From the Life of Lorenzo Snow
Lorenzo Snow had a strong work ethic. He taught “We have to exert ourselves. … Remaining idle without putting ourselves into action is of no use.” But he also taught that we can’t do everything ourselves. We need God’s help in our lives: “We, as Latter-day Saints, should understand and bear in mind that salvation comes through the grace of God.” President Eliza Snow described her brother Lorenzo as someone who had “unshaken confidence in [God’s] assisting power and grace.” She said that he “knew in whom he trusted” and therefore was able to endure “every hardship, every opposition” and “overcome every obstacle.” One of the most empowering moments of my life was realizing that I was incapable of doing everything right, and that God did not expect that of me. I would love to see this lesson focus on the grace that Lorenzo Snow taught and on the variety of ways God can help us.
With God’s help, we can do anything required of us.
In this section, Snow retells the story of the rich young man who asked Christ what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Christ tells him to give up all he has to the poor. (Matthew 19) Snow used this as an example of the law of obedience, suggesting that Christ told this young man to give his money away as a test of his obedience. But as I read this story, I came to a different conclusion. Christ’s message was one of love and compassion. I have always thought that his request was to teach this young man to care for the people around him, to be a blessing to those he came in contact with.
God can help us do what is required of us, but often that help comes from other people. Spencer W. Kimball explained: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs” (“Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, p. 5). We can learn two things from this. First, we can be the answers to other people’s prayers. Second, we can depend on others to help answer our prayers. Often we focus on how we can serve others, but feel guilty accepting service or asking for help.
So, who can we call on to help us in times of struggle. Some of the answers I came up with were:
Doctors and psychologists: I believe medical advances are in many ways inspired by God. It is okay to get treatment for physical and metal illnesses. Part of Lorenzo Snow’s advice was to work hard instead of expecting God to fix everything for us. Getting medical help is working towards getting what you need.
Visiting and home teachers: How often are we asked if we need help? And how often do we take people up on it?
Family and friends: I know I would do anything I could do to help my family and friends. I assume they feel similarly about me. But I feel that even though I would answer their call for help, I can’t call on them. That is something I need to change.
God has promised to help us in our personal efforts to live the gospel.
I love the first part of the first paragraph in this section. “In and of ourselves we cannot possibly comply with all the commandments that God has given unto us. Jesus himself could not without divine aid from His Father accomplish His work. He said on one occasion, “I can of mine own self do nothing, as I hear I judge and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.” [John 5:30.]” I know that I often take the commandment to be perfect too seriously and forget that the Atonement exists. I think many of us feel the Atonement is a last resort, only to be used in dire circumstances. We forget that the Atonement was for all sins and all pains, not just the big ones. We don’t have to do everything right. We can’t do everything right. That is why the Atonement exists. Instead of trying not to use it, how can we take advantage of it freely and without guilt? How can we rely on God instead of ourselves?
When we participate in God’s work, we need God’s help.
God’s work is going to be individual for each of us; each of us have different gifts and callings. When discussing God’s work, we tend to use the same kinds of examples, like missions, church leadership and family relationships. But what other things in our lives are God’s work? Education? Career? Life goals? Other relationships? Pets? Our involvement in non-church organizations? How can we find God’s hand in every aspect of our lives?