Trials of Fire
I have recently been thinking about how much the trials that I have gone through mean to me, and what they have done for me. I used to have a rather negative outlook on trials and how they affected me. Only looking on how tough it was for me at the time, and never realizing how I was growing, or how the Lord was helping me through things. I then realized how much I truly was learning from the trials in my life, how they were helping me to come closer to Jesus Christ, and how they were “burning” out my imperfections. Trials are the means that help me to become perfected.
One particular scripture that I really like is 1st Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” I thought about this and how it related to my own trials. How these trials would shape and strengthen me, burning out my imperfections, and how I would eventually think them to be of more worth than gold. One trial in my life that I find to have done just that is something that happened to me my freshman year of college.
I had just barely moved up to Rexburg from my hometown of Shelley. I had been up here a couple of weeks. My friend from home was going to be giving his farewell talk on Sunday, so I decided to go home that weekend. While I was home we got a group of people together to go on a group date. We were having lots of fun playing night games in Tautphaus in Idaho Falls. While we were playing there was a car there. One of the girls decided to run after the car while it was leaving. The car then turned around and tried to run us over on the grass there. We easily evaded the car in the trees. The car then turned around and left. We thought that would be the last time that we saw them, but we were wrong. About 15 minutes later the car came back, and 5 hispanics got out, and slashed the tires of my Jeep, and my friends car.
I was rather upset that my tires had just been slashed and wanted to talk to them to see what was going on. We left the girls on the grass by the baseball diamond as we walked up to talk to them. They came out us, asking if we wanted to fight. One had a knife in his hand, another had a stun gun that he was snapping on and off causing an eerie blue glow. We stopped a ways away from them, and said that we didn't want to fight. The one with a knife lunged out and stabbed me in the stomach. He also stabbed my friend next to me in the chest, hitting a rib. I was then punched in the face, and they then turned and ran back to their car. My other friend had been on the opposite side of the cars and heard the noise so he came to see what was going on. He saw what was happening and turned to run, and was stabbed in the back. The hispanics then jumped back into their car and drove off.
I didn't realize that I had been stabbed and was walking over to my car, when I realized that I was bleeding from my stomach. My friend that had been stabbed in the rib, called 911 on his cell phone and an ambulance was dispatched, to pick us up. They took my friend who had been stabbed in the back first because he was bleeding the worst, and then they took me. I probably looked rather horrible, because I was bleeding from stomach, and from my face. When I got to the hospital, they took me to the ER, ran X-rays, and decided that they needed to do exploratory surgery to make sure that I was alright. My dad, and my friend's were at the hospital already, and gave me a priesthood blessing before I went in for surgery.
About 3 hours later I was out of surgery, and semi-conscious when they wheeled me into my hospital room. I said goodnight to my friends, and family that were there. I woke up the next morning in my hospital room, and my sister helped me to clean up. The doctor came in, and told me that luckily the knife hadn't hit any of my intestines, that it had scratched my liver only. This was pretty miraculous because they told me that the knife had penetrated about 4 inches into my stomach, entering right above my belly button. I had 19 staples holding me together after the surgery. I spent 2 and a half days in the hospital, and then the rest of that week at home recovering, before I came back to school.
During the time I spent in the hospital, I wondered why that had happened to me. Why I had been stabbed. I hadn't done anything to provoke the attack, none of us had. I remember clearly one night in the hospital when I was alone and pondering on these things, feeling pretty downhearted. I remember that I thought of Jesus, and what He had done for me. How he had suffered when he had done nothing wrong. I remember how the Book of Mormon teaches us that he took upon Himself our weaknesses, so that He could succor us. I felt that that night. He comforted me, and helped me. I also believe that it was because of the priesthood blessing that my Dad gave me that I was able to heal that quickly.
In the 3 years I've had to ponder over this experience, I've come to realize that it has changed my life. I would be a very different person without it. It helped me to become more active in the church. I had never been less active in body, but I was never the most focused at church. It helped me realize how important the gospel was in my life. It also helped me realize that life is important. I'm not invincible. I do have someone watching out for me though. A Heavenly Father that knows me and protects me. I know that He loves me, and is watching out for me. I have come to treasure all of the things that I've learned from this experience, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, they truly have much more worth than gold, or any earthly thing. I can take these experiences with me, but I can't take any earthly thing with me. This is taught in 1st Timothy 6:7 “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.”
I have also learned that it is these sufferings, or trials that help to make me perfect. They help me on my pathway to become more like Christ. The Joseph Smith Translation of Hebrews 11:40 teaches this: “God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.” I have been made more perfect through my sufferings, and through my trials. Another instance of this is when I received my mission call. I was so surprised to learn that I was called to serve in the Taipei, Taiwan Mission. I was shocked, thinking for sure I would be called to serve in South America, or somewhere in the States, like everyone else in my family had done. I knew that it would be a challenge for me to learn Mandarin chinese. I was a little intimidated when I heard so many people tell me Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn.
I arrived at the MTC and found out for myself that Chinese is rather difficult to learn. I worked hard and applied myself, and trusted in the Lord. Knowing that it was His will for me to be serve in Taiwan, and that He would help me to fulfill my purpose as a missionary. I gave it my all. I remember when I was about ready to leave the MTC that I was getting particularly nervous about leaving on a jet plane to fly around the world and that I was leaving the next day. Leaving to go farther away from home than I had ever been. Leaving all that was familiar to me and going to a new place. I remember going to a session at the temple, and then sitting in the Celestial room afterwards. While I was sitting there, a distinct impression came to me. I felt that I would be able to learn Mandarin, that I would be a successful missionary, and that the Lord would continue to watch over me. It was a very comforting thing for me to have that feeling right before I left, and it helped me to continue working hard, and to always be obedient to the mission rules.
I also really love the story of Moses that is given in Hebrews 11:24-26. Moses endured much trial, and through it he became more perfect. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” When we can like Moses understand what is truly at stake, and then follow after Christ, no matter the affliction or trial that comes, then we will be able to increase and grow like we couldn't without the afflictions, we would miss the better way that was prepared for us, the “more excellent way” that Christ teaches us.
Another thing that I have learned through my trials, is that they are given to me for specific reason. I have many weaknesses and am striving to overcome then. I have learned that I can, when I focus on some of my specific weaknesses and work hard at changing them, and humble myself. I love how this is taught by Moroni in the Book of Mormon, when he is worrying about his weaknesses, and how they are a trial to him. Ether 12:27 says, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them.” I have learned from this many times, and continue to implement it into my life. It has also helped me come to realize that I can not change on my own. That it isn't through my own actions or the things that I do that I will become perfect, but it is through Christ that I can become strong. That through Him, and his atonement, that I am able to change myself. To get rid of my bad habits and develop new ones that will help me to further reach the great potential that I have as a son of God.
Paul teaches this to us clearly in 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul had weaknesses and trials, and he too knew that it was through these trials that he would be made strong, that through his weaknesses the Lord could show forth His power. That through his “thorn in the flesh”, he would be able to become more perfect. He then went on in verse 10 of the same chapter to teach, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
I think back on trials that I have had, and when looking back, I am able to clearly see the hand of the Lord helping me to get through them. To see His support and His love throughout the whole trial. I can see how much he loves me, and how he is the perfect parent. He knows how to succor me, and knows what is best for me. He knows when I need to be chastened, and knows what trials will be given to me. He also will support me through these trials when I trust in him. Alma teaches Shiblon this in Alma 38:5, “And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” Becoming perfect is not an easy route, but it is one that the Lord himself has walked. He went first and blazed the trail for us. He built the bridges over the pitfalls that we have to overcome. He has taken everything upon himself, and is a refining fire. He tries us so that our impurities may be burned out of us, so that we can be cleansed by the Holy Ghost, and become a new creature. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” Jesus Christ is the only way to find happiness, and though trials will come, they are things that help change and mold us in His hands. He never forgets about us for we are “graven” upon his hands. 1st Nephi 21:16 “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” I also know that Christ refines us through our trials, 1st Nephi 20:10 “For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” I know that the Lord is guiding me down the path that He wants me to take. I will run into trials, either by my own choices, or because I need to learn something from them, but I know that Christ will always be there to help me, and as much as I trust in Him, even so much will He help me.