Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Suffering-why?

Job, while he did not understand why God permitted his affliction, would not judge the Lord nor lose his faith in Him. “Let me alone,” he said to his friends, “let come on me what will” ( v. 13 ). God was his salvation, and Job trusted in Him alone. Job saw his afflictions in perspective. As President Spencer W. Kimball said: “If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective.” ( Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 97.)

Job’s friends challenged God’s wisdom, and they saw Job’s suffering as a punishment sent from God. But Job had a greater understanding. He knew that God was there, although his prayers for relief were not answered as he might wish. Should his suffering really have been the result of personal sin, he begged the Lord to cause him to know so that he could repent ( v. 23 ).

But suffering is not always the result of sin. Suffering has a larger purpose, part of which is educative. President Kimball said:

“Is there not wisdom in his giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?

“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.

“If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil—all would do good but not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, only satanic controls.

“Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.” ( Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 97.)

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