I am a freshman at Brigham Young University and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church). Last week in my religion class we studied about a story in the Book of Mormon. In this story an ancient prophet named Lehi, and his family are commanded to leave their home in Jerusalem and move into the wilderness. Eventually, God leads Lehi and his family through the wilderness and across the ocean to a Promised Land on the American continent. In many ways the journey this family experiences on their way to this Promised Land is similar to our experience in mortality on our way to Heaven.
Along their way God prepares this family for this Promised Land just as God is preparing us to return to live with Him. He prepares this family by giving them trials to help them learn and grow. For example, Lehi’s wife, Sariah experienced a great trial. After they had been traveling in the wilderness for many days, God commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain and bring back a scriptural record. This required them to travel through miles and miles of wilderness over several days. Sariah experienced a lot of difficulty with this commandment.
One can imagine how hard it would have been for a mother to allow her sons to travel miles and miles through the wilderness. I believe Sariah was an amazing woman, but she really struggled with this commandment. This struggle caused her to doubt Lehi and the commandment he had received from God. Eventually, however, her sons returned safely and she regained her faith, in fact, I believe this trial ultimately strengthened her faith and made her a better person, more prepared for the Promised Land. I found it so interesting that God individualized this trial for Sariah. He knew that, as a mother, this would be a very difficult thing for her, and so, out of love, and out of a desire to help her grow, God let her experience this trial. In a similarly individual way God tested the obedience and endurance of the other members of her family to prepare them for their arrival in the Promised Land. For example, one of Sariah’s sons, Nephi, would become a great prophet, who was largely responsible for the initiation of the records that would eventually be put together to form the Book of Mormon. It was through these individualized trials that God prepared Nephi for this pivotal role.
In our lives we are often tempted to ask, “Why me? Why do I have to go through this challenge?” I know that since coming here to BYU I have, with all the changes involved with going off to college, asked myself this many times. I think often God gives us trials that are particularly hard for us because He loves us and wants us to be able to return to Him. He knows that these types of trials are the ones that offer the greatest potential for growth. It is similar to a coach of an athletic team. A coach knows the weaknesses of each athlete on his team and he knows what the athletes need to do to reach their potential. Often that means doing the things that are the hardest for them. Just as these characters in the Book of Mormon were prepared for the Promised Land through individualized trials, so also does God give us trials to prepare us for heaven. As we go through life and experience these trials, we should view these trials in a more positive way, recognizing that they are opportunities for growth and that they help to fit us for Heaven.
This article was written by Zachary S., a student at Brigham Young University and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.