Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We are facing many challenges in our world today. Hardship and misfortune are always present in life, but their significance diminishes when one is focused on God’s Kingdom. Of utmost importance is our response to these trials. If our priority is to do God’s will, God will be with us. One of the greatest adversities in my life has become my greatest testimony of God’s love.
When my son was three years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized two hours from our home. Early the next morning we drove the two hours to the children’s hospital, with only God knowing the exact time of our arrival. As we walked up the steps into the hospital, two well-dressed men were ahead of us. They opened the doors for us, then appeared again minutes later at my son’s room. They were elders of the church that a member of our branch had arranged to administer to my son.
Interestingly, a year before I had been impressed to read the Bible cover to cover. To assist me in this task, I signed up for a monthly study guide. Although the study guide started in January, I elected to start in June with the Book of Psalms. By the time my son was diagnosed almost a year later, I was ending in the Book of Job, where the Lord provided me the answers before I even heard the questions from others. As further testimony, my son was the first patient where the Oncologist never need to delay a chemo treatment due to illness. At every appointment, the Oncologist said, “God is doing a good job on you.” My son is now an adult, a college graduate, and an elder in the church.
I learned beyond any doubt that the Lord walks not only with me, but ahead of me. He prepared and cleared a path that I had only to follow. We must always look for God’s hand in all that happens in life, both good and bad. Although God does not do bad things to you, He does mitigate those events. The mitigation of these events are the blessings we receive. The key is preparation to receive the blessings in humbleness and thanksgiving. This preparation comes from the preparatory gospel. The preparatory gospel helps you to move closer to Christ and prepares you to accept and receive even greater blessings from God. The preparatory gospel builds strong faith and strong faith endures to the end. It is important to remember the preparatory gospel comes through the Aaronic Priesthood.
When faced with challenges and adversities where do you turn? I turn to God, I turn to Job, and I turn to Psalms 91. These have carried me through many trials and difficulties. You likely have other scriptures which help you. Scripture study is one of the best ways to open the communication between you and God. I encourage you to make time to open your scriptures as individuals and as a family to study the words of God. If you are uncertain where to begin, I suggest the Book of Job. The first few chapters give us the instructions on what our proper response should be to challenges presented in our world today. I am always in awe of Job, how he praises God immediately after losing so much.
We to need to praise the Lord by recognizing the blessings we have received, even in the current pandemic. One blessing many are not aware of is the number of isolated saints who have been blessed by ministry received due to the services being transmitted via the Internet. Many who are isolated due to infirmities and distance from others can now be part of a group worship experience. Another blessing is that of time freed from unnecessary distractions allowing time spent with family members or time available to study the scriptures. Some are blessed by protection from the sickness and others are healed. The fact you are even reading this letter says that you have received a blessing. What other blessings have you received? Do they not testify of God’s presence in your life?
Seeing the activity of God in our lives during times of challenge and adversity tends to strengthen our trust in God. Is not trust in God an act of faith? Challenge and adversity are trials of faith that either increase or decrease our faith. Those who fail to see the blessings of the trials will lose faith, while those who perceive the blessing will grow in faith. As your faith grows, so too does your ability to endure to the end. I encourage you to daily look for the blessings, both big and small that your faith might grow as the mustard tree. May God bless you as you move forward in faith.
Brother George Baldwin,
Elder’s Quorum President