Choosing to Be of Good Cheer

We are, or at least should be, a people of vision and faith.

President Eyring, in the October 2017 General Conference shared that “it takes faith to believe that the resurrected Lord is watching over the daily details of His kingdom. It takes faith to believe that He calls imperfect people into positions of trust. It takes faith to believe that He knows the people He calls perfectly, both their capacities and their potential, and so makes no mistakes in His calls.”

Though referencing Church callings, this same guidance is more than appropriate for the less formal callings we receive in day-to-day life such as as mother, father, son, daughter, friend, and so on…possibly even asking ourselves whether or not we’ve been called into the world into the right time or the right place.

I currently work in shipbuilding and maintenance. Nimitz Class aircraft carriers, one of the most complex pieces of machinery ever designed by man, were designed before I was born. With the technology of the day they certainly had an idea about what the ship would ultimately look like but not necessarily what it would look like at each interim stage of construction. In other words, they had final drawings but not a drawing for every conceivable intermediate stage of construction. During construction, I’m sure they uncovered issues for which they hadn’t explicitly planned. Regardless, they knew what the final product was supposed to look like and what it was supposed to do so they could, with that vision in mind, develop solutions to satisfy the end goal. The “goal” was not to solve the particular problem of the day but to build a warship.

The point I’m attempting to make is that for tasks or trials so complex we must maintain a vision of the end goal while dealing with routine, or not so routine, challenges be they small or large, simple or serious. Dealing with or solving daily trials and challenges isn’t and shouldn’t be the actual goal. If we spend our lives reveling in problem solving then we may just miss the point.

In this comparison there are parallels with the Plan of Salvation. When we live our lives with a Christ centered focus, we are looking forward to the end goal, to be like Him. When we lose ourselves in day-to-day trials, we may come to feel buried beyond the hope of rescue or possibly even numbed to the point of not feeling at all.

Manufacturers building parts for a ship may not know all the details of the final ship design. Regardless they design their parts against standards that will ensure the final component will fit in the space provided and perform the function for which it’s intended. They know the functionality that they provide will support the ultimate mission of the ship. This is not really that much different than the guidance, or “specifications,” we get from the Scriptures telling us how to best live our lives and truly become more Christ-like.

In our lives, today, we should be working to ensure we’re meeting the “specifications” to ensure that we will fit in the final design which the Lord has envisioned. We may not be able to see right now how or where we will fit but the Scriptures provide all we need to know about the functionality we should provide.

As ships age, and for aircraft carriers this is a 50 year life-cycle, new technologies emerge, new threats emerge, and we are able to then take the original design and adapt it to perform functions that were not previously envisioned by its designers. Knowing and understanding the scriptural “specifications” can allow us to be molded by our Creator who, in difference to ship designers, actually does know what we each individually need to meet our ultimate design.

As we move through our lives, we’ll face trials and challenges. Some divinely inspired, some a result of our own actions, and some a result of the actions and agency of others. Regardless of the source, we cannot allow ourselves to become so lost in the struggle that it’s all we see. We’re counseled to fast, pray, and read the Scriptures because those are the things that will help us to see, and hopefully have a vision of, the real goal. We’re counseled to serve one another because it allows us to see ourselves as He sees us.

Each day we change. Each day we learn more about ourselves. The world around us also changes and the Lord gives us experience and help so that we have what we need to become what He knows we already are…children of an immortal and eternal Father in Heaven.

Regardless of the challenges we face each day, our goal should be the same; to try and see what He sees in us and others – to support one another along the journey of life – to care for one another.

Depression, anger, and frustration are all feelings that can result from seeing solutions to life’s problems as finish lines vice refining steps along the path. We shouldn’t ever feel that we are just one or two decisions away from an “easy” life. If we do, we will quickly find disappointment and despair. We are here to be tried and challenged and that really isn’t a bad thing.

In the most recent General Conference, Elder Christofferson shared that “It is challenging but vital to remain firm and steadfast when we find ourselves being refined “in the furnace of affliction,” something that comes soon or late to all of us in mortality. Without God, these dark experiences tend to despondency, despair, and even bitterness. With God, comfort replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow. Remaining firm in the faith of Christ will bring His sustaining grace and support. He will convert trial into blessing and, in Isaiah’s words, “give … beauty for ashes.””

In this week’s “Come Follow Me” lesson, President Ezra Taft Benson teaches that “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 42). Adapting a comment commonly attributed to Michelangelo; the Master Sculptor, in this case referring to our Father in Heaven, is regularly chipping away the unnecessary stone to reveal the work of art that is already present within the stone – within each of us. We need to have faith enough to be obedient and let Him do it.

A few days ago, Elder Rasband in a devotional for Church Educational System (CES) leaders, stated that “The Lord lifts His servants, telling them to be of “good cheer.”  To be of good cheer is to trust Him when things don’t work as we planned,” he said. “It means to soldier on when difficult twists take us in unexpected directions, when tragedy and hardship shatter our dreams.”

Make a choice to be of “good cheer” and trust the Lord in the face of adversity and trial. He may not solve the problem for you. He may not give you what you want. He will however give you what you need.

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