Q&A Is There Celestial Hope for One Who has Never Suffered Greatly?

QUESTION

I read Choosing Glory yesterday and loved it. I just wanted to comment on the idea that suffering is the route to changing terrestrial to celestial. My life is one of peace, joy, service, love and deep-seated contentment. I can honestly say I have no trials in my life, only blessings. My husband is faithful, kind, has integrity and loves me. He has been gainfully employed our whole marriage except for a brief period in 1972. We’ve never been wealthy, but compared to 99.9 percent of the world we are rich. My home is modest (as you may remember) but it is mortgage-free. My 8 children never rebelled, used drugs, or got pregnant out of wedlock. All but one married in the temple. They all served missions (boys) and earned personal progress (girls). My health, while not perfect, is good. (I am overweight and have Diabetes Type 2—big deal compared to others with cancer or MS.) I have a calling I love and read the scriptures with delight every day. I work at the temple on a regular basis and I have loved every stage of my life. I am not suffering and never have. Is there any hope for me?

ANSWER

There is, of course, hope for all those who hunger and thirst after righteousness!

On a serious note—I do think our Heavenly Father has made it clear that all who seek the Kingdom will be tried—at some point, whenever and however that comes. Here are just a few of very many prophetic statements that tell us significant trials will come:

Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 345

All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. If we obtain the glory that Abraham obtained, we must do so by the same means that he did. If we are ever prepared to enjoy the society of Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or of their faithful children, and of the faithful Prophets and Apostles, we must pass through the same experience, and gain the knowledge, intelligence, and endowments that will prepare us to enter into the celestial kingdom of our Father and God.

D&C 101:4-5

Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.

For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.

John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 24:197

Nevertheless, as I have said, it is necessary that we pass through certain ordeals, and that we be tried. But why is it that we should be tried? There is just the same necessity for it now that there was in former times. I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”

On a lighter note, some people I know—and you could be one of them—have an unquenchably positive view of life and seem to minimize the trials they have passed through.

A few examples:

The Apostle Paul proclaimed, “we glory in tribulations” (Romans 5:3).

Joseph Smith likewise, after making only a partial list of his serious life’s troubles, wrote: “deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation” (D&C 127:2).

My father takes it even a step further and regularly declares that his life has been terrific and he never had any troubles in his life. This, mind you, comes from a man whose father died when he was seven, who was the 6th of 8 siblings, whose younger sister died very young, who grew up too often hungry, who came to this country from Mexico after his mission, with absolutely nothing, and who built a great life but not one without what most of us would consider troubles. When my dad starts to wax eloquent about how wonderful his life is, I can occasionally be heard mumbling about diagnostic categories for that kind of denial, but that’s how he sees his life!

Another thought—I remember hearing a gentleman comment in a Sunday School lesson about telling his children that growth came through trials, therefore, “If you don’t have a trial, go get one!” I disagree. The faithful can rest assured that the Lord will provide us ample opportunity for growth in His wisdom and His timing. I hope we NEVER go looking for trials.

And finally, the One you really need to answer this question always responds to earnest inquiries concerning “What lack I yet?” As Harold B. Lee used to quote, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” So, it’s always a good idea to check with the Lord about how he would like us to be “anxiously engaged” (D&C 58:27). He may let us know of ways we can stretch our service, better magnify our callings, more fully develop and consecrate our talents to the building of the kingdom, be more charitable to our neighbor, and become more like He is. On the other hand, He may let us know that we are moving forward “in wisdom and order” and, appropriately, not running “faster . . . than [we] have strength” (Mosiah 4:27).

Dear Sister, I celebrate your good life and/or your good attitude. Enjoy!

  1. Pops says:

    What about those who die before the age of accountability? Where is their trial?

    I think an argument can be made that trials are customized for the needs of each of Heavenly Father’s children. That is, each will be given the specific trials they need to increase their faith to the point that they are capable of exaltation (so long as they stay the course). I don’t think it’s heresy to say that some start out in this mortal life closer to the goal than others.

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