I think sometimes it is easy to confuse favor with blessings. When adversity comes into our life, it is tempting to wonder if we’re doing something wrong. However, if you search through the Scriptures you’ll see a different story. While it is true that you can see temporal success and wealth as a blessing for obedience, such as in the case of Abraham, there are other blessings as well. The former makes life slightly simpler, the latter makes life richer. Those are the kind I learned about this morning.
My favorite thing to do on Sundays is to get to the chapel early. This way I can sit in the quiet atmosphere and read my Scriptures. There are no distractions in the chapel….unless my kids are fussing. This morning I was reading in I Nephi. In the very first verse Nephi says,
“….having seen many afflictions in the course of my days,…”
Right after that you would expect him to talk about how difficult his trials have been, yet how he’s grown from them. That’s what most of us would say. But not Nephi. His next words were,
“…having been highly favored of the Lord…”
What? Highly favored? Why would he say that? How are afflictions evidence of favor? Here’s how.
“….having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God.”
When we’re in adversity, grace comes with it. Think of the times your children are suffering. Don’t you try to do everything in your power to help them through it? Maybe you even buy them a special treat as a means of brightening their day. I see that time and time again when adversity comes my way.
I’m struggling and struggling, then right about the time I think my back will break under the load, it suddenly gets lighter. Next thing I know some little thing comes along that makes me smile. A tiny gift from heaven. All through that time, often I can feel His presence with me. Not always, but often. I am learning about the goodness of God.
During adversity I am also gleaning much out of Scripture that I have not seen before. It could be a Scripture I’ve read a thousand times which suddenly is rich with meaning I had previously missed. Thus, God is unraveling some things to me that were previously a mystery.
It is not just Nephi who had adversity come as a result of the favor of heaven. The two that come to my mind immediately are Daniel the prophet and Mary the Savior’s mother.
Daniel had gone through much adversity in his life. Kidnapped at the age of around 14 by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Made to endure indoctrination. Having his life threatened when Nebuchadnezzar had a hissy fit after a nightmare. Placed in a den of lions as an elderly man. I think it is safe to say he knew adversity. Yet, when the angel came to him to reveal unto him the mysteries of heaven he called him “a man greatly beloved”.
Young Mary was also looked upon with esteem in heaven. When the angel came to visit her he said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored…” Yet, shortly after her beloved Son was born, Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her very soul. How many of us could endure watching our child tortured and killed publicly?
It appears that sometimes the favor of heaven is not an easy thing. Maybe when we’re facing our adversities we should remember that our Heavenly Father put this in our paths because He has enough confidence in us to bear it with His help. He’s also designed it to teach us about Him. Both His goodness and the mysteries of Heaven. Can we consider that worth the pain? When we look at it through heavenly glasses maybe during a particularly difficult trial we can remember that we are favored.