Why do Some People Have More Trials than Others?

One of the most difficult aspects of mortality is that we experience trials. We know that the purpose of these trials is to help us become more like God. More refined. More pure. If God is patient, then I need to learn patience; and the primary way to learn patience is to not have something that is wanted. If God is forgiving (thank heavens!), then I need to learn how to be forgiving; that usually comes through being wrongfully hurt. And so on and so on. As Elder Orson F. Whitney so beautifully said:

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, 98).

However, there are times when it feels like we are getting more than our fair share of this trial business—times when we feel like there is a dark rain cloud following us around, while the sun is shining on everyone else.

rain-cloud

We might wonder why God gave us such a hard life, or so many problems, yet seems to have given so-and-so the perfect life, or hardly any problems at all! Thoughts like these can lead to bitterness and anger, instead of fostering the God-like attributes that our own personal gardens of Gethsemane are meant to grow. We would do well to remember this truth: trials come in different sizes and shapes, and are individually tailored by the Supreme Maker of the “robes of righteousness” (D&C 109:76). What may seem like a walk in the park to you is a climb up a hill for another, and vice versa. What may seem like a blessing to you—take being good looking for example—is a source of trial for another who struggles with temptations of chastity and vanity as a result of their beauty; temptations that those of us who don’t look like we belong on the cover a magazine don’t have to contend with as much. Elder Packer clarified this truth so well:

“Some are tested by poor health, some by a body that is deformed or homely. Others are tested by handsome and healthy bodies; some by the passion of youth; others by the erosions of age.

Some suffer disappointment in marriage, family problems; others live in poverty and obscurity. Some (perhaps this is the hardest test) find ease and luxury.

All are part of the test, and there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Choice,” Ensign, Nov 1980, 20).

Notice that he said the hardest trial is perhaps ease and luxury (what some others might consider a blessing! But, remember, it was the ease and luxury of the Nephites that lead them into apostasy. Perhaps ease and luxury are the hardest spiritual tests because it becomes easy to forget the Lord during those times. Our prayers are generally the most fervent during tough times, and the weakest during the smooth ones). More importantly, there is more equality in our individual doses of trials than we might realize upon first comparison. The Lord is mindful of us all, and we should take great comfort in the fact that we are all tested in our own unique and individual times, seasons, and ways that help us become more like God.

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