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Learning through Trials

I have often pondered, “Why is it that the Son of God and His holy prophets and all the faithful Saints have trials and tribulations, even when they are trying to do Heavenly Father’s will? Why is it so hard, especially for them?”

I think about Joseph Smith, who suffered illness as a boy and persecution throughout his life. Like the Savior, he cried out, “O God, where art thou?” (D&C 121:1). Yet even when he was seemingly alone, he exercised his agency to wait upon the Lord and carry out his Heavenly Father’s will, like the Savior.

I think of our pioneer forebears, driven from Nauvoo and crossing the plains—exercising their agency to follow a prophet even as they suffered sickness, privation, and even death. Why such terrible tribulation? To what end? For what purpose?

As we ask these questions, we realize the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we “wait upon the Lord” (Psalm 37:9; 123:2; Isaiah 8:17; 40:31; 2 Nephi 18:17). Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstance, “all these things shall [be for our] experience, and . . . for [our] good” (D&C 122:7).

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