There is one conversation I have had over and over again.
I’ve had it at the end of a long temple shift with a fellow ordinance worker. I’ve had it over a huge plate of carne asada nachos with my best friend. I’ve had it with God in my closet, collapsed on a pile of dirty clothes.
Two things are always the same about this conversation. First, the pain. Second, the confusion.
I bet you’ve had this conversation too.
“I’ve tried so hard to do everything right. I’ve nothing left to give or to try. How did everything end up so wrong?”
Whether we like to admit it or not, we live in a culture of expectations. When we read our scriptures, when we go to church, when we attend the temple, when we serve, we expect something.
We expect something good.
Good for good.
It makes sense. At first glance, a lot of evidence points to this cut and dry exchange. Obedience for blessings. One of the main lessons from the Book of Mormon is that “if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land” and the scriptures describe the “the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God,” saying they are “blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual.”
So, what does it mean when we follow the commandments to the best of our abilities, yet we do not see these promised blessings in our lives? Does it mean we haven’t tried hard enough? Has God forsaken us? Does God even care?
I’ve asked myself these questions. I’ve come to learn that while it is sure and true that God is kind and has a multitude of blessings to give, it is a misconception that good will come to us simply because of our goodness.
In fact, that line of thinking is often in direct opposition with God’s plan for us. God plans to exalt us, to lift us to glory, and bring us home. And make no mistake about it, God is completely serious about this work of his.
He cares about our comfort. He cares about our feelings. He cares about our struggles. He cares about our obedience and he cares about our goodness.
It is just that, when the scales are weighed, he cares about us coming home to him more.
An easy way to encapsulate this plan of salvation is in the words, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.”
Do we remember? Jesus Christ was and is perfectly obedient, yet nothing good came to him. He was belittled, beaten, and betrayed. He died for us. If we truly want to be like Jesus, we need to follow his example. When our obedience does not bring us what we wish, when things even get worse, will stay true?
It is also important to remember that God doesn’t always bless us in the way we wish. Consider this bit of advice from Elder Donald Hallstrom: “Our supreme focus should be on the spiritual miracles that are available to all of God’s children.”
How are you becoming more like Christ? What do you learn about the nature of God through a trial? How are you able to serve others? These questions can help us find the spiritual miracles Elder Hallstrom is talking about.
It isn’t easy to go without or wait for the desires of our heart. However, as we better understand the will and understanding of God, we can increase in faith.