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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Overcoming the Struggles of Life

No person can go through life without having difficult times. Even the happiest, most successful people have struggles and times of hardship, often called "trials". Though a normal part of life, these events and problems can strongly influence our lives and choices and should not be discounted as unimportant. Every time we encounter a time of trouble, we are given a choice. Most of the time, we have little to no control over these trials occurring. But, we have the ability to choose our reaction and attitude towards such tribulation.

In the Book of Mormon, the sons of the people of Ammon, often called the "stripling warriors," were a group of young men who devoted their lives to the service of God and defense of the liberty of their people. They fought valiantly and courageously against the Lamanites, their former brethren, who in many cases were much stronger, larger in numbers, and more skilled in battle strategy than the young men. They did not wish to kill their former brothers, but being continually provoked by the constant threat of the Lamanite efforts to destroy their liberty and freedom, they defended the inherent rights of the Nephites. This struggle would be not only physically, but mentally and emotionally taxing. However, instead of blaming or complaining, the warriors went forth in faith. They "did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their own lives" (Alma 56:47). These young men, only teenagers and young adults, were firm, undaunted, and "put their trust in God continually" (Alma 57:27).

Not only did the stripling warriors have faith, they acted on it. These young men risked their lives for the cause of truth and righteousness. At the same time, Moroni was still leading his force to fight against the Lamanites in other places. His army was experiencing a lack of provisions and a time of struggle. But, when they heard about their brothers' success in fighting in other lands, these men "rejoiced because of their welfare" (Alma 59:1). Thus, as my professor says, in times of trial we can either become better or bitter. There is never a neutral time of stagnancy in our character and righteousness; either we are improving and working harder to become more like Christ, or we are slipping, no matter how slightly, and falling towards evil. It is vital that in times of troubles, we remember the eternal perspective of our existence. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins so that we could improve, repent, and become more like Him. We are provided with struggles in life as a test, and can either learn from them, or become resentful and angry because of them. As always, the choice rests in our hands.

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