12 November 2006

Opposition Lesson

I gave the Relief Society lesson on opposition, trials, burdens, adversity, etc. today. I think it went pretty well. I finished a bit early and asked for some stories, which were really good. Then I thought of two more things to share and ended. It was great! Dad helped me get the DVD player hooked up so I could show this perfect part of Love Comes Softly, right after their barn burns down. I wish I had all the words that Clark says, but I don't. They are wonderful. He talks about how Missy could fall down when he's walking right next to her, but it doesn't mean he allowed it to happen, but he'll comfort her and help as much as he can. Anyway, here's the outline I made for the lesson. At the end, I added the two things I thought of.

Michelle’s Lesson:

Faithfully Enduring Trials and Opposition

Songs: 124-Be Still My Soul, 129-Where Can I Turn For Peace?

This week’s lesson is called, “Faithfully Enduring Trials and Opposition.” After I got off the phone with Lucy about teaching, I looked up the lesson and found the irony faintly amusing. I had just finished a week that was horrible. So many things went wrong. Between all sorts of scuffles at work, team members being transferred, trying to figure out why I have to pay money for insurance that I probably won’t use, upsetting my mom, finding that the good deals to China are sold out, discovering that no one likes the new training plan, re-delegating team responsibilities, dating difficulties, offending people without knowing it by helping them, wondering about the future, stress-caused stomachaches and headaches, I was a bit fed up and ready to start a new week. In sacrament meeting, I was happy to realize that I felt the first peace I had for a week and I knew that things would get better! Unfortunately, the next day I got to the point that I did something totally uncharacteristic of me: I left work early, walked to my dad’s work, and fell into his arms to cry for a while. I’m not a crier, but it had all added up and gotten worse that day.

So, I’ve thought a lot about this subject. I hope that you are okay with my personal stories, I always find that talks and lessons seem more applicable and interesting when real stories are told. There are several things that help us make it through trials.

One—There is a purpose to our suffering. Listen to this quotation from the lesson: “It is God’s purpose to suffer His Saints to be thoroughly tried and tested, so that they may prove their integrity and know the character of the foundation upon which they build.” So, we build integrity.

The second thing that also helps us through is also shown in that quotation—the Lord is suffering as he watches us suffer, but He knows that we would not prove our integrity without adversity. He loves us and will help as much as He can.

Sometimes we get angry when problems arise. We think that the Lord lets bad things happen. I was watching this movie last Saturday and found a part that I want to share with you.


Isn’t that good? It’s not God’s indifference that causes things to happen. They just happen. He knew they would and He wants to see how we grow from them. That doesn’t mean He’s unwilling to help.

Do you remember the Sunday that Grayden Goddard stood up to bear his testimony and couldn’t speak? Eventually Scott walked up to the stand and showed his love for Grayden by smoothing it over. I was so touched as I realized that the situation showed an example of a Father in Heaven stepping in when He sees we can’t go on.

Three—we have an elder brother who we can turn to for sympathy. Sometimes we forget that Christ suffered more than all of us. “No man descended lower than the Savior of the world.” His suffering included what we endure. “We have been persecuted, we have been afflicted, and we have passed through serious trials in our day; but the Lord has carried us through all these things.” Have you ever been diagnosed with something and you’ve gone to talk to someone who has the same ailment? It’s comforting to hear about it from someone else. Alma 7:11-12. Think back to a trial you had that is now completely gone. Can you not see how things worked out and you were guided and comforted? Does anyone want to share a short example?

Have you ever had someone say, “Well, everyone goes through that at one time or another.” It’s not very comforting, is it? Although our problems and reactions thereto are all different, we could not, according to President Woodruff, “feel at home in the other world in the company of the Prophets and Apostles who were sawn asunder, crucified, etc., for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Four—we have others we can rely on. The Holy Ghost has been given to us as a comfort and guide. We can turn to family. Sometimes I wonder if my sister Amy knows something is up when she sees on her caller ID that I’m calling. The Lord has put us into family units so that we can help each other through trials.

Five-we will not be tested beyond what we can bear. My dad talked to Ron and Heather Brown this week, and asked how Heather’s brother who had been in our ward for a while was doing. They shared that they had been talking and Heather and Ron remarked that they didn’t think they could survive the trials that the Schmidts were going through. To their surprise, the Schmidts said that they didn’t think they could handle the Browns’ problems. Our trials are different, but they fit us. Hugh B. Brown: Sometimes we have to be cut down so we can produce fruit.

Six-we will gain joy after each trial, and eventually glory if we react correctly. Has anyone noticed that once you make it through a particularly difficult trial, you can look back and feel happily triumphant? In high school, I was having a particularly hard time with a friend over the ordering of some rings we had sold for the junior class at Agora, the homecoming week market. After months and months of problems, it finally blew over. I felt worse for the experience at first—I had lost friends over something not my fault, and I was lonely and defeated. It wasn’t until the next school year that I realized that things had worked out. I had one really good friend, a job, and so many other things to be grateful for. I had made it through! I still wear this ring to remind myself that I made it. Every time I think about it again, I feel re-surprised that I didn’t just fall over and die. If I made it through that, there are plenty of other things I could make it through with the Lord’s help!

We need our fitted trials to someday join the inhabitants of the celestial kingdom. President Woodruff said, “It is impossible for the Saints of God to inherit a celestial kingdom without their being tried as to whether they will abide in the covenants of the Lord or not.”

Seven—I normally don’t find it very comforting (either) when someone tells me that I just need to have a better attitude. However, there are two examples of attitudes in difficult times that I want to share that really impress me. One night Wilford Woodruff and others were traveling at night during a huge storm. They were trying to cross a creek, but they kept getting lost and forced back. Suddenly a bright light shone around them and they were able to see the situation. They were able to find a house and figure out where the road they needed was. Now, it’s cool that a light provided by the Lord helped them, but the coolest thing to me is that President Woodruff said, “We then went on our way rejoicing, though the darkness returned and the rain continued.” What an attitude. The second example I have of attitude is right here in our midst. Who has ever come in to find Sister Lyon pouting? Who can imagine her stomping her foot in exasperation? I sat next to her a couple of weeks ago in Sunday School. I asked her how she was doing, and she said, “Well, old age is catching up to me. This arthritis . . .” but all of this came with the brightest smile you’ve ever seen. Many a time during sacrament meeting, I’ve looked out into the congregation and have seen her upturned face, happily anticipating every word of the speakers. What an example!

Eight-take it as a challenge. I am not sure this one will help very many other people besides me. I am definitely competition-oriented. In the lesson, we are reminded that Christ remained true and faithful to the Father. He prayed a great deal, He remained true to His calling as the Savior of the world, and He mourned over the sins of the world. We are encouraged to follow His example and stay true. Think of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. They were not afraid of their fate. “They had the truth and they knew it for themselves; and in the second place, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, sustained them as that power alone can in all the trying scenes through which the people of God are called to pass. And this is so to-day.” Do we not have the truth? Do we not know it for ourselves? Do we not have the Holy Ghost to comfort us? We can do as well as they did!

Have someone read the quotation on page 222: “

If those are the things that we need in order to faithfully endure through trials and opposition, I want to live up to those adjectives—I take them as a challenge!

Our reaction to trials will save us and give us the greatest happiness. Look at the big picture. This life is so short. On a timeline, it would be a dot. We can stand a dot, can’t we?

Did anyone notice that many of the talks in conference had to do with enduring trials? Elder Richard G. Scott said, “The challenges you face, the growth experiences you encounter, are intended to be temporary scenes played out on the stage of a life of continuing peace and happiness. Sadness, heartache, and disappointment are events in life. It is not intended that they be the substance of life. I do not minimize how hard some of these events can be. When the lesson you are to learn is very important, trials can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining focus of everything you do. Your life can and should be wondrously rewarding. It is your understanding and application of the laws of God that will give your life glorious purpose as you ascend and conquer the difficulties of life. That perspective keeps challenges confined to their proper place—stepping-stones to further growth and attainment.

The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. Your progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether you welcome the experience or not. Trust in the Lord. Ask to be led by the Spirit to know His will. Be willing to accept it. You will then qualify for the greatest happiness and the heights of attainment from this mortal experience.”

One of my favorite books is Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. In it, she wants to marry this man, but his family discourages the wedding because she is not rich. She is heartbroken, but she prays that she can have the Lord replace her love for him with the Lord’s love. That helps her later. She is able to forgive one of the Nazi soldiers who had run the concentration camp where she was.

Has anyone studied the elements of a story? First there’s character development and the climax. Without conflict, there’s no story. Can you imagine a story about a little girl named Michelle who was always happy and grew up happily and lived happily ever after? It’s not interesting. We need to have conflict in order to have interesting lives and to build integrity. I wrote in my testimony for the stake president that I was grateful for my challenges, and I realize that over and over again.

Bear testimony.

0 comments. I love comments!:

Post a Comment