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Methuselah is not only the name of the longest-living prophet of the Old Testament but also the name of one of the oldest living trees in the world. Located in California, USA, this bristlecone pine tree is close to 5,000 years old.

Bristlecone pine trees grow on high, craggy cliffs up to 10,000 feet in elevation. They endure a climate of harsh winds and little rainfall. Their roots fasten like anchors deep in the soil to soak up the few available nutrients. When bristlecones grow at lower elevations, they don’t survive to the age and strength of the cliff-dwelling variety.

Like bristlecone pines, we can also grow stronger in difficult conditions, if our faith is firmly rooted in the soil of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of us would not raise our hands and ask for extra helpings of adversity, but with the Savior’s help, we can learn to face trials with faith and come out stronger for it.

Why Do We Have to Endure Trials?

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, speaks aloud to the Lord: “I know, I know—we are the chosen people. But once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”1

Like Tevye, we might feel singled out and wonder why we have been “chosen” for trials. But adversity is no respecter of persons. Hardship is a natural result of living on earth. Our bodies can get injured, become mentally and physically ill, and die. We may be treated unjustly. Our own poor choices can also bring suffering.

Why is hardship part of a loving Heavenly Father’s plan? Lehi explained one reason to his son Jacob: “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). In other words, there could not be good without the contrast of bad. We could not experience joy if we did not also experience pain.

Sometimes our Father allows the wicked to harm the righteous in order to justly bring punishment upon the wicked (see Alma 14:10–11). And often He allows us to experience challenges to help us grow. Lehi assured Jacob that God would “consecrate [his] afflictions for [his] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2).

We are not meant to face these trials alone. If we follow the Lord and the teachings of His prophets, we can draw on His strength to endure trials.

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