Feast upon the Word Blog

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RS/MP Lesson 7: Faithfulness in Times of Trial (Lorenzo Snow Manual)

Posted by Robert C. on April 12, 2013

From the life . . . .

Just 2 weeks after Easter, and we have a lesson that starts off with an anecdote about death.

I was fascinated by Dostoevsky before my mission, in Moscow Russia, and then I fell in love with him after my mission. Dostoevsky had a near-death encounter that played a key role in making him into the greatest novelist of all time.

Lorenzo Snow also faced death, by losing a daughter in his trek west. I have 3 young daughters. The thought of losing one of them horrifies me. How would I cope? What would it do to me? I can hardly bear the thought.

For his part, Pres. Snow used the experience to focus his spiritual energies.

I like how Pres. Snow describes his efforts help cheer the Saints at this time of hardship:

I sought to keep up the spirits and courage of the Saints in Pisgah, not only by inaugurating meetings for religious worship and exercises, in different parts of the settlement, but also by making provisions for, and encouraging proper amusements of various kinds. . . . [T]he hours were enlivened, and happily passed. . . . At the close, all seemed perfectly satisfied, and withdrew, feeling as happy as though they were not homeless. [Page 110]

Finding “proper amusements” so “the hours were enlivened, and happily passed,” and engendering a feeling “as though they were not homeless”—this is a rather strange way to think of serving fellow Saints. And yet, it seems a potent metaphor for everything we do in Church.

Trials and tribulations . . . .

I like Pres. Snow’s comforting words on p. 111: “we may expect at the close of our trials, a great and mighty outpouring of the Spirit and power of God.” Reminds me of Pres. Kimball’s teachings about the trial of faith preceding the miracle, like Joseph Smith’s dark moment just before his first vision.

Next:

It [has] been said that if all our surroundings were peaceful and prosperous now, we would become indifferent. It would be a condition that would be all that would be desired by a good many natures; they would not stretch out after the things of eternity. [Page 111]

I don’t like admitting it, but this has indeed been my experience: when life is easy (“peaceful and prosperous”), I become spiritually laxadaisical(/”indifferent”).

I often read Helaman 12, about the Book of Mormon pride cycle, and I think judgmentally about the foolish Nephites. But the truth is that without trials I grow complacent. On the other hand, I have learned the most and drawn closest to my Heavenly Father during my most difficult periods of life.

As we remain faithful . . . .

Pres. Snow writes: “Every man and woman who serves the Lord, no matter how faithful they may be, have their dark hours” (p. 113). I think Satan knows our weaknesses and works on them. One of my weaknesses is that in moments of trial, I feel discouraged about myself, that I must not be a very good person if I can’t hack the challenges life throws at me. Pres. Snow’s words help me recognize this lie. We all have “dark hours.” So, in those dark moments, we should just focus on the hope the Gospel brings and the sanctifying purpose of trials, so as to better endure them.

I also like this quote:

May we be faithful to ourselves, faithful to all the principles we have received, seeking one another’s interests with all our heart, and God will pour out his Spirit upon us, and we will come off victorious in the end. (Page 114)

Why would Pres. Snow mention “seeking one another’s interests” here? I am a big fan of the New Testament principle, lose your life to find it, and I see this teaching as a reflection of that principle. I’ve often felt most rewarded when I’ve felt the least inclined to serve others.

Looking back on difficult times . . . .

In the midst of this lesson on hardship, Pres. Snow writes about—of all things—gratitude:

I have thought sometimes that one of the greatest virtues the Latter-day Saints could possess is gratitude. . . . [Page 114]

Pres. Snow’s teaching about being grateful for our trials reminds me of the strange verse in Luke 6:23, “Rejoice ye in that day [when men shall hate you], and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.” It also reminds me of Peter’s claim that trials are more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7). To be truly grateful for trial is to recognize the trial as an opportunity to learn—or, as Pres. Snow says earlier in the lesson, an opportunity to be sanctified.

C. S. Lewis writes in The Great Divorce that those who end up in hell look back on all of their trials and see them as stumbling blocks, as justifications for turning away from God and being bitter. Those in heaven, on the other hand, see those same trials as stepping stones that drew them closer to God, in gratitude and humility, with greater patience, and a greater appreciation for each of their blessings.

This, it seems to me, is the real secret to a happy and fulfilling life that is fueled by hardships rather then hindered by them.

2 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 7: Faithfulness in Times of Trial (Lorenzo Snow Manual)”

  1. Robert,
    Thank you for the insights into this lesson. Great teachings of the principles of gratitude and obedience in adversity. I love the C.S. Lewis reference and the perfect application of the Nephites cyclical struggles from Helaman 12.
    Sincerely,
    Bro. C. Sorensen
    Greenville, S.C.

  2. Jer said

    Good thoughts. Thanks!

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