I was reflecting recently on insights I gleaned from the The Work and the Glory series by Gerald N. Lund. During the horrendous persecutions in Missouri, the character Benjamin Steed asks Joseph Smith, “Why are all these things happening to us?”
The messages I gleaned from Joseph’s reply are these:
• The Lord said He would have a pure people and that the Church must be sanctified.
• Church membership is not for those looking just for the benefits, or for an easy way of life.
• Trials of faith are a weeding out process; the Kingdom of God on earth must be comprised only of the pure in heart who have sufficient faith to sacrifice all without losing heart.
Joseph said that the Saints would need an “iron faith” to make it through all that was coming (and the persecutions in Far West were only a type of what was to come).
I believe we are in that same weeding out process; I believe we too will need an iron faith to make it through the Last Days’ tribulations. Trials of our faith, when we turn to the Lord, help us develop that kind of faith as we dig our roots deep in gospel soil, clear down to the Rock of our Redeemer.
Faith Is an Inside Job
I’ve concluded that faith cannot depend on outside circumstances at all; it is instead an inner choice based on belief in eternal promises and trust in God and His plan. Faith must be based on His truth. It’s a myth that if I follow Christ and keep my covenants then all will work out as I plan or wish – that I can receive some guarantee through good behavior. Look at the life of the prophets!
Faith grows only as I make His will my will and trust God with whatever comes in the meantime. Dante, in The Divine Comedy, wrote: “In His will is our peace.” Any time I come to a place where I feel I’m in harmony with His will, even if many of the circumstances of my life are difficult and not what I would choose, I can find peace. I can trust that He knows the outcome when I don’t and that our redemption is His work and glory. He does nothing that is not for the long-term best good of all His children. I can cling to that knowledge when the storms rage. I can choose faith inside my heart regardless of what is happening in the outside world!