August 17th, 2008

Our Own Tests of Faith


photo credit: sasha_afisha

Given the insight of historical analysis and the distance of time, it is easy for people in our day to look back on others’ trials and notice what they did wrong. Pursuant to this line of thinking is the tendency to assume that we would have acted a certain way, were we to have faced similar circumstances. But faced with our own trials of faith and commitment, what will future generations say of our own decisions?

Have you ever wondered about your decision to stand with Christ in the pre-mortal realm? The very fact that we are alive today is an indication of our decision to accept God’s plan. But what was that decision like? Did friends and loved ones decide to follow the opposing side? How intense was the struggle? How harsh were the words exchanged? How flattering and tempting were the enemy’s enticements?

We are left only to speculate about why one third of the hosts of heaven decided to reject God’s plan. Reading the stories of the children of Israel, Lehi and his family, or the early pioneers of this dispensation, we wonder with amazement at how many times they stumbled, especially on seemingly easy things. As one example, President Eyring shared this story of Haun’s Mill:

When tensions ran high in northern Missouri in the fall of 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for all the Latter-day Saints to gather to Far West for protection. Many were on isolated farms or in scattered settlements. He specifically counseled Jacob Haun, founder of a small settlement called Haun’s Mill. A record of that time includes this: “Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message.” Later, the Prophet Joseph recorded in his history: “Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel.” Then the Prophet recorded the sad truth that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun’s Mill had his counsel been received and followed. (Henry B. Eyring, Safety in Counsel)

All that had to be done was to follow a prophet’s voice. President Eyring goes on to describe the safety that comes from obeying counsel. Both our physical and spiritual safety and long term security depend upon our willingness to remain faithful to the Lord and follow the man whom He has called as His prophet.

It is one thing to read stories of others’ experiences and think that we would have acted correctly, and entirely another thing to have a living individual give us counsel on what to do, and have to reconcile a potentially conflicting plan with our own circumstances, opinions, ideas, and desires. In our own tests of faith, how will we decide and whose side will we take? What will our posterity say of our own decision when they are afforded the luxury of hindsight? Will they be proud of our choices and recognize our fidelity to the gospel, or will they look at our decision as an opportunity for them to learn from our mistakes?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Martin Luther King, Jr., via Quoty)

We deceive ourselves if we claim that we would have been counted with the faithful in past trials yet fall short in our own day. Whatever trials come our way, whatever challenges and controversies creep into our midst, it is imperative that we do whatever we are asked by the man whom we sustain as the prophet. We are judged and sifted not by what we claim we would have done in times past, but what we are doing today.

10 Responses to “Our Own Tests of Faith”

  1. Cliff
    August 17, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    The very fact that we are alive today is an indication of our decision to accept God’s plan.

    Thats pretty bad logic.

    I am SURE there is NO God, and I’m alive? Are you SURE about that statement?

  2. Allie
    August 17, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Oh come on Cliff! :)

    “According to Connor’s religion, the fact that we are alive today is an indication of our decision to accept God’s plan”.

  3. Cliff
    August 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Oh Come on Allie.:)

    It’s illogical.

  4. Allie
    August 17, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    Illogical to you.

    :)

  5. Jeff T
    August 17, 2008 at 8:34 pm #

    Cliff,

    Do you realize he is talking about before we are born? In our religion, we believe that no one is born without accepting God’s plan prior to birth, even if they subsequently reject it on earth. Thus, based on this premise (if you believe it to be true), it is perfectly logical to suppose that every person alive accepted God’s plan prior to birth, even if they do not believe it now.

  6. David
    August 18, 2008 at 6:02 am #

    “We are judged and sifted not by what we claim we would have done in times past, but by what we are doing today.”

    Well stated Connor.

  7. Cliff
    August 18, 2008 at 6:55 am #

    Ah. Got it.

  8. Jason
    August 18, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    The thought I had as I read the title and first paragraph is the exact opposite of the point you were actually making. The thought I had was that of looking at the trials of others and being amazed that they did what they did and wondering IF I could have done the same.

    The prime example that is used commonly is that of the early Latter-Day Saints who suffered so much persecution, moved from place to place and eventually crossed the plains to settle in Salt Lake City and from there to other places in the West.

    But even in less well-known examples, to hear stories or witness first-hand personal courage or absolute commitment and wonder if I could have done as much.

  9. Jeff T
    August 18, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    I’m not sure I understand how the picture relates with the post…

  10. Connor
    August 18, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    I’m not sure I understand how the picture relates with the post…

    Think Garden of Eden. :)

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