At age 22 while living in Mongolia I developed a severe chronic pain condition that effects every aspect of my life. Continuing this blog reminds me that life's challenges are stepping stones meant to lift us, not roadblocks meant to defeat us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why the hardships and suffering?

I feel bad, it is easy to be depressing when writing about chronic pain and its effects on life, but I really don't mean to be a downer.
I also don't want to paint a glossy and happy picture, one where faith simply conquers and hope never ever gives in to despair. I'm not saying that faith doesn't always conquer, because it does. Its just that no matter how much faith we have, we still get to taste a little bit of the bitter. And that's the way its supposed to be. "For if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet" (Doctrine and Covenants 29:39).
I've been in Utah for several weeks, and things are good. I'm a firm believer in having goals to actively work towards, it is when we stop trying that life really becomes meaningless. It is very refreshing to be taking steps forward again. The pain is still there, worse actually, but I suspect that is from being more active than I was at home. I came out here with the hopes of taking 14 credit hours and physically getting stronger and stronger as I walked to and from class. But after trying and failing, I now have a handicap parking pass that has become a necessity. I also had to petition the scholarship committee to let me take less credit hours, and I've very grateful that they approved.
I'm still working on getting to know people again, but it is hard when you look perfectly fine yet hurt so much. I've tried explaining it to a few people, but they see me from the outside and I don't blame them for not taking me seriously. I can barely shower and get to class, so going to all the get-to-know you social events is usually out of the question. And here I go being depressing again. Sorry!
The point is that life is just plain hard sometimes. Not just for me, for everybody. There is so much suffering that goes on in this world. And some poor strong souls seem to only get served the bitter. I have so much in my life that is sweet, no matter how much I hurt I have access to excellent medical care, my family, friends, a warm and comfortable bed, and plenty of food. I met many in Mongolia who have none of those things, PLUS serious and painful health problems. As missionaries the main message that we teach is that "God love us." But many people we taught had a hard time believing that. They saw all the hurt, loneliness, pain and evil around them and found it really hard to believe that anyone loved them, let alone a divine being, one capable of stopping all the hurt in their lives.
While trying to balance my knowledge of God's perfect love for us, and all the seemingly contradictory pain and suffering in the world, I've come to this conclusion. He must see and know something that we don't. He must know that the reward is so beautiful, happy, and perfect that it all will be so worth it. He must know that the lessons we learn are so valuable, so important, so impossible to learn any other way that He lets the hardships befall us. And He must know that we can do it. No parent wants their children to fail. When there is very little else to take comfort in, remember that God does not want you to fail. He won't give you more than He knows you can handle. I have seriously doubted His judgement at times, felt like I'm drowning under all the weight and pressure, but He has never let me slip under.
In His own words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants,

"If thou art called to pass through tribulation;
if thou art in perils among false brethren;
if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
If thou art accursed with all manner of false accusations;
if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age,
shall cling to thy garments, and shall say,
My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us?
O, my father, what are the men going to do with you?
and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison,
and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers,
and the sentence of death passed upon thee;
if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee;
if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness,
and all the elements combine to hedge up the way;
and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee,
know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee;
for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."

- Doctrine and Covenants 122:5-9

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