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I hope this day seems a blessing to you. Whether you are at the top of the mountain of joy, or in a deep ravine of difficulty, each day we are granted breath to live, learn, and understand more about ourselves, the Plan, and about others – there are blessings to obtain.
When it’s nighttime, the stars shine brightly. What a thoughtful and beautiful reminder that- even in darkness- there is light to guide us.
All of this is to say that we can CHOOSE to accept the great plan of growth and focus on the truths that are still there to learn. We come to more greatly value the good times (knowing there “must needs be opposition in all things”) as we humbly gain insight that only pain and disappointment can teach us.
If this sounds like a ‘downer’, please stick with me. There are good things on the horizon! Here are a few beautiful phrases to help us recognize and appreciate the blessings that come through sorrow:
1. “People often get themselves into trouble- not by trying to make themselves miserable, but by looking for the right things in the wrong way.” (Richard L. Evans) What a wonderful set of words! Lots to think about, many directions for our minds to wander and capture more wisdom. The sorrow sheds like an old coat when we see the error, and make correction. Wonderful!
2. The frigid nature of difficulty need not keep us frozen. There is faith and hope, there are little tiny steps we can take, there is the ongoing promise of the Lord who took upon Himself not only all our sins, but all our sorrows and sickness, and every hard thing. For two reasons:
Love is the first. The second is so He can carry us, or hold our hand, or put His Holy arm around our feeble shoulder, and allow us to lean on Him for strength that we, ourselves, do not have. We can ‘thaw’ in His perfect love and light. And move onward.
3. “Sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and heart in order to “give place, “ expanded space for later joy.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell
I know this one for myself – in my extremities. There are ways of finding and capturing joy that we never imagine until the need is great. The little nooks and crannies of the heart and mind that may be hidden away in us receive light shining on them! There they are! Little spaces that may be very deep and important – ready to be filled with quiet joys and genuine gratitude for things we otherwise may never think twice about. This is a great and beautiful truth!
4. Hugh Nibley once spoke about being joyful. In his words he spoke of Christ the one who has borne our sorrows, and is acquainted with grief that we need not be. He said, “If we remain gloomy”… (please note here again- when harsh things happen in our lives, our heart may temporarily feel broken and overcome with dark sorrow. His differentiation is the “keeping” of that sorrow and gloom instead of giving it away to the Lord)…. Okay, let me start again “If we remain gloomy after what he did for us, it is because we do not accept what he did for us. If we suffer…there is no need for it if we only believe in him.”
I’m not saying this is easy. I understand his words, though; and bear from my heart to yours that if we can come back around- as quickly as possible- to Him, then we will receive the balm of Gilead. We will find strength and faith and hope. We will find blessings.
5. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jesus’ own words (John 14:27) quietly lead us to understand that if we want real peace – the kind that can withstand this mortal world and get us through the tough times – comes from Him. And it doesn’t show up like worldly things show up. We kneel down, we pray upwards, we go deep inward to ask questions and seek new ways of living when our lives are altered. We shake off the natural man and ask – ask! – for ways to know things of a higher level, and to be closer to Him so He can better fill our troubled hears will peace and faith.
6. Lorenzo Snow said, “We have been sent into the world to do good to others; and in doing good to others we do good to ourselves…
When you find yourself a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself.” He suggest we go to that person and try to help remove from him or her the trouble that sits on their heart. Key to this service are his words, “…try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you.”
So – Big Hint here – By shaking off the sadness that sits upon our own hearts, we can ask for the greater measure of inspiration to help the other person. Then he says, “ First thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord us upon you, and everything seems illuminated.”
Beautiful! Nowhere does he suggest our own trials disappear. But by being illuminated by the Spirit of the Lord, and reaching out to someone else in need, we feel lighter and the burden of sorrow is- in very deed- lifted.
Life is hard. Most of us go through a school of hard knocks. We may feel a bit battered and very tired – weary- from time to time. Yet, faith whispers, “You can do this. The very blessings of heaven will help you do this.” And because we know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ; because we believe in better days coming and in silver linings; because we’re willing to stop being self-consumed and notice so many others who are going through hard refining processes —
We can smile. We can grow. We can delight in the teachings.
We have a choice: We can let our troubles make us gloomy, overwhelmed (not for just a moment – which is perfectly normal – but ongoing), pessimistic, discouraged, and isolated. We can also choose to see the silver lining in the dark clouds, to keep the positive attitude about which President Hinckley so often spoke, to rise above the present trials because we KNOW they are temporary. We can determine to rise above the difficulty and find comfort in the Savior’s love. We can look for the good and beautiful things. And peace will come to our hearts. God bless us to never give up, and to seek for the blessings that accompany each severe life lesson. Every single time.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergrad studies were in musical theater, and her Masters degree is in communications. She has taught for CES programs for almost 30 years. She began by speaking for the National Press Bureau speakers association. A Billboard award winning songwriter, her favorite use of music is as a tool to teach. In addition to three solo albums in the Christian market, she co-wrote Women at the Well with Kenneth Cope and My Beloved Christ with Randy Kartchner. Her Facebook page Goodness Matters and her website www.goodnessmatters.com is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ.
She & her husband have 8 children & 8 grandchildren. She serves as Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves in their ward bishopric. Vickey, from Virginia, believes the adage ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.” She loves flowers, brownies, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets. Oh…and the Hallmark Channel.