Tuesday, May 22

For After Much Tribulation...

...verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the rewards of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

For after much tribulation come the blessings...
(D&C 58 2-4, emphasis added)

For whatever reason, every time I've read this scripture in the past, I somehow skipped over the "much" part of "much tribulation." The scripture simply meant that with all tribulation comes blessings - every cloud has a silver lining.

But with much added back in, it tells a completely different story. Without much, it suggests a Lord who immediately hears and delivers the faithful when they suffer. With it, the scripture tells of pioneers who pull handcarts thousands of miles... Israelites who wander in the desert for 40 years... Abraham and Sariah and Zacharias and Elizabeth who pray for children for decades... a woman with an issue of blood who spends all her substance and time trying to become whole... men and women who live whole lives with disease and disability... and seemingly unsolvable trials that pull at the fabric of mortality... before arriving in Zion, finding the Promised Land, having children, or being healed.

For a long time I honestly believed that if I was righteous enough, the Lord would quickly answer all my prayers exactly the way I wanted Him to. Specifically, if I did everything right, over a short period of time (or at most a few years) my same-sex attraction would disappear, leaving ardent love for a girl in its place. It makes sense then why some of the most difficult moments of my life were when, after honestly trying to live the gospel to the absolute fullest possible for multiple years and passing important milestones (complete a faithful mission, etc), I felt like my trials were becoming heavier... not easier. I definitely didn't understand this scripture.

Today, looking back on my trials and forward to the future, I can easily say that it's worth it to stay true to the gospel. My life, while a total and complete mess, is guided by God... and I find honest hope and happiness in doing my best. My date tonight was even fun.

But sometimes it's hard to look forward, or even backwards, on trials with much hope. When I'm in the middle of "much tribulation," the most important part of this scripture isn't the promise that someday I'll be blessed for my goodness... whenever someday comes. The most important part is the first phrase: blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death... the promise that, no matter what faces me, the way to be blessed (and find happiness, peace, and whatever else I need, since those are definitely blessings) is to keep the commandments, no matter what the consequence.

Another idea that I've somehow missed is the thought that those who are faithful in tribulation receive greater rewards. Up until a few moments ago, I was of the opinion that everyone who made it, made it... and there wasn't really a huge distinction after that. Trials and tribulations were, in my mind, simply methods that the Lord uses to give me a better chance to return to Him... the exact same way He uses blessings or talents or relationships with others. I'm not exactly sure what it means that those who are faithful in tribulation receive greater rewards... do they have more knowledge? Are they more committed to living the commandments? I think that, at least in my case, living in tribulation has taught me greater faith and compassion... because I have to have them to survive.

For after much tribulation come the blessings...

My patriarchal blessing says that the Lord has a lot in store for me... which probably means I have a long way to walk before I get there.

4 comments:

Rachel said...

Thank you so much for this post - I really needed this today. My tribulation is different than yours. Instead of same-sex attraction, I have multiple chronic illnesses that affect every aspect of my life, make everything hard. But the result is kind of similar to you - you are waiting to fall in love with a girl, even though most things tell you it's not possible. And I am waiting for a guy to fall in love with me, even though most things tell me it'll never happen because I'm so sick. But with faith, with time, both of us can and will eventually be blessed with our desires. And (this is the part I love, but often forget) we will be more blessed because of everything we went through. I feel like so many blessings are being kept from me because I'm sick. But when I remember to use my "eternal perspective glasses" instead of my "here and now glasses," I know that not only will things get better for me and I'll receive the blessings I desire, but I will be receive even more blessings BECAUSE of the tribulation I am going through.
I have been forgetting all these glorious truths lately, thank you for being in tune with the Spirit and writing this - not just for yourself, but so that other's could feel the Spirit in your message and apply it to their lives. So that I could apply it to mine.
Stay strong! Blessings are coming!

Adam G. said...

Very insightful, and maybe a little depressing. Courage and fortitude.

Mormon Soprano said...

Hi! Wonderful post, and blog site. Thank you so much for your faithfulness and your example of being a courageous child of God striving to keep the Commandments day by day. Two thoughts:

1. I highly recommend that you get a copy of Elder Bednar's newest book/DVD "Increase In Learning". It's amazing. The book is designed like a spiritual workbook, with large margins to write in and the DVD is a Q&A session with Elder and Sister Bednar that goes into more depth on certain topics in the book. I've made it to Chapter 2 (every sentence is like a sermon, so it's designed for us to go slow and ponder and absorb everything). It's been INCREDIBLE how much I've learned and how the spirit has been opening up my mind! My knowledge and understanding of the gospel and scripture and understanding my personal purpose has not skyrocketed this fast since I was studying in Jerusalem 25 years ago. I'm recommending it to everyone I meet right now, but your post makes me think you will especially love all of the things Elder Bednar is teaching about the purpose of our mortal life - which is to come down and have experiences and to learn - and then we die and we keep progressing and learning forever - learning and knowledge never end...life is just part of the entire eternal process. The goal of the earth experience is to exercise our gift of moral agency in correct ways, in order to progress and learn from our experiences. He shares that "the Atonement makes it possible for us to have experiences in life, without being condemned by those experiences".

2. You aren't alone.
Just a couple of days ago LDS Living published an article by Ty & Danielle Mansfield, another (Gay) Mormon Guy, and his wife. Obviously, Ty's story and path is different than others with SSA, however the key to his happiness and peace is the key to happiness and peace for any of us; developing a close personal relationship with the Savior and keeping the commandments. We can never predict what miracles God has in store for each of us waiting around the corner.

3. You are loved!
You have millions of church family members supporting and rooting for you, you have your living and deceased earth family and friends rooting for you on both sides of the veil, you have Heavenly Father and you have our Savior Jesus who suffered everything you have or ever will feel, and He knows how to personally succor you. You are very, very loved.

Keep the faith, brother! - MoSop

Jolene Perry said...

Your blog is awesome.