President Henry B Eyring said the following at the April 2009 Conference:
With all the differences in our lives, we have at least one challenge in common. We all must deal with adversity. There may be periods, sometimes long ones, when our lives seem to flow with little difficulty. But it is in the nature of our being human that comfort gives way to distress, periods of good health come to an end, and misfortunes arrive.
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. Then our spirits will be changed. We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks, and thus be prepared for the trust of an endless posterity to teach and to lead through tests to be raised up to qualify to live forever in eternal life.
It is clear that for us to have that gift and to be given that trust, we must be transformed through making righteous choices where that is hard to do. We are prepared for so great a trust by passing through trying and testing experiences in mortality. That education can come only as we are subject to trials while serving God and others for Him.
President Eyring is telling us that when we have adversity, it gives us the opportunity to grow. To lean. To be better. We can’t do that without adversity.
2 Nephi 2:11 talks about the need for adversity. It says:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.
When some people face adversity, they complain and become bitter. They ask questions like "Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?"
But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive.
Rather than responding in this way, people should consider asking questions such as, "What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?"
The way we approach our trials often determines how well we will come through them. We need to remember what the purpose of trials and adversity are. That we are to use them to learn and to grow from, to make us better people.
The following is a story from the New Era in May of 1991.
It had been a tiring day at school. I was ready to call it quits after getting a C on an exam for which I had studied for weeks, having a fight with my best friend, and scraping my knee during gym.
“Hey,” I told myself, “you’ll be okay. Remember, endure to the end!” So I tried to put forth extra effort to have a good attitude.
The following day seemed worse. It all started with soggy cereal. Next, I couldn’t find my shoe and nearly missed the bus. When I came home, I realized that I had left my homework at school. I kept telling myself, “Hang in there; you’ll make it!”
Later that afternoon, my grandmother called to tell me that my great-grandmother had passed away. I could hardly believe it. I was devastated. I found myself crying nonstop. All I could think about was Great-grandma and her happy, smiling face. She cared about everyone, and I never heard her speak an unkind word. Everybody loved her. Some of my fondest memories are of her telling me Bible and Book of Mormon stories during trips.
Now she was gone.
The next day was difficult for me, and school was discouraging. We had a pop quiz that lowered my overall grade, and my eighth-grade band teacher got upset at us for no apparent reason. I tried praying for comfort, but it didn’t seem to help. I think it was because I was feeling sorry for myself.
When I came home from a Mutual activity that evening, I went into my room and locked the door. Then the tears came full force. Suddenly, I realized that if I wanted comfort, I needed to help myself a little. I opened my jewelry box and pulled out a piece of paper on which I had written three scriptures that could give comfort. The paper had been part of a Sunday School lesson a year earlier. I chose to read Doctrine and Covenants 50:5:
“But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life.”
I couldn’t have felt better or more calm. I decided that I would endure and have faith. That verse had a great impact on me. So now whenever I have troubles that seem to go on and never stop, my Doctrine and Covenants is the first thing I go to. I have read that verse over and over. Then I pray about it, and pretty soon things start to get better.
When she remembered the purpose of trials and adversity, it made it easier to live through. She knew why bad things were happening, and remembered to look for the life lesson behind it.
We all have trials in our lives. Bad things happen to good people all the time. But how we react to our trials and adversity is the important part. We must turn to Heavenly Father, and rely on him. That is how we get through the hard times, and come out a better person for it.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.