Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

How to maintain hope in the midst of affliction

Published: Saturday, Dec. 28, 1996

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One of the key lessons in life is learning how to handle affliction and remain hopeful through it. Here are some ideas that I have found helpful:

- Don't become absorbed in feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, pray to know what the Lord wants you to learn from your afflictions. In understanding what you are to learn, it may help to study carefully your patriarchal blessing, to receive a priesthood blessing or to spend extra time in scripture study. Talks from general conferences also often address the subject of understanding afflictions.- Try to radiate happiness. Avoid the pitfall of saying to yourself, "I am justified in being crabby or unfriendly because of my troubles." Instead, look at your afflictions as an opportunity to learn to be cheerful in spite of your troubles.

- Share your feelings with close friends or family members. You don't want to burden others with complaints; however, someone who will listen and understand can help you feel better.

- Seek to comfort and serve others. Your adversity can make you more understanding of the adversities of others. Use this perspective to serve others with troubles and to listen to them and to help lift them up.

- Seek solace in sacred music. The right type of music can soothe your soul, and it can help you keep a spiritual perspective in your afflictions.

- Focus on the Savior. He understands your adversity and will not let you suffer any more than is necessary for your maximum eternal happiness. He is one friend you can always count on.

- Pray; find a private place and ask for the Holy Ghost to help lift you up. One of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to comfort you. The Holy Ghost can bring you cheerfulness that you can in turn radiate to others. - David A. Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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What we did:

Life is a school

I have faced many afflictions in my life. When afflictions come, we must remember that life is a school, and our Heavenly Father blesses us with learning. If we see affliction as a positive experience, it is good. If we see it as negative, it becomes a millstone and drags us down.

I was in a car accident last winter. My first thought was, "Why?" My second was, "What am I to learn?" Immediately, I concentrated on the learning and didn't feel the pain as much.

I have since listed two pages of blessings that came out of that affliction. I thank my Heavenly Father that He feels me worth teaching. - Ruby Cone, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Lord is near

The Lord is always near. This is especially true in times of affliction, though it may not seem obvious.

In times of affliction in my life I have noticed small kindnesses or little extra blessings sent by Heavenly Father as if to say, "I'm here. I know what you're going through. You can do this." Watching for those little special gifts can give hope in a difficult time.

Also, trying to keep the perspective that someday we'll look back and see clearly all we've learned and how we grew can keep us "enduring to the end" of a difficult trial.

In addition, seeing people suffering their own trials - usually worse - makes it possible for us to keep going.

Counting our blessings can also help keep us from being consumed in the rough part of life and remind us of what is good. - Cathy Borchardt, Norcross, Ga.

Staggering odds

On Dec. 30, 1994, I was critically injured in a head-on collision. I broke more than 20 bones and had serious internal injuries. I went on to also develop a deadly lung condition and a rare blood disease. During my two months in intensive care, I struggled for my life against staggering odds.

Since the accident, I have spent 150 days in the hospital, had 20 plus surgeries, received blood products from 765 people and required 16 months of intense physical therapy. I've always considered myself an optimist, but the ups and downs I experienced put my positive attitude to the test.

For three years before the accident, I was the ward Young Women president. During the General Young Women Meeting March 26, 1994, Virginia H. Pearce, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, gave a talk that had a tremendous impact on me. She urged the young women of the Church to remember three things:

- Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are in charge of this earth.

- They know us and love us.

- There is a plan for each of our lives.

I felt strongly inspired to repeat and emphasize these three ideas to the young women of my ward, and did so several times. Little did I know at the time the impact Sister Pearce's words would have in my own life. Although I had many wonderful, competent doctors doing all they could to save my life, it was divine intervention and priesthood blessings that ultimately tipped the scale in my favor.

Finally, as a victim of another's mistake, I often wondered why something this terrible happened to me. Knowing that there is indeed a plan for my life and that both good and bad experiences play a part in leading me home have truly given me hope through my adversity. - Susan Reesor, West Valley City, Utah

Mission on earth

Two years ago I lost my beautiful daughter in a car accident. At the time, I did not feel like living myself. I finally did come to realize I still had a mission on earth with my good wife and two sons. I was never close to doing anything to harm myself, but was very depressed.

The Lord will always provide strength in some way to help us in our time of need, if we allow Him to do so. - Ashley Plumb, Tampa, Fla.

Attend temple

One thing that has helped me during affliction is regular temple attendance. I'm a temple worker in the Washington Temple, and working with other temple workers has helped. I haven't necessarily talked with them about my trials, but they've been very supportive and very "motherly" to me.

Most important, the temple is a chance to get away from the cares of the world. I find great peace and great strength there. Attending the temple is a respite from my cares. A few years ago, I was living in Los Angeles, Calif., when there was a major earthquake. The world seemed in an upheaval. Soon after the quake, I went to the Los Angeles Temple, and that was the only time during that period of time that I found peace.

In addition, I've had good priesthood leadership. I've had bishops who have provided excellent counsel, and who have been good friends. - Shannon Baird, Alexandria, Va.

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How to checklist:

1 Focus on the Savior; pray, study the scriptures, attend temple regularly.

2 Be positive, learn from affliction; don't feel sorry for self.

3 Learn compassion; reach out, be aware of others' trials, radiate happiness.

4 Count your blessings; realize you have mission in life.

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WRITE TO US:

Jan. 11 "How to enjoy the blessings of the priesthood without a worthy priesthood holder in the home."

Jan. 18 "How to discipline your children in a positive manner."

Jan. 25 "How to magnify your Church calling."

Feb. 1 "How to make your spouse a priority despite a busy family life."

Feb. 8 "How to foster unity in a ward or branch with cultural diversity."

Feb. 15 "How to survive temporally, emotionally during period of unemployment."

- Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to be more patient with your children," "How to foster positive communication in your family."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Churchnews@desnews.com. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.