Sunday, September 07, 2008

On Adversity

Last Thursday, I was turned down, yet again, for a job. The constant and consistent barrage of rejection has been maddening. I struggle and fail to understand it. And I was ready to give up. Looking at my resume, I still can't understand why no one will hire me for full-time work. All things being equal, there must be something about me that employers don't like.
Seeing my despair, my wife invited me on a date on Friday. She picked me up from my job. And we went to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to watch, "Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration." The film depicts the life and ministry of Joseph Smith from his early childhood in New England and his martyrdom in Carthage, Illinois. It also depicts key events in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Lord blessed Joseph. He appeared to him many times. He sent Joseph John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John to restore the Priesthood. He also sent Moses, Elias, and Elijah to restore the Keys of the Kingdom of God they held anciently. And Joseph received many other visions, ministrations, and revelations throughout his life.
Yet Joseph suffered severely for teaching and testifying of what he had received from God. He was tarred and feathered, beaten, imprisoned many times, falsely accused, and murdered. Yet near the end of his life, he said:

And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, 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; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it. (D&C 127:2)

But Joseph never reviled against those who persecuted him. He simply trusted in the Lord.
Those who accepted Joseph as a Prophet of God partook of the same cup as he. They left everything to become Mormons. They would gather with other members of the Church and prosper for a time only to be driven out of their homes and everything they had received. Mobs burned their homes and raped, tortured, and murdered men, women, and children all because they believed that God lives, not lived and that He speaks, not spoke.
As I watched the account of their suffering, I recognized that my trials are hardly "deep water." No one has tortured me or driven me from my home. My wife and children are safe and comfortable through the generosity of loving family. And I have received the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I left the movie feeling somewhat frustrated. Not that I suffer adversity but that in such shallow water I struggle not to drown.
I am not a great man like the Prophet, Joseph Smith. Yet the Lord, in His mercy, has blessed me more than I recognize. My only hope is that if the day comes that the Lord asks me to give my life for Him, I will give it freely and without reservation, always and simply trusting in Him.


Chedner said...

My only hope is that if the day comes that the Lord asks me to give my life for Him, I will give it freely and without reservation, always and simply trusting in Him.

I think giving one's life for the Lord doesn't solely imply a physical death... and I'm sure if you look at your life, you'll see you've done a lot of life giving...

Sean said...

I think that of all the moments of your life, the moment of your death is the easiest to consecrate to the Lord, and I don't doubt that you would, given the opportunity. But if all Joseph did was die at Carthage, his life would hardly be worth studying. That martyr's death was the reward he earned for a lifetime of consecrated moments. Likewise, if Christ's Atonement were wrought only on Calvary, He could hardly be worshipped as a God. You or I would easily offer our pitiful lives as propitiation for all God's children, given the opportunity. But my blood could not purchase even my own soul, much less another's. His blood was worthy to only because of His exemplary life and His consecrated blood spilled in Gethsemane.

Much harder than to consecrate the moment of our deaths is to consecrate the mundane, ordinary moments of life. A true saint is he who can grind away at a dull, thankless job, and yet consecrate his efforts and labor to the Kingdom of God. What is that old Jewish story about three men digging? Are you briefing yet another case, or are you building the Kingdom of God?

Paul said...

I think I understand a measure of what you are going through. I have been trying to upgrade my employment and stay in the area for a couple years now.

Twice I have been among the finalists for a position and not gotten it. Another time I was not even asked back for a second interview.

It's not easy dealing with rejection -- especially when you need the blessings. I, like you, find comfort in reading about some of the struggles of the noble and great ones who have pressed on and been rewarded for their faith in unexpected ways.