Hello Everyone! I hope everyone’s week was good! Everything is going well here! We are doing lots of tracting because we still have like no investigators! But sometimes that’s how the mission goes! We are still working with Elmer (Our Amish friend!) We love working with him and the senior couple answered some questions he had about the Book of Mormon so he is reading it! Last Tuesday we had Interviews with President and Sister Daines! I loved being about to get to know them better! They are wonderful people and I am excited to serve with them!
My email today is just some thoughts that I have had on my mind for the last little while so here we go!
Sometimes when we have trials come upon us, we have the tendency to wonder what it is we did wrong or what we did to deserve them. While being out here I have seen that a lot of times, they come not because of anything on our part but of our benefit! I have three potential reasons for trials that are often overlooked.
Now I know a lot of you are thinking "How in the world can a trial protect me?!" Well humor me for a minute as I recall a situation that occurred to a friend of mine a year or so ago. My friend was out one day with some kids she was babysitting. When they were ready to return home, she could not find her keys to her car. With the kids becoming more and more restless and hungry from a long day, she expressed her frustration to me that even after praying she still couldn’t find her keys. During the conversation I pointed out that maybe it was not safe for her to travel home with the kids. She eventually found her keys and made it safely home. A few days later she told me that she felt strongly that, that was the reason for her not being able to find her keys.
For this point I would like to quote the story Elder D. Todd Christofferson told about President Hugh B. Brown:
"President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”
Years later, President Brown was a field officer in the Canadian Army serving in England. When a superior officer became a battle casualty, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, and he was summoned to London. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. The commanding general said in essence, “You deserve the appointment, but I cannot give it to you.” What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:
“I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall.
“And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …
“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”"
Often times trials or afflictions come to help prepare us or "line us up" so God can bless us far greater that we can ever imagine. For example, President Brown later became an Apostle and a Counselor in the First Presidency!
3. Self Improvement
This point can closely be connected but I feel like it should be pointed out. Sometimes trials come to help us better ourselves. Sometimes they are a consequence for our actions but nonetheless they help us learn and to grow! Whatever the reason may be, the Lord has promised us that we will never be given a trial we cannot overcome! (See Corinthians 10:3)
I know that if we turn to God that we can be blessed and helped through our trials and I know that every trial we receive is for our good! I love you all and I am so grateful to be serving a mission! I love you and miss you all and I hope all is well! I am always praying for you!
Elder Parker Tyler | Ohio Columbus Mission | 2014-2016