At EFY, I grew to appreciate the time set aside in the morning for scripture reading. I had every intention to continue that when I got home, but when I have a normal schedule it's just easier and more practical for me to read at night. I missed having that spiritual enlightenment in the morning though, so I've started listening to General Conference talks on the Mormon Channel app each morning as I get ready for work! It makes a huge difference to my day to start it off with inspired words.
The app has talks all the way back to 2003, so I just started there and have been listening to them in order. The other day, I listened to one that really had a big impact on me and I've been thinking about it ever since. It's titled "But If Not..." by Dennis E. Simmonds from April 2004. His message was so powerful. His talk is about the true meaning of faith, and the fact that we must believe that God will deliver us from our challenges, "but if not", we will be okay no matter what because He has a greater plan. In my life, I often hope for things to happen and pray my heart out for them, but I've grown and learned that I also need pray for comfort and peace for those times when what I really want to happen doesn't. Accepting the Lord's will is hard sometimes, but I'm working on it. :) Here are some of my favorite parts of his talk:
"As a young man, I returned home from an eighth-grade basketball tournament dejected, disappointed, and confused. I blurted out to my mother, “I don’t know why we lost—I had faith we’d win!”
I now realize that I did not then know what faith is.
Faith is not bravado, not just a wish, not just a hope. True faith is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ —confidence and trust in Jesus Christ that leads a person to follow Him.
So there we have it —it's a test. The world is a testing place for mortal men and women. When we understand that it's all a test, administered by our Heavenly Father, who wants us to trust in Him and to allow him to help us, we can then see everything more clearly.
The Lord has given us agency, the right and the responsibility to decide. He tests us by allowing us to be challenged. He assures us that he will not suffer us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. But we must understand that great challenges make great men. We don't seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings.
Our scriptures and our history are replete with accounts of God’s great men and women who believed that He would deliver them, but if not, they demonstrated that they would trust and be true. He has the power, but it’s our test. What does the Lord expect of us with respect to our challenges? He expects us to do all we can do. He does the rest. Nephi said, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not... He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not... We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not,... we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has."
This is something I'm working on remembering every day. But I do know Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and the hard things we experience shape us and our character. I know that I'm better person from the trials and things I've gone through even in just the last year. I won't go so far as to say I'm grateful for my trials, but I will say I'm grateful for what I've learned from my trials. I wouldn't be the same person without them. He has a plan for me.
Full talk here.