It may be that the most difficult trials that come to the faithful are designed by Heavenly Father. Satan tempts men/women through the fleshy appetites. Heavenly Father tries men/women through paradox.
In order to discuss trials by paradox I’ll first provide a dictionary definition and then examples from the lives of followers of Christ.
1. Something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible
2. At the most basic level, a paradox is a statement that is self contradictory because it often contains two statements that are both true, but in general, cannot both be true at the same time.
Synonyms: dichotomy, incongruity
Examples of Heavenly Fathers Trials
We’re commandment to marry. Do you know anyone who wants to keep the command to marry but somehow hasn’t? We’re commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. Do you know a couple who have tried but can’t have children?
“As Abram wandered through Canaan, he was promised the land over and over again (cf. Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:18; 17:1-8). Yet when Sarah died, Abraham had to buy the cave of Machpelah in which to bury her…The land was Abraham’s by covenant, yet near the end of his life he did not even own a plot of ground sufficient to inter Sarah’s body…Abraham spent all his days living on promises.” (John Tanner, BYU Devotional Address, 30 June 1992)
“Then came to Heber and Vilate an Abrahamic test – something that was to them unthinkable. Joseph asked Heber to give Vilate to him as a wife. Heber, emotionally overwhelmed by the request, came home to wrestle with the request. He touched neither food nor water for three days and three nights and continually sought confirmation and comfort from God. On the evening of the third day, some kind of divine assurance came, and Heber and Vilate walked from their home to Joseph’s store. Having placed her hand into the Prophet’s, Heber and Vilate submitted their will to his.
Joseph wept at this act of faith, devotion, and obedience. The Prophet never intended to take Vilate from Heber-his request was only a test. Passing the test, Vilate and Heber were rewarded by being sealed for time and eternity by Joseph before they returned home.” (Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Jeni Broberg Holzapfel, Women of Nauvoo, from chapter 6, “New Revelations—A Time of Testing”)
There are many examples of trials in the scriptures and church history designed by Heavenly Father to prove his followers. The few examples above hopefully illustrate this.
Elder Neal A Maxwell wrote:
Since we are here to be proved, words of soberness like these from John Taylor are not surprising: “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 (he said) 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.'” (Journal of Discourses, 24:197.) (Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, p.51.)
I think the Lord proves his followers on many levels: individually and the church as a whole. We are in the midst of a trial where perplexing issues in church history and doctrine are troubling many church members. Paradoxically most of these trials were created by church leaders who were doing their best to advance the cause of the church.
In any case, these trials are wrenching the heart strings of many individuals and families in the church. Certainly church leaders are being tried as well. It is possible that some at the General Authority level will leave the church. These troubles are in the early stages and appear to be expanding. They potentially could become a crisis for the church on an international level.
Is it possible that Heavenly Father is somehow allowing the current trial to prove his followers?
Denver’s Book PTHG is the Latest Salvo
My last post was about Denver’s book, PTHG. Since I wrote that post I’ve purchased a used copy. I’ve read the first three chapters and over viewed all the other chapters. As I expected, I found many interesting thoughts and observations. It is a compelling book. But, it is also a damaging book for some members. It undermines faith in the church and church leaders. It is a stumblingblock for many, especially those weak in faith. The book is like a photo-shopped picture. It portrays church history as Denver sees it. For that reason it is an unwise book.
All this makes me think about “interpreters” in the Book of Mormon.
And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish.
(Book of Mormon | Mosiah 8:13)
The point of this verse is paradoxical. Interpreters were used to reveal truth, but as the above verse teaches, in some instances truth can be damaging to those unprepared for it.
I wonder what Denver’s opinion would be about a man who lived in Third Reich Germany who told the Nazi’s about his beloved uncle concealing Jews, reasoning that it is true, therefore it needs to be told.
In the apostle Paul’s day idol meat became an issue of faith for church members.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
(New Testament | 1 Corinthians 8:9 – 13)
I believe the wise among us will follow the example of Joshua and will simply say and do as he did, “choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
(Old Testament | Joshua 24:15)