1 Nephi 20
In this chapter Nephi shared the writings of Isaiah found Isaiah 48. This chapter focused on the importance for each person to “stay themselves upon the God of Israel” in good times, in hard times, and at all times. Part of the journey to become a hero involves afflictions and trials. We all have mountains to climb and we can successfully reach the top if we keep climbing with the Lord. Isaiah assured us that “the Lord thy God…teacheth thee to profit…[and] leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go.”
Keeping the commandments in good times, in hard times, and at all times helps us stay ourselves upon the Lord. Isaiah promised that when we hearken to God’s commandments our “peace [will be] as a river, and [our] righteousness as the waves of the sea” (1 Nephi 20:18). In addition to peace, the Lord promises to endow us with power and strength when we stay, or wait, upon Him. “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength…..they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29, 31).
Trials and afflictions are a way for the Lord to test us, to see if we will stay with Him, “to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]” (Abraham 3:25). When we patiently endure trials and wait upon the Lord for His help in His time we stretch and grow and change. As we stay ourselves upon the Lord and continue to keep His commandments, we invite Him to help us, to give us His power and strength. Through His grace, we are refined and purified. “For behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (1 Nephi 20:10).
President James E. Faust expounded upon this hero principle in this 2006 article, “Refined in Our Trials.”
Here, then, is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.
Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful. The Apostle Paul referred to his own challenge: “And lest I should be exalted above measure … , there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor. 12:7).
The thorns that prick, that stick in the flesh, that hurt, often change lives which seem robbed of significance and hope. This change comes about through a refining process which often seems cruel and hard. In this way the soul can become like soft clay in the hands of the Master in building lives of faith, usefulness, beauty, and strength. For some, the refiner’s fire causes a loss of belief and faith in God, but those with eternal perspective understand that such refining is part of the perfection process….
The Divine Shepherd has a message of hope, strength, and deliverance for all. If there were no night, we would not appreciate the day, nor could we see the stars and the vastness of the heavens. We must partake of the bitter with the sweet. There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless.
When we pluck the roses, we find we often cannot avoid the thorns which spring from the same stem.
Out of the refiner’s fire can come a glorious deliverance. It can be a noble and lasting rebirth. The price to become acquainted with God will have been paid. There can come a sacred peace. There will be a reawakening of dormant, inner resources. A comfortable cloak of righteousness will be drawn around us to protect us and to keep us warm spiritually. Self-pity will vanish as our blessings are counted.
The blessings of eternity will surely come to those who endure refining, as the Lord Himself taught: “He only is saved who endureth unto the end” (D&C 53:7).
*What blessings have come to you through the furnace of affliction?
*How have you been refined by your trials?
*Share an example in your own life when you stayed yourself upon the Lord.