A good few years ago, for work, I would regularly visit patients who had recently suffered the effects of a life-changing illness or accident, rendering them in need of full-time care. I would meet them in various stages of psychological recovery, from shock, anger and then acceptance. These experiences taught me that the most important thing in times of challenge is not the obstacle but how we choose to deal with challenges. One experience was profound for me when I met with a lady who’d had severe disabilities for many years and communicated with me through a speech-generation device which dictated her typing. Just communicating was a huge effort, let alone her other physical challenges. At the end of our meeting, with tears in her eyes, through her speech machine, she shared with me that she felt her illness was a good thing to have happened. I was overcome with emotion too as I pondered how this lady could feel this way with how hard her life was.
This has taken me years of pondering and my own experience to learn for myself and I know it’s also linked to my faith in a God and trust in a greater purpose to life. But I have met with many with and without faith, still able to find meaning and purpose to what might at first feel hard, insurmountable or just downright unfair.
Orson Witney said “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”
Dieter Uchtdorf “We will endure this, yes. But we will do more than simply grit our teeth, hold on, and wait for things to return to the old normal. We will move forward, and we will be better as a result. In a way, we are seeds. And for seeds to reach their potential, they must be buried before they can sprout. It is my witness that though at times we may feel buried by the trials of life or surrounded by emotional darkness, the love of God and the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will bring something unimaginable to spring forth..”
I know that for me personally, I have grown more when buried and learnt most when challenged, despite perhaps not wishing the experience at first.