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Recently I had one of those days where, by the end, I had a powerful witness that Satan is real. I saw his hand in the lives of the people around me—contention, confusion, abuse of power, justice gone awry. Often there are evidences of this in the world, but yesterday the evidence was in my world. And I didn’t like the feeling. But just as that thought came, so did another: The power of God is just as real. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church—I know that God lives. I know He is our Father in Heaven, and He loves us. And I know that through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, all things will be made right in the end.

Only as we feel God's love and fill our hearts with His love can we be trully happy. by John H. GrobergI live in a picturesque town in the mountains of Idaho. It’s easy to see the goodness of God in the beauty of nature. It can be more difficult to see His kindness in our lives—especially when the storms of adversities come. The Psalmist wrote, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalms 14:1). It is a foolish man, indeed, who doubts the power of God and refuses His help in a time of need. The knowledge I have of God, His nature and His plan are essential when the storms of life are raging.

The Nature of God is Love

 When the storms of life, rage, it’s easy to ask, “Where is God? How could He let this happen?” God, by His very nature, will never abandon us. Elder Henry B. Eyring, the first counselor in the First Presidency—with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ—answers this question:

That aching for an answer to “How could this happen?” becomes even more painful when those struggling include those we love. And it is especially hard for us to accept when those afflicted seem to us to be blameless. Then the distress can shake faith in the reality of a loving and all-powerful God. …

My purpose today is to assure you that our Heavenly Father and the Savior live and that They love all humanity. The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of Their infinite love. God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. [1]  

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the First Presidency and an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, explains the depth of Their love:

Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.… Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. …He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked. [2]  

When adversity seems to pile up around us—and around those we love—it is comforting to know that God is our Father in Heaven, and He loves us. He will always be there for us. In times of distress, we can turn to Him in prayer. We find answers to those prayers as we study the scriptures and serve others, becoming in tune with His Spirit.

Heavenly Father Has a Plan for Us

The other comforting thought in times of trial is that Heavenly Father has a plan for us. As the Father of our spirits, God did not send us to earth by accident. Heavenly Father created a plan that is large enough in scope for the entire human family and yet personally designed for each individual. Elder Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

From the limited perspective of those who do not have knowledge, understanding, or faith in the Father’s plan—who look at the world only through the lens of mortality with its wars, violence, disease, and evil—this life can seem depressing, chaotic, unfair, and meaningless. Church leaders have compared this perspective with someone walking into the middle of a three-act play. Those without knowledge of the Father’s plan do not understand what happened in the first act, or the premortal existence, and the purposes established there; nor do they understand the clarification and resolution that come in the third act, which is the glorious fulfillment of the Father’s plan. [3]  

In the first act, we lived in a pre-mortal realm as spirit children of our Father. He outlined His plan for us, explaining His part and our part. In the second act, He would send us to earth to gain mortal bodies—with all of the joys and sorrows and everything in between—as a test to see if we would obey His commandments in all things, no matter what. He knew we would commit sin, and no unclean thing can dwell in His presence (1 Nephi 10:21 in the Book of Mormon: Another testament of Jesus Christ and a companion scripture to the Bible). So He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to set the example for us to follow and to perform the Atonement, whereby we can be forgiven of our sins after we repent. The third act is the resolution of all things. If we have passed the test of mortality and proven ourselves faithful to God in all things, we can live with Him again.

But included in our Heavenly Father’s plan for us were trials and tribulations to test us, purify us and teach us the things that God wants us to learn. Elder Cook said:

There are many kinds of challenges. Some give us necessary experiences. Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan. The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God. [3]

In the midst of trials and hard times, it is helpful to understand that there is purpose in all things. Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, custom tailored to our personality and needs. That plan includes heartache and suffering as well as joy and gladness.

Several years ago, I hiked to a beautiful spot called Goose Creek Falls with the teenage girls in our ward (or congregation). As I was sitting there, looking at the beautiful scenery, I saw a large tree growing out of the rock at the side of the cliff. Not growing through a couple of boulders, but out of the bedrock. I was amazed at the resilience of the tree, and it brought to my mind some lines from a poem called “Good Timber,” by Douglas Malloch:

The tree that never had to fight

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out on the open plain

And always got its share of rain

Never became a forest king

But lived and died a scrubby thing. [4]

The beauty of the tree was not just in its leaves and certainly not in its gnarled trunk, but in its sheer determination to fight through the bedrock of the cliff and grow into a forest king. That is the purpose of trials in our lives. They are refining fires that build our character and solidify our faith in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, if we allow them to do so.

What Mormons know about God is this: He is real, He loves us and He has a plan for us. When we are in the midst of sore trials, and we can see Satan’s hand upon us, we just need to look up. Up to our Father in Heaven. He will always be there, and He will never leave us comfortless. He loves us with a perfect, pure love. His plan for us is perfect and pure. As we have faith in that knowledge, we can withstand the storms of life.

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