All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience

Two Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door this afternoon. The gentleman at the door (I believe the other person with him was his wife) did most of the talking. He somehow knew that our last name was Valencic and thought perhaps we spoke Croatian. I explained that my ancestors came from present-day Slovenia but most of them spoke Polish. However, my parents and my grandparents spoke only English, except for a few words and phrases in Polish.

Abandoning his attempts at speaking Croatian and connecting with us that way, he asked me if I felt like the Hurricane Dorian is God's fault. I told them that I do not blame God for natural disasters and they responded by pointing out that insurance companies call them "acts of God." I observed that there are many archaic terms that we still use but that doesn't change the fact that God is not to be blamed for weather patterns. (If anything, people are, but that gets us into a different topic altogether.)

He quickly moved on to his point, which was to share with what it says in Mark 4:39:

"[Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm."

He then asked me, "Does it bring you comfort to know that Jesus has power to stop the storms?"

I responded in the affirmative and mentioned that I am familiar with the passage because I teach an early morning New Testament study course for high school students each day in my home. His wife asked me what church I attend and I responded that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This quickly ended the conversation as they handed me a pamphlet and bid me a good day.

While mowing the lawn later in the afternoon, it occurred to me what I should have said:

It is true that God has the power to stop the storms in our lives and that He has given that power to His Son, Jesus Christ. I, as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, also have the power to stop storms. However, just because we can do something is rarely a reason for us to actually do it.

When I think about the storms of life, real or metaphorical, I am reminded of the story of a prophet in the Scriptures named Joseph. He was a righteous man who found himself wrongly imprisoned, betrayed by his closest associates, cut off from his family and loved ones, and wondering why it was that he was experiencing such great trials and tribulations. As he poured out his soul to God in prayer, the Scriptures record these words:

"If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;

"If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

"The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

"Therefore, hold on thy way... Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."
(Doctrine and Covenants 122:5-9)

Another prophet at a different time taught his children that

"... 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...

"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 Nephi 2:11, 13)

It is my witness that God does not cause the storms of our lives; he allows us to experience storms so that we can learn from them, and grow as a result of what we have learned. Just as a toddler learns to walk by falling down, we learn by making mistakes, by failing forward, and by experiencing trials and tribulations--the storms of life. I don't want to live in a world without any storms, without any struggles, without any challenges. Such a world would be void of learning, of growth, of faith. That is not God's plan for us.

I thank God for the storms of life that allow us to exercise faith in Him, to learn from our experiences, and to grow more like Him.

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