When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost …
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? …
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold …
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all. [Hymn # 241]
I am writing in generalities, but I believe the following perceptions to be widely applicable to all of us, despite our different circumstances. I also write as one who is by no means an expert in understanding these principles, just someone who is constantly attempting to figure out how to apply them in her life on a continuing basis – and as one who has had plenty of opportunities to try to learn these lessons.
Each of us, while in mortality, will have moments of tribulation, discouragement, disappointment, fear, and pain. We often feel to cry unto the Lord, as did the Prophet Joseph in the Liberty Jail: “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed… Remember thy suffering saints, O our God…” (D&C 121:1–2, 6)
We yearn to hear an answer similar to Joseph’s: “My son [daughter], peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” (D&C 121:7–8)
How do we find the strength to endure and hope for eventual triumph?
We each have our own answers based on our individual situations. I suspect most of us would include things such as the support of family and friends, prayer, scripture study, personal revelation, testimony, among many others.
I have recently discovered a personal application of Alma 7:15:
“Come and fear not [don't hesitate, second-guess yourself, become paralyzed into inaction], and lay aside every sin [along with every fear, worry, blunder, concern], which easily doth beset you [the 'ruts' or natural tendencies and habits into which you keep returning]… Show unto your God that ye are willing [have an honest desire] to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments [each requires action], and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism [renewing it through the sacrament].”
And what is the blessing when I do this to the best of my ability? “Whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him… he shall have eternal life.” (Alma 7:16)
These types of solutions and answers help us build on our foundation of faith and hope. I have found, however, that the “big trials” need additional boosts – constant reminders to help us continue on in the face of seemingly never-ending and insurmountable odds.
My own answers in these dark moments of uncertainty and discouragement come in a variety of ways, and I find I constantly need to be reminded of the blessings they are in my life. Invariably, I am led to my “favorites” – family, friends, good music, scriptures.
A few of my current examples that keep me afloat when life is dreary: Ray, my kids, extended family, friends, Hilary Weeks’ CD “If I Only Had Today” [phenomenal!!], “Count Your Blessings,” “Where Can I Turn for Peace?,” “I Stand All Amazed,” Matthew 11:28–30; John 14:27; D&C 122:7–9; Alma 7:11–13, 23–24. I also write a weekly blog post of my blessings, to help me maintain perspective and optimism.
These are the lifelines I grab when I am feeling tempest-tossed, discouraged, burdened, and frustrated. I find I am better able to deal with challenges and setbacks when I also focus on the Savior.
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done …
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by …
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high …
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
The repetition in this hymn emphasizes the importance of actively recognizing the gifts in our lives and expressing gratitude for them. I find this particularly potent when life is challenging and overwhelming. I believe one of our tests in mortality is to learn to recognize the blessings in the midst of the struggles of life. Heavenly Father does indeed bless us, even in times of distress.
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your blessings; See what God hath done.
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.