Saturday, May 10, 2014

Walking through the Fires of Affliction

Neal A Maxwell once said, "The thermostat on the furnace of affliction will not have been set too high for us - though clearly we may think so at the time. Our God is a refining God who has been tempering soul-steel for a very long time. He knows when the right edge has been put up on our excellence and also when there is more in us than we have yet given. One day we will praise God for taking us near to our limits - as He did His Only Begotten in Gethsemane and Calvary." ("All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience")

Often we feel that the trials we face in this life are not fair, nor are they bearable for us. Nothing can be further from the truth than the latter portion, and nothing can be closer to it than the former portion. The trials of this life were never meant to be easy, nor were they meant to be fair in our eyes.

They are fair in the sense that both Cain and Abel have trials, both King David and Lazarus have trials, both Joseph of Egypt and Ahaz have trials, and both Laman and Nephi have trials. There is often more equality in the trials than we'd think, however. In the premortal life, we signed up for the trials we would face, because we had been taught the things that we needed to learn to become like our Father, and how we would need to learn them.

We all were at different points in our progression; we were all of different refinement levels of our soul-steel. The flames must be hot enough, and the right type of flames, to purify and refine the crude iron out of us. If the fire is not hot enough, we will never become the manner of men and women we'd ought to be. The bar has been set high by the Son of the Living God: Jesus Christ. None of us will ever measure up to His stature in this life. We do not have the capacity to endure all that He did.

We can, however, emulate His example. When we are in our own Gethsemanes and on our own Golgothas, can we reach out to others selflessly? Can we bless others in the midst of our own storms? Such is the majesty of the Son of Man. On the cross, Christ did not think of the pain of the nails nor the blood from the thorns, rather He thought of His mother. When knelt in the agony of Gethsemane, He did not shrink, but He atoned for each one of us the way He did all his other work: one by one.

He did not slack; He did not skip a person: not even Judas, who He knew would betray Him in just a few hours. He went one by one in a way unknown to us, and took our place in the punishment required by the Law of Justice, so that He could extend to us His Mercy. He cut no corners, even when the going got tough; He lived the Gospel right until the end. "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost" (Matt 27:54 JST). He kept His life force going, which He alone had power to do, until the will of the Father had been fulfilled. 

We will not have to walk alone because He walked with us. We can rely on His infinite strength for our finite problems. We may be pushed to our limits, but we will never be pushed to His limits!