We are living in difficult times, the Covid-19 virus is still raging around the world and there have been over 373,000 deaths world-wide. It is difficult to tell if the number of cases is slowing or if it is a temporary decline. The last time the world experienced a pandemic like this was 100 years ago during the influenza pandemic. During that time one third of the world’s population was infected with the virus and 50 million people died.
It is easy to understand why people question if there is a God, then why would he allow these things to happen. Why do bad things happen, especially to good people? Suffering is part of mortality. In Abraham 3:25 we read: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”. This life is a test to see if we can be faithful and obedient to the things that God asks us to do.
While the scriptures do say that some things God does inflict on us, i.e. the flood, but suffering is also caused by our choices, the choices others make, and by natural disasters. Regardless of where our suffering comes from; the choices we make in how we react to the difficult times will show if we have faith in Jesus’ ability to deliver us and heal our wounds or not. Remember the words that the Lord spoke to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Liberty Jail: “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).
There are two experiences in the Book of Mormon that teaches us about suffering. Remember the people of Limhi that were in bondage to the Lamanites due to their wickedness during the reign of King Noah. Deliverance was hopeless so they tried to defeat the Lamanites in battle and were defeated three times. After the third defeat, they were so humbled that they “submitted themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies. And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.” (Mosiah 21:13-14). They finally were delivered after they had humbled themselves and submitted to God’s will.
The other group was Alma and the people of the church that fled from King Noah. They also were brought into bondage by the Lamanites, but their experience was different than the people of Limhi. Alma and his people were humble and tried to follow the commandments of God. We read that:
“the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 24:13-15)
Like these people in the Book of Mormon, we can respond to our difficult times by relying on our strength and will power to get through it and finally be forced to be humble, or we can humbly submit and rely on the Lord for deliverance. The burdens of Alma and his people were not taken away, but the Lord strengthened them so that the burdens were made light.
Mortality brings with it lessons in many forms, all of them are meant to give us experience and help us grow. As we go through life’s challenges, we are made stronger and gain understanding that will help us as we minister to others. As we humble ourselves and allow others to minister to us, we learn to love and be submissive to the Lord’s will for us.
Even the Lord’s disciples had to learn to trust in the Lord. One time when they were on a ship a storm arose and they thought that the ship would sink. The Lord was in back asleep and they woke him saying “master, carest thou not that we parish”. Mark says that Christ rose and rebuked the wind saying: “peace be still”, then he asked the disciples: “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:36-40)
This current pandemic will pass, and we will be able to go back to work, to church, and to social events. How we get through this difficult time will show how much faith and trust we have in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. As we trust in the Lord and his plan for us, we can have peace in this world and in the world to come.
Your comments and questions are welcome.