I was really moved when I read this account by BYU Religion Professor Brent Top of an experience he had during one of his classes. His class was discussing the reasons about why we have to have adversity in this life. He said that the class was very good at coming up with all the right answers. They were able to give quick responses such as, “We need to be tested,” or “To prove ourselves” etc, etc. He said that a member of the class who was seated in the back and was a few years older than the other students, raised his hand. This man then stood up and said, “You are all very good at giving the answers about why we have to have adversity in this life. You have the answers, but have you ever had to ask the questions?” He then went on to share that his wife had recently passed away leaving him to care for their two small children alone and how difficult this had been.
This experience made me think about how blessed we are to know the things we do know in our Church about the plan of salvation and the purpose of life. Yes, we are so blessed to have many “answers” to the tough questions, but the nature of life is also that we must come to “own”those answers for ourselves. And it is often only when in our pain we cry out with such questions such as “Why did this have to happen?” or “How will I ever get through this?” that we come to discover the answers for ourselves. It is then that the answers about adversity cease to be rote responses that we may have learned in seminary or Sunday School, but they become part of our soul. They become a part of who we are and not only what we believe but what we have come to know for ourselves in the crucible of suffering.