Question: When we have difficulties in life while in the Lord’s service, is it a sign that God disapproves of the work we are doing?
Answer: As Paul’s ministry clearly shows, difficulties in our lives are not a sign that God disapproves of the work we are doing. In fact, sometimes it is during the difficulties that we feel His support most strongly.
10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain (the commander of the Roman soldiers), fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them (afraid they would tear Paul apart physically), commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him (the Savior appeared to him), and said, Be of good cheer, Paul (your life will be preserved): for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome (you will yet testify of me in Rome, like you have done here in Jerusalem).
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By Elder Ulisses Soares, Of the Presidency of the Seventy:
Dear brothers and sisters, I want to begin my message today by testifying that I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of God in our day. His counselors in the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are also, in fact, prophets, seers, and revelators. They represent the Lord Jesus Christ and have the right to declare His mind and will as it is revealed to them. I testify that there is safety in following their counsel. The Lord is inspiring them to emphasize strengthening our faith in Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in His Atonement so that we will not waver as we face the challenges of our day.
In the Book of Mormon, we read about a man named Ammon who was sent from the land of Zarahemla to the land of Lehi-Nephi to inquire concerning his brethren. There he found King Limhi and his people, who were in bondage to the Lamanites. King Limhi was encouraged by the things Ammon shared with him about his people in Zarahemla. His heart was filled with such great hope and joy that he gathered his people to the temple and said:
“Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God. …
“… If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, … and serve him with all diligence of mind, … he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”
The faith of King Limhi’s people was so profoundly affected by the words of Ammon that they made a covenant with God to serve Him and to keep His commandments, regardless of their difficult circumstances. Because of their faith, they were able to devise a plan to escape from the hands of the Lamanites.
Brothers and sisters, please consider the importance of the invitation King Limhi gave to his people and its relevance to us. He said, “Lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God.” With these words, Limhi invited his people to look to the future through the eyes of faith; to replace their fears with the optimism of hope born of faith; and to not waver in placing their trust in God regardless of circumstance.
Mortal life is a period of testing where we will be proven to see if we will do all things that the Lord our God shall command us. This will require unwavering faith in Christ even in times of great difficulty. It will require that we press forward with steadfast faith in Christ, being led by the Spirit and trusting that God will provide for our needs...
Brothers and sisters, as we contemplate the strength and hope that we can receive from the Savior, we do have reason to lift up our heads, rejoice, and press forward in faith without wavering, “for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. … A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
King Limhi likewise urged, “Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, … serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”
Listen to the Savior’s own words as He entreats us:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. …
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. …
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
God blesses us according to our faith. Faith is the source of living with divine purpose and eternal perspective. Faith is a practical principle that inspires diligence. It is a vital, living force manifest in our positive attitude and desire to willingly do everything that God and Jesus Christ ask of us. It takes us to our knees to implore the Lord for guidance and to arise and act with confidence to achieve things consistent with His will...
Brothers and sisters, if we are not rooted by steadfast trust in God and the desire to serve Him, the painful experiences of mortality can lead us to feel as though we are burdened by a heavy yoke; and we can lose the motivation to live the gospel fully. Without faith, we will end up losing the capacity to appreciate those designs of our God regarding the things that will happen later in our life.
In these moments of trial, the adversary—who is always on the lookout—tries to use our logic and reasoning against us. He tries to convince us that it is useless to live the principles of the gospel. Please remember that the logic of the natural man “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.” Remember that Satan “is an enemy [of] God, and [he] fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth [us] to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.” We must not allow him to deceive us; for when we do, we falter in our faith and lose the power to obtain God’s blessings.
If we are steadfast and do not waver in our faith, the Lord will increase our capacity to raise ourselves above the challenges of life. We will be enabled to subdue negative impulses, and we will develop the capacity to overcome even what appear to be overwhelming obstacles. This was what enabled King Limhi’s people to make a spectacular escape from their Lamanite captivity.
Brothers and sisters, I invite you to place all of your trust in God and in the teachings of His prophets. I invite you to renew your covenants with God, to serve Him with all your heart, regardless of the complex situations of life. I testify that by the power of your unwavering faith in Christ, you will become free of the captivity of sin, of doubt, of unbelief, of unhappiness, of suffering; and you will receive all of the promised blessings from our loving Heavenly Father.
I testify that God is real. He lives. He loves us. He listens to our prayers in our moments of happiness and in our moments of doubt, sadness, and desperation. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the Redeemer....I say these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 119; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 67; Excerpts from General Conference, April 2017, “Confide in God Unwaveringly,” By Elder Ulisses Soares, Of the Presidency of the Seventy.