Tribulation

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Question: Can tribulations help us develop patience, experience, and hope?

Answer: As we pass through this mortal probation, we accrue many experiences. It is in these experiences that we are often beset with problems, challenges, adversities, afflictions, trials, and tribulations. The Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, after a period of great afflictions, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).

Orson F. Whitney 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 and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.” (Excerpts from “After Much Tribulation Come the Blessings” by Adney Y. Komatsu, October 1979)

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Romans 5:3-5

3 And not only so (JST “And not only this”), but we glory in tribulations also (we rejoice that we have challenges here in mortality): knowing that tribulation (heart-wrenching experiences) worketh patience (develops patience, perseverance, in us);

4 And patience, (develops into) experience; and experience, (develops) hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed (keeps us from quitting in our efforts to live the gospel); because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (the Holy Ghost bears witness to us of God’s love ad encourages us to continue striving to live righteously).

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Joseph B. Wirthlin, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

One of the greatest sentences to fall upon human ears comes from the Book of Mormon: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25). That sentence captures the major possibilities of life. Let me add, we will have genuine joy and happiness only as we learn patience...

One of the clearest explanations of why we need patience to endure the trials of life is set forth by Nephi in these striking words: “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one. …

“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away” (2 Ne. 2:11, 13).

The Apostle Paul gave the purpose of patience in his epistle to the Saints in Rome: “We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

“And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Rom. 5:3–4)...

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A certain amount of impatience may be useful to stimulate and motivate us to action. However, I believe that a lack of patience is a major cause of the difficulties and unhappiness in the world today. Too often, we are impatient with ourselves, with our family members and friends, and even with the Lord. We seem to demand what we want right now, regardless of whether we have earned it, whether it would be good for us, or whether it is right. Some seek immediate gratification or numbing of every impulse by turning to alcohol and drugs, while others seek instant material wealth by questionable investments or by dishonesty, with little or no regard for the consequences. Perhaps the practice of patience is more difficult, yet more necessary, now than at any previous time...

Examples of Patience

The Lord, Jesus Christ, is our perfect example of patience. Though absolutely unyielding in adherence to the truth, he exemplified patience repeatedly during his mortal ministry...

During the Apostle Paul’s ministry of about thirty years, between his conversion and his martyrdom in Rome, he was flogged five times, beaten severely at least three times, imprisoned several times, shipwrecked three times, and stoned and left for dead on one occasion (see 2 Cor. 11:23–27). Through all of this affliction, he continued his powerful ministry...

The Prophet Joseph Smith’s afflictions and sufferings paralleled those of Paul in many respects. Beyond imprisonments, mobbings, and beatings, he suffered the anguish of betrayal by disloyal, unfaithful associates. But he offered the hand of friendship and fellowship to them even after they had opposed and betrayed him...

Patience Today

We should learn to be patient with ourselves. Recognizing our strengths and our weaknesses, we should strive to use good judgment in all of our choices and decisions, make good use of every opportunity, and do our best in every task we undertake. We should not be unduly discouraged nor in despair at any time when we are doing the best we can. Rather, we should be satisfied with our progress even though it may come slowly at times.

We should be patient in developing and strengthening our testimonies. Rather than expecting immediate or spectacular manifestations, though they will come when needed, we should pray for a testimony, study the scriptures, follow the counsel of our prophet and other Church leaders, and live the principles of the gospel. Our testimonies then will grow and mature naturally, perhaps imperceptibly at times, until they become driving forces in our lives.

Patience with family members and others who are close to us is vital for us to have happy homes. However, we often seem more willing to be courteous and polite with strangers than with those in our own family circles. For some reason, criticism, sharp language, and quarreling too often seem to be acceptable at home but not away from home...

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Finally, a word about patience with our Heavenly Father and his plan of eternal progression. How incredibly foolish to be impatient with him, the Father of our spirits, who knows everything and whose work and glory, through his Son, Jesus Christ, is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than his. Either way we are questioning the reality of God’s omniscience” (Ensign, Oct. 1980, p. 28)...

I am truly grateful for the Lord’s patience with his children...I pray that we might be patient, especially in adversity, as we meet our challenges of uncertainty, trials, pressure, and tribulation in today’s world.

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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 124; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 100; Excerpts from General Conference, April 1987, “Patience, a Key to Happiness,” by Joseph B. Wirthlin, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.