more like Jesus Christ.

Prepare yourself spiritually

As you prepare, prayerfully study these scriptures and resources, as well as others that have helped you learn about adversity.

1 Samuel 1; 1 Kings 17; Ruth 1; Esther 4; 1 Nephi 5:1–9 (Examples of women in the scriptures who faced adversity)

2 Nephi 2:11 (Adversity is part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us)

Mosiah 23:21 (God gives us adversity to test our faith)

Ether 12:27 (God gives us weakness so we will be humble)

D&C 58:3–4 (After adversity comes the blessing)

D&C 121:7–8 (If we endure adversity well, God will exalt us)

D&C 122:4–9 (Adversity gives us experience and is for our good)

Yoon Hwan Choi, “Don’t Look Around, Look Up!Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 90–92

Evan A. Schmutz, “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 116–18

Dallin H. Oaks, “Opposition in All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 114–17

Neil L. Andersen, “Spiritual Whirlwinds,Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 18–21; see also the video for his talk “Spiritual Whirlwinds”

Adversity,True to the Faith (2004), 8–11

Videos: “God Will Lift Us Up,” “The Priesthood Can Strengthen Our Families in Trials,” “Rebuilding Lives”

Share experiences

At the beginning of each class, invite the young women to share, teach, and testify about the experiences they have had applying what they learned in the previous week’s lesson. This will encourage personal conversion and help the young women see the relevance of the gospel in their daily lives.

Introduce the doctrine

Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this week’s lesson:

  • As a class, review Elder Neil L. Andersen’s description of a tree growing in a windy environment (in his talk “Spiritual Whirlwinds”). What does this analogy teach the young women about adversity? Invite them to search the talk, looking for counsel that they feel will help them withstand spiritual whirlwinds.

Learn together

Each of the activities below will help the young women learn about the purposes of adversity. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Bring a chain or a picture of a chain to class. What would happen if one of the links in the chain were to break? How can we ensure that we will be a strong link in the chain of generations within our eternal family? Invite the young men to search for how Elder Yoon Hwan Choi answered this question in his talk “Don’t Look Around, Look Up!” starting with the paragraph that begins, “All of us are in the middle of an eternal family.” How did Elder Choi and his family look to Christ in the stories he shared? What are some times when “it’s not always easy to look up”? What suggestions did Elder Choi give in the last paragraph of his talk to help us “always look up to [Christ]” during adversity?
  • Share with the young women the story told by Elder Evan A. Schmutz about Brother Daniel Apilado (in his talk “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears”). What do the young women learn about the purposes of adversity from this story? What counsel does Elder Schmutz give to those who have adversity?
  • Read together some scriptures in which the Savior experienced adversity (such as Matthew 4:1–11; 26:38–39; Luke 23:33–34). What can the young women learn about adversity from the Savior’s life? How did He face His trials? Invite each young woman to write down a trial that she or a loved one is facing. Encourage the young women to ponder what they can learn from the Savior’s example that could help with this trial.
  • Invite the young women to think of examples of women in the scriptures who faced adversity (see the examples suggested in this outline). Ask them to read about these women in the scriptures and summarize the story for the rest of the class. What do they learn about adversity from these stories that can help them overcome their own trials?
  • Divide the class into two groups. Invite one group to look for examples in the Book of Mormon of individuals or groups who faced difficult challenges (see, for example, Mosiah 24:8–17; 3 Nephi 1:4–21; Moroni 1). Invite the other group to look through the hymnbook to find a hymn that helps them during their trials. Ask the groups to share what they learn that could help them overcome adversity. 
  • Draw a line down the middle of the board, and write “Why do we have adversity?” at the top of one column and “How can we face the challenges in our lives?” at the top of the other. Divide Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s talk “Opposition in All Things” into sections, and give each young woman a section to read. Ask the young women to look for answers to these questions and to write their answers on the board in the appropriate column. What insights do the young women gain from the talk? You could also show one of the videos suggested in this outline to help the young women find additional answers to the questions on the board.

Ask the young women to share what they learned today. Do they understand why we have adversity? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be helpful to spend more time on this doctrine?

Live what we are learning

Invite the young women to consider how they will live what they have learned today. For example, they could:

  • Find a way to comfort a loved one who is facing a trial by sharing what they learned about adversity.
  • Talk to their families about family members who have overcome adversity.