“If God Only Knew…”

[ 5 ] Comments

by Nick Galieti

Vox Efx (CC)

All people face trials or tests of the divinity that is within them. Trials can decrease or increase faith in God depending on how we respond to the trial—there is no neutral experience with trials. Trials invite us to come closer to Christ, or we distance ourselves based on how we respond to the trials.

Inherent in the process of developing or increasing faith is the need to overcome the challenges and obstacles the process may present with trust and perspective. People often search for a reason or purpose for the obstacles on their path to greater faith and happiness. While there are a variety of ways to approach these trials of faith, the typical approach sounds like, “If I can figure out why I am going through this trial, I might not have to go through it again.” Other times, trials occur in such a way that one may even question God’s wisdom, as if some injustice is being meted out—punishment in place of blessings. Some call this the “Why me?” paradigm.

Even those who are not seemingly going through major trials of faith experience to some lesser degree both internal and external influences that appear to slow spiritual progression or impede joy in some way that some life circumstances are considered a trial. Opportunities to serve others in some calling or capacity even fall into the category of “happiness deterrent,” or some kind of hurdle or trial to overcome in order to get to the “real” blessings of the gospel. Others simply look at trials and challenges as if God has forgotten them.

Yet, it is easy, while in the midst of a trial, to take the position, “If God only knew how hard it is to be faithful…”Most trials come when we forget who God is and that he loves us and wants the best for each of us. After all, what is a trial but a moment when our trust in God is called into question, or tested? If we trust in God and in his infinite love, there is no event, no loss, that cannot be resolved through the peace the atonement brings. Even the word “trial” implies that truth is being tested and judged. God is all knowing, and all powerful, to a degree beyond the comprehension of man.

If God only knew how hard it is to do home teaching…” “If God only knew how hard this trial is…” The way those sentences typically finish is, “then he would not be asking me to go through this.” Many often hear a similar phrase, “If God is so good, why do bad things happen to good people?” We try and project a finite reason to our circumstances in the midst of an infinite plan being unfolded. This type of situational questioning is natural, or common, and has therefore become acceptable.

Life experience is easier to manage when one can put the experience in a category or compartmentalize those events as good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable. Based on that judgement, we develop patterns or behaviors to either recreate the good and comfortable, or avoid steps that lead to bad and uncomfortable. Trials are most consistently and conveniently categorized as bad, or at least uncomfortable, and therefore undesirable. When we categorize this way, we seek to avoid trials or at least affix some kind of blame for their existence. Avoiding trials is as productive as trying to avoid breathing; and blaming others for our trials, including God, does little, if anything, to see them pass.

Bicycle Race

Tony Fischer (CC)

What God asks us to consider is to find the utility of all the experiences we are blessed to have. Whether good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable, we can trust in God that there is purpose and a utility in the experience. Herein lies the challenge: Finding merit in what we often refer to as “trials.” Due to the nature of these experiences and the nearly infinite circumstances that form each life and each perspective of each event, it would be grossly impractical to offer sweeping advice on how to best accomplish this end. However, the principles of the gospel remain universally true. When in doubt, trust God; when in need of answers, pray to God; when we are in times of need; serve God.

With trust in God comes answers, along with purpose and meaning. Trust is patient. Time and time again, trials will come. We can strive to let God put the experience to use where it best serves our lives.

  • If you have had an “If God only knew…” experience, what helped you shift your mindset to strengthen your trust in God?

5 Responses to “If God Only Knew…”

  1. HighDesertGal says:

    Thank you. I needed this reminder today. Asking why…so many times. Was I a bad mother? Why is my son inactive after serving a mission. Why am I so lonely and sad. Yes, I needed this this morning.

  2. jendoop says:

    It is such an animal instinct to think of trails the way you’ve described – its as simple a reaction as pulling our hand away from a hot stove. I love that God tells us we are more than animals, that we can control this reaction with his help, to realize that trials are not a hot stove, but a classroom experience.

    Coincidentally, my abnormal psych class addressed this. Seeing trials as opportunities instead of threats is a characteristic of a well adjusted person. Working my way there…

  3. Cheryl says:

    This reminds me of Elder Cook’s talk “Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time” (from 2008). God already KNOWS, so why am I fighting against Him so much? Why do I think I am wiser as to my mortal journey?

    • This is how I feel about it – whenever I feel like I am alone in a trial, or “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen! Nobody knows my sorrows!” (I am imagining myself singing from inside a cage made from the ribs of some animal… ahem. Back to the point) I have to try to remind myself the God does know.

      Now if I could just remember that more consistently… especially on the hardest days when I feel the most alone.

  4. Paul says:

    I’m not sure I fully agree with this sentence: “Most trials come when we forget who God is and that he loves us and wants the best for each of us.” Clearly our perception of trials may change dependent upon our faith and understanding, and maybe that’s your’ point.

    We have a CEO in my company who ALWAYS refers to business challenges as opportunities. But of course business challenges rarely have an eternal component.

    I think of Elder Maxwell’s personal application of the lesson the Lord taught Joseph in Liberty Jail, that all these things give one experience. When Elder Maxwell was diagnosed with Leukemia, he received (after his own personal searching) this answer: I have given you this disease so that you might teach with authenticity (my paraphrase — I don’t have his biography at hand).

    At the same time, Elder Packer teaches that the question “Why?” can be a frustrating one because it may not have an answer in this life. Instead, he suggests, we may do well to focus on “What Next?”

    So, “finding merit” (your words) may not be the same as understanding why.

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