On the Just and the Unjust

I was reminded recently, by the anguish of a dear friend, that life is hard—and sometimes it is very, very hard.  Given the relative ease of my own life (thus far) and the depths of human misery in faraway (and sometimes near) places, I’m hesitant to say that life is hard for all of us, but—at least to some extent—it is.  The Savior said, “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” We won’t all be tested in the same ways, but we will all be tested.  It is part of life’s purpose and, as resistance does for muscles, provides for us opportunities to grow—even when that last phrase seems like such a cliché when we’re in the midst of significant adversity.

Yet, even knowing that life involves testing and opposition, we sometimes seem surprised, even shocked, that extreme difficulty would come to us.  We tend to see ourselves as “the just” and think life unfair when the rain falls, as it surely will.  Echoing the Savior, Longfellow said (as my mother often reminded me during rainy—meaning most—days in Seattle) that “Into each life some rain must fall.” We ask how this can be and why life is unfair and where God is, for heaven’s sake, and how He could let such things happen to us.

Adding to our confusion and perceived injustice is our knowledge that blessings follow obedience, which they surely do.  But that’s not to say that the opposite is true: that adversity follows—and only follows—rebellion.  Certainly negative consequences follow poor choices, but the worst consequence can follow even the best choices.  Just consider the great martyrs.

Lawrence Corbridge said,

“Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices.  We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love, and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier?

“He said, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; … and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’  Life is hard, but life is simple. Get on the path and never, ever give up. You never give up. You just keep on going. You don’t quit, and you will make it.”

I agree. We do not—indeed cannot—always see specific tests coming. And there is no guarantee that when they come, our prayers and pleas for relief will be answered in the time and manner we want. But. Whatever happens, if we will place our trust in the Savior, walk with Him, and allow Him to walk with us—patiently, submissively, and constantly striving for the best outcome—we will be better off than if we dismiss God and try to go it alone.

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