As a Mormon who has sat through many a Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School lesson I’ve heard over and over, “Trials make us stronger.” “Suffering refines your character.” I’ve always believed these words and took on challenges the way you’d approach a weight-lifting routine. Maybe I even got a bit cocky about my own spiritual muscles,
until life slammed me to the ground and revealed how weak I really am.
I never knew I could hurt so much. I never knew I could hate so much. I never knew I could swear and yell and cry and feel absolutely sure my aching heart would simply break.
And then I learned the true strength of my Savior and His Atonement.
Jesus Christ is my lifeline, my anchor, my iron rod. Only through Christ can I laugh with my children, chit-chat at church, stir soup for dinner. Without the strength of Christ, I would crumple to the ground, fractured, angry, stuck in a broken record of self-pity, unable to navigate daily life. And maybe I’d feel like a weakly specimen, but my sister– a.k.a. one of the finest women who ever lived– who went through much of this trial with me has also felt weak. We thought we were such strong, capable, nice women, until we were truly hurt.
I don’t mind feeling less strong, because I hope I’ve gained more empathy. If someone is hurting; I hurt with them. In the past, I was a little more judgmental, “Why is she whining about her husband traveling/grumpy child/difficult mother-in-law? That’s no big deal.” I now realize I only see the tip of the iceberg, without knowing all that lies below. Problems that appear simple on the surface are often more complicated and painful than we might imagine.
But I’m certainly not going to ask the Lord for any more trials. Although I love 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I’m not quite ready for verse 10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Ah, I’m really struggling to write this– it all seemed so much simpler when I was running this morning. How can I explain?
I treasure my vulnerability, my dependence upon Christ and I know through His strength I can do all things. But I won’t be leaping off any literal or figurative cliffs to test my faith and I would be just fine with run-of-the-mill normal life trials from now on.
Oh Lord, I know though art mighty, but I am weak.
Have you been through an experience that made you feel weak rather than strong?
Are you familiar with problems that appear small on the surface but are an iceberg beneath?
Would you willingly ask for more trials? Do you think putting ourselves in difficult situations shows faith?