Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye, scholar, author and historian, died on April 23, 2024, at the age of 44.

Many members of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints are likely familiar with Inouye’s work as a historian for the Church History Department. She co-edited “Every Needful Thing: Essays on the Life of the Mind and Heart” with Kate Holbrook, who also passed away from cancer. I imagine their reunion was ebullient.

The last book she released while still earthside is “Sacred Struggle: Seeking Christ on the Path of Most Resistance.” Terryl Given called it “a great-souled work by a great-souled woman.” It’s a “treatise on trials,” said “Faith Matters” in its conversation with her last December.

“Struggle,” she writes, “is a feature, not a bug.” It’s easy to be drawn to – and too often we are – drawn to Satan’s plan, a life in which we can avoid trouble and trials, a world without cancer, car accidents, abuse or betrayal. Instead, she reminds us that “By divine design, the world is big and scary. Gravity yanks us down to hard landings. There are droughts and floods, pandemics and broken bones. Human relationships are a source of both joy and pain. Frequently, we misunderstand each other. We cause each other unspeakable suffering.”

Trying to have a trouble-free life would “miss the whole point of life,” she writes. “The purpose of life is to explore opposition and contrasts, and to struggle to love without pride or selfishness. Challenging and even devastating incidents are not a waste of time or effort because they stretch our experience to fit the reality of the cosmos as it really is.”

And yet, “having experienced suffering, one develops power over it—not the power to stop it, or take it away from someone you love, but to know its sorrows fade. Having experienced suffering, one receives power from it—the power to share others’ burdens and be humble, to see one’s own burdens and be kind.”

“On the other side of suffering,” she writes, “is strength.”

Suffering can develop empathy and compassion and seeing our fellow earthly travelers are sisters and brothers, rather than people who once seemed inexplicable, broken and “tainted with ruin.” In fact, she says “All true human history is mostly a hot mess. Latter-day Saints believe the hot mess is the whole point.”

Inouye spends a good deal of time in “Sacred Struggle” writing about our covenant relationship with God and how that relationship puts us in covenant relationships with each other. She acknowledges the difficulties we often encounter. “Loving our neighbors is a contact sport with a high rate of injuries,” she says.

She invites us to welcome and recognize “spiritual biodiversity,” just as we welcome and recognize the biodiversity in the natural world. We forget sometimes that there is truth to be found among all people and in all places. She quotes President Dallin H. Oaks, who in turn was quoting Orson F. Whitney who observed: “‘God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of his great and marvelous work. . . . It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people.’ As members of the restored Church, we need to be more aware and more appreciative of the service of others.”

She reminds her readers that as we pray for the Gospel to be shared around the world, and as missionary work expands, we are not going to see more and more people just like us, but rather, more and more people different from us.

Inouye urges us to remember that our experience is not a universal experience. We can be driving in the same van on a mountain road, for example, and the driver will be having a very different experience than a person in the back seat of the van. Their nauseating experience is no less real than the driver’s experience of being in control and seeing beautiful vistas.

“In our struggle to get to where Christ was and is,” she says, “the path of most resistance,” is one where we must make “hard, demanding, uncomfortable choices to reach out to those at the margins.” Following Christ, who Himself took the path of greatest resistance, gives us courage to tackle the challenges of living in this world, with all its difficulties. And, our “covenant loyalty to each other has the power to overcome the forces constantly driving us apart. We must exercise our agency to choose each other and honor our divine siblingship, over and over again.”

I will echo her final thoughts in “Sacred Struggle.” May we be repairers of the breach, restorers of paths to dwell in.

She will be so missed.