Quotes on Adversity

See: D&C 121

We mortals have a limited view of life from the eternal perspective.  But if we know and understand Heavenly Father’s plan, we realize that dealing with adversity is one of the chief ways we are tested.  Our faith in our Heavenly Father and his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, is the source of inner strength. . . . Hope grows out of faith and gives meaning and purpose to all we do.  It can give us comfort in the face of adversity, strength in times of trial, and peace when we have reason for doubt or anguish. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, May 1995, p. 24

We came to mortal life to encounter resistance.  It was part of the plan for our eternal progress.  Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow, there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being, or joy.  The law of opposition makes freedom of choice possible. — President Howard W. Hunter, General Conference, April 1980

We will all have some adversity in our lives.  I think we can be reasonably sure of that.  Some of it will have the potential to be violent and damaging and destructive.  Some of it may even strain our faith in a loving God who has the power to administer relief in our behalf.

To those anxieties I think the Father of us all would say, “Why are ye so fearful?  How is it that ye have no faith?”  And of course that has to be faith for the whole journey, the entire experience, the fullness of our life, not simply around the bits and pieces and tempestuous moments.  At the end of the journey, an end none of us can see now, we will say, “Master, the terror is over. . . . Linger, Oh, blessed Redeemer!  Leave me alone no more.” — President Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, November 1984, pp. 34-35

I have observed that life – every life – has a full share of ups and downs.  Indeed, we see many joys and sorrows in the world, many changed plans and new directions, many blessings that do not always look or feel like blessings, and much that humbles us and improves our patience and our faith.

Where one door shuts, another opens. . . . We are not always wise enough nor experienced enough to judge adequately all of the possible entries and exits.  The mansion that God prepares for each of His beloved children may have only certain hallways and banisters, special carpets and curtains that He would have us pass on our way to possess it. — President Howard W. Hunter, General Conference, October 1987

 If we are too quick to adapt to the ways of this fleeting and flawed world, that very adjustment will mal-adapt us for life in the next. (Elder Neal A. Maxwell)

The Lord’s peace comes not without pain, but in the midst of pain.  (Clinton Cutler) — Elder Rex D. Pinegar, Ensign, May 1993, p. 66

            Rule #1:  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

            Rule #2:  It’s all small stuff.  If you can’t fight and you can’t flee – FLOW!     — Anonymous

It’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse. . . . No, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse . . . not the death of his love but a shoelace that snaps with no time left. — Anonymous

President Ezra Taft Benson, at an area conference in Sweden in 1974, said:  “It is not on the pinnacle of success and ease where men and women grow most.  It is often down in the valley of heartache and disappointment and reverses where men and women grow into strong characters.” — Elder Julio E. Davila, Ensign, November 1991, p. 24

I want to tell you how good your voices sound. . . . Life has a fair number of challenges in it – as demonstrated . . . despair, doom and discouragement are not an acceptable view of life for a Latter-day Saint.  I want to say to all within the sound of my voice tonight that you have every reason in this world to be happy and to be optimistic. — This statement was made by President Howard W. Hunter immediately following the threat made upon him by a man [Cody Judy] allegedly holding a bomb in the Marriott Center at a BYU Devotional in 1993.

Life has a fair number of challenges in it, and that’s true of life in the 1990s, but the Three Ds of the Nineties – Despair, Doom and Discouragement – “are not an acceptable view of life for a Latter-day Saint,” said President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve.

“However high on the charts they are on the hit parade of contemporary news, we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us. . . .

“I want you to know that there have always been some difficulties in mortal life and there always will be.  But knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair. . . .

“I hope you won’t believe all the world’s difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or they will never get better.  I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better.  They always do – especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives.”

He noted that tribulations and calamities and the prophecies of such times inevitably bring fear, “but I want to stress that these feelings are not necessary for faithful Latter-day Saints and they do not come from God.

“I promise you tonight in the name of the Lord whose servant I am that God will always protect and care for His people.  The Lord has power over His saints and will always prepare places of peace, defense and safety for His people.  When we have faith in God we can hope for a better world – for us personally and for all mankind.”  — Church News, Feb. 13, 1993, p. 12; taken from BYU 19-stake fireside talk by President Howard W. Hunter, Feb. 7, 1993, the day of the bomb threat in the Marriott Center.

Disasters and tribulation are not always for the punishment of the wicked, but often for the sanctification of the righteous.  We admire the early members of the Church for their faithfulness through their numerous trials.  It is interesting to contemplate whether they succeeded in facing their obstacles because of their spirituality or whether they were spiritual because of the obstacles they faced.

Into each of our lives come golden moments of adversity.  This painful friend breaks our hearts, drops us to our knees, and makes us realize we are nothing without our Lord and Savior.  This friend makes us plead all the night long for reassurance and into the next day and sometimes for weeks and months.  But, ultimately, just as surely as the day follows the night, as we remain true and faithful, this strange friend, adversity, leads us straight into the outstretched arms of the Savior.  — Glenn Pace, Ensign, Nov. 1992, pp. 12-13

            The scriptures help us to answer some important questions:

                        ● Does God promise his children immunity from trouble and affliction?

                        ● Is tribulation evidence of his displeasure?

                        ● Did the prophets of old and Christ and his Apostles live without adversity?

                        ● Did he promise his followers that they would be spared trouble?

Scripture responds.  The Sermon on the Mount speaks to those who mourn, who are poor in spirit, who are reviled and persecuted, who have evil spoken against them, falsely. (See Matt. 5:3-4,11.)

The counsel is to turn the other cheek when smitten and to go the extra mile when forced.  Mentioned are those who trespass, who are enemies, who curse and hate and despitefully use innocent others.  The sun shines on the evil and the good, the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  (See Matt. 5:39-45.)

To early leaders in the Church came the admonition, “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many.”  (D&C 24:8.)

God does not deny us the experience we came here to have.  He does not insulate us from tribulation or guarantee immunity from trouble. . . .

We are assured in the scriptures that we may know of a surety that the Lord does visit his people in their afflictions.  (See Mosiah 24:13-14.)  And that “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.) — Elder Marion D. Hanks, Ensign, Nov. 1992, p. 64

To endure, to be patient in the midst of affliction, in the midst of being misunderstood and in the midst of suffering, that is sainthood. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “But for a Small Moment,” BYU, July 1, 1974

A person does not have to spend much time in the schoolroom of mortality to realize that Heavenly Father’s plan does not provide for blissful happiness at every step along our mortal journey.  Life is filled with harsh realities that tug at the heart and tear away at the soul.

I can understand why someone who lacks an eternal perspective might see the horrifying news footage of starving children and man’s inhumanity to man and shake a fist at the heavens and cry, “If there is a God, how could He allow such things to happen?”

The answer is not easy, but it isn’t that complicated either.  God has put His plan in motion.  It proceeds through natural laws that are, in fact, God’s laws.  Since they are His, He is bound by them, as are we.  I recognize that for purposes we mortals may not understand, the Lord can control the elements.  For the most part, however, He does not cause but He allows nature to run its course.  In this imperfect world, bad things sometimes happen.  The earth’s rocky underpinnings occasionally shift and move, resulting in earthquakes.  Certain weather patterns cause hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and drought.

Much adversity is man-made.  Men’s hearts turn cold, and the spirit of Satan controls their actions.  In foreseeing the day of suffering in our time, the Savior said, “The love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.”  (D&C 45:27).  Violence, immorality, and other evils run rampant on the earth.  Much adversity has its origin in the principle of agency.  — Elder M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 1995, Church News, March 15, 1997, p. 14

Partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is . . . part of the emulation of Jesus.  — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, General Conference, October 1997

The gospel isn’t insurance against pain, it is a resource in the event of pain. — Carlfred Broderick

Antagonistic journalists made [Joseph F. Smith] the brunt of vilifying articles and defaming cartoons.  His daughter Edith Eleanor recalled when “the news media was really persecuting my father.  Some of the people at school had in their possession false reports and lies about Father.  I went home from school furious one day.  As soon as Father came in that evening I said to him, ‘Papa, why don’t you do something?  You’re not doing one thing, and these mean men are taking advantage of you, printing all these lies.’” Her father smiled and said, “‘Baby, don’t get upset.  They are not hurting me one bit; they are only hurting themselves.  Don’t you know, Baby, that when someone tells a lie they are only hurting themselves more than anyone else?’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, 257.) — Jill Derr and Heidi Swinton, “Joseph F. Smith,” Ensign, January 2000, pp. 42-43

It is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, . . . Many of the righteous shall fall prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God.  (See D&C 1:17.) — Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:11

 “In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong.  In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul.  It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God.  In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.”

Elder Faust noted that “unfortunately, some of our greatest tribulations are the result of our own foolishness and weakness and occur because of our own carelessness or transgression.” (James E. Faust, in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, pp. 77–78; or Ensign, May 1979, pp. 53–54)  Other afflictions are the result of disease and weakness of the mortal body.  Some adversity is the result of wicked individuals misusing their agency. Also, God’s judgments against the wicked cause famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and other tribulations. 

But at least as important as the cause of adversity is how the Lord uses it to perfect us.  President Brigham Young said that Joseph Smith progressed toward perfection more in thirty-eight years because of his trials than he would have been able to do in a thousand years without them (see Journal of Discourses, 2:7).  Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 296

All . . . who are being tried in the crucible of adversity and affliction:  Take courage; revive your spirits and strengthen your faith. In these lessons so impressively taught in precept and example by our great exemplar, Jesus Christ, and his Prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith, we have ample inspiration for comfort and for hope.

If we can bear our afflictions with the understanding, faith, and courage, and in the spirit in which they bore theirs, we shall be strengthened and comforted in many ways.  We shall be spared the torment which accompanies the mistaken idea that all suffering comes as chastisement for transgression. . . .

We can draw assurance from the Lord’s promise that “he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.”           

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, [he said,] the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow much tribulation.  “For after much tribulation come the blessings. . . .” (D&C 58:2–4)   — Elder Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, p. 59; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, pp. 296-97

Early Church leaders in this dispensation . . . further pointed out that in offering whatever sacrifice God may require of us, we obtain the witness of the Spirit that our course is right and pleasing to God (see Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 69-71).  With that knowledge, our faith becomes unbounded, having the assurance that God will in due time turn every affliction to our gain.  Some of you have been sustained by that faith as you have endured those who point fingers of scorn from the “great and spacious building” and cry, “Shame!” (see 1 Nephi 8:26-27), and you have stood firm with Peter and the Apostles of old, “rejoicing that [you] were counted worthy to suffer shame for [Christ’s] name” (Acts 5:41).  — Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Ensign, May 2009, pp. 19-20

It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop. — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Seek ‘Happily Ever After’,” Church News, April 3, 2010, p. 3

It is often in the trial of adversity that we learn those most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny. . . .

I have seen enough ups and downs throughout my life to know that winter will surely give way to the warmth and hope of a new spring.  I am optimistic about the future.  We must remain steadfast in hope, work with all our strength, and trust in God. . . .

When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer – no matter how eloquent the oration. — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Two Principles for Any Economy,” General Conference, October 2009

If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart.  So it has been with the best people who ever lived. — Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Inconvenient Messiah,” BYU Speeches, Feb 15, 1982

My purpose today is to assure you that our Heavenly Father and the Savior live and that They love all humanity.  The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of Their infinite love.  God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. Then our spirits will be changed.  We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks, and thus be prepared for the trust of an endless posterity to teach and to lead through tests to be raised up to qualify to live forever in eternal life.

It is clear that for us to have that gift and to be given that trust, we must be transformed through making righteous choices where that is hard to do.  We are prepared for so great a trust by passing through trying and testing experiences in mortality.  That education can come only as we are subject to trials while serving God and others for Him.  — President Henry B. Eyring, “Adversity,” Ensign, May 2009

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions.  Some serve a useful purpose; others do not.  To ask, Why does this have to happen to me?  Why do I have to suffer this, now?  What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God.  Rather ask, 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?  Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do.  Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father. — Elder Richard G. Scott, Conference Report, Oct, 1995

We must be more concerned about what we do with what happens to us than we are with what happens to us. — Elder Marvin J. Ashton