Previously, I wrote on adversities and posed this question, “Why hasn’t He parted the Sea for me?” In attempts to answer this question, I turned to passages of scripture in which prophets have pleaded to the Lord for intervention. I found that there are many instances in which the Lord does not resolve problems like He did with Moses when He parted the Sea. For example, the Prophet Joseph Smith while incarcerated in Liberty Jail in 1839 for advocating religious freedom pleaded to the Lord, “ O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” (D&C 121:1). Likewise, King David in the book of Psalms, was hated by Saul, his best friend’s father and the king he had sworn to honor, asked “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?” (Psalm 13:1). And most soberly, Christ in his moment of intense pain, felt the Lord’s absence and cried, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). If these Prophets– even His own son, did not feel the Lord’s hand in their moments of adversity, then I should feel better about not feeling His, right?
But why would the Lord not want to help us? Because of tough love! Just like a mother/father stands back to watch her/his child figure out a puzzle or get them to walk, likewise, Heavenly Father stands back to watch us go through our earthly puzzles. Mormon belief is that life is a test to prove ourselves, to stretch and grow and to show what we’re made of. When the Lord chooses to not part our personal seas, he trusts that we can accomplish the tasks at hand and that we can figure out how to walk through our adversities.
While in Liberty Jail, the Lord did respond to Joseph Smith’s pleas and re-affirmed “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” And further adds, “The Son of Man (meaning Christ) hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:7-8) Jesus Christ while in the Garden of Gethsemane, in intense anguish, prayed three times to Heavenly Father that he not drink the bitter cup—meaning he not go through the pains of the atonement (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22). However, Heavenly Father did not remove his bitter cup. Figuratively, Jesus Christ had to drink it. He bled form every pore and was made to stand trial, beaten, spat upon, and scorned. He was crucified. There, He felt the pains, sins, and weakness of the world. Why did He have to do this? Because He was the only one, a sinless man, who could take away our blemishes. He sacrificed himself so that mankind can one day be spotless before God, and have a fair chance towards eternal life and immortality (Moses 1:39).
When the Lord asked Joseph Smith if he was greater than Christ, in my previous example, He also meant that no matter how hard our trials are, were not at a point where we’ve refined ourselves enough to be like Christ-the sinless man who made the ultimate sacrifice. The hope is that through our trials, we acquire Christ-like attributes. We gain more compassion for humanity, more love for others, more charity, and more faith in our Heavenly Father.
Here’s a personal application: If you haven’t figure out by my husband’s (Logan) posts and descriptions of India, we’re currently (and again) separated due to a work assignment he has in India. After 2-3 weeks from our wedding, just back from our honeymoon, Logan and I tearfully said our goodbyes at the airport–Coincidentally, Logan Airport–not knowing exactly when we would see each other again. Those months were extremely difficult for me. I tried to remain happy, but despair sometimes took over. Every night, I got on my knees pleading to the Lord for help—soften the bureaucrats’ heart so that I can get a visa to India! It never happened. However, I realized that I had the wrong perspective. I, at least, could talk to my husband, see him on Skype. He wasn’t in a war zone. He hadn’t passed away. In my moment of trial, I could relate more to the other women whose husbands were at war, whose husbands had left them widows, whose husbands had just left. Now, my heart feels more compassion and charity for these women. Now, I make it a point to go out of my way to reach out to them. I try to be more Christ-like.
And for the good news: I get to see Logan again today!