Poll: Trials

None of us are strangers to hardship. We all have and all will experience a form of difficulty in this life and struggle to find strength and comfort and meaning in suffering. For some it will be related to family and friends, for others it will be so personal that we don’t feel able to share our trials with those around us. But if you are viewing life through a Mormon lens, you are acquainted with the idea of God knowing your “trials and tribulations”. You may even believe that your suffering is part of the plan for your life and meant to stretch you and test you. And in these inevitabilities of living on earth, we all come to view and experience God differently. Everyone relates to God in their own way, even if that means not at all. Please share with us how or even whether a trial changes your relationship to God in this week’s poll. And feel free, as always, to share your personal experiences and opinions with our community in the comments.

Corktree

Corktree is exploring life and spirituality in new ways and new environments while studying midwifery, reiki, yoga, homeopathy, herbology and evolutionary nutrition. She has 3 daughters and one son, which add up to what now feels like an enormous family of 6.

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8 Responses

  1. Alisa says:

    Thanks for posting this question. I have asked this question because when I was really studying my scriptures, they seemed to show that when people were prosperous, they were more likely to forget God (the whole Pride Cycle thing). Many of my experiences though have been that I am more likely to feel God is a close, loving parent, when things are going well for me. The hard times in my life have given me a depth of character, but they have also robbed me of a childlike faith and appreciation for God.

    I have learned the hard way that God will not always take care of my needs, even in the hardest times. And I feel God certainly does try people beyond their ability to bear it, and doesn’t intervene in all kinds of horror against the innocent of the earth. Some say we must have our agency (but this mr. deity episode tests this idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzf8q9QHfhI), but have a hard time seeing why he’d help me find my keys and let little girls be raped by the hundreds in Africa on the same day. It’s a very troubling question to me.

  2. Corktree says:

    I don’t know how to reconcile that either Alisa. At one point, I thought I had an answer that helped me understand the monumental suffering of others, but it must not have been a very good one because I can never remember it.

    For me, I definitely found it easier to feel close to God when I was doing everything “right” according to the LDS formula, and now that I’m struggling, I feel distant. I have a quote in my scriptures from seminary that says; “If you feel further from God today than yesterday, you can be sure who moved”. I don’t know how I feel about that anymore. I don’t really think God abandons us or chooses to bless one person more than another (as with car key revelations), but I also don’t think we have to have it all in place in order to feel that S/He’s there. I can accept it’s my general unwillingness to feel a presence, but it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. I don’t have any real answers either.

  3. ssj says:

    I don’t really consider my hardships trials anymore. I just look at it as the way life goes. My husband is about to graduate with a masters degree in civil engineering. Four or five years ago, he would have multiple job offers and this year he will be lucky if he has one by the time he graduates. It’s very stressful and frustrating for the both of us. Is it a trail from God? No, I just look at it as bad timing for college students to graduate. Although I can I can look to God for peace, I don’t believe my husband not having job is a teaching moment by God.

  4. TopHat says:

    I think I just slog through the lows and then when things get better, I try to thank God. I’ll admit I don’t necessarily turn to God right away because I don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t get better right away.

  5. Aimee says:

    For me this question is problematic because the world “trial” assumes that God has a hand in creating difficult experiences for me as some kind of test. I don’t believe that God acts like that in my life. Rather, I am more with ssj on this one–when I’m going through something that is difficult, I see it as a natural (though unwanted) part of life and I look to God for comfort and help in organizing my thoughts for how to overcome. If I thought that God was busy setting up pretty little packages of pain to test each person on the earth, I would not be a devotee.

    • Caroline says:

      “If I thought that God was busy setting up pretty little packages of pain to test each person on the earth, I would not be a devotee.”

      I agree, Aimee.

      For me, I think the kind of trial might make a difference. When I had my traumatic temple crisis, I pulled away from God because I didn’t want to be a near a God that designed things like that. Later, when I was able to remove that covenant and that hierarchy away from God and attribute it instead to culture, I was able to regain some of what I had before.

    • Corktree says:

      I do see how the word invokes a certain view ( a very Mormon view 🙂 ) But I also still believe that this whole life is a trial. Not that God directs all our joys and woes, but that he has defined this existence by allowing evil and pain and sadness. And that by the very nature and universality of struggling, we are all being tested, regardless of God’s micro-management of it. A lot like the the link Alisa shared.

  6. Nichelle says:

    I actually think it depends on the trial. I feel closer to God and have no doubts during hard times when they are things like: having no money, death of a loved one, struggles of motherhood, and other things I can’t think of right now.
    But, with other hard times I think I do doubt and feel more distant from God. Like right now I’m having a really hard time dealing with living in Arizona and the extreme and polarized opinions that have brought me a lot of prejudice and offensive comments. In dealing with these ridiculous people, I’ve been feeling some doubt and feeling like I don’t really want to talk to God about it yet. I’ve never thought of myself as a person who experienced doubt when going through a hard time. But I am thinking about doubt now and the feelings I am having and I just realized I might be a doubter in situations like this one. I think I’ve never really thought of it as doubt because I always know that no matter how messed up I allow myself to become in my faith, I will never deny or abandon my faith. But, just because I won’t abandon or deny, doesn’t mean I don’t doubt. But feeling more distant from God is only because I sometimes just don’t feel like talking to Him about my situation until I’ve cooled off a little.
    But during a marriage trial, or the hardship of losing someone you love, or something else along those lines, I talk to Him SO much more and my faith is only reinforced. I don’t know why there are different reactions depending on the trial for me, but that’s just how it is.

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