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Trials

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(C) Copyright 1998 by Massimo Franceschini

Trials, a part of the Plan, of the faith and above all, the test of free agency: Abraham 3:25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

When God created the earth and put on it the man the first commandment He gave to him was in genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,
The second one was given in Genesis 2:16-17And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:


Genesis 2:17
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
It is clear that a command implies a trial: you could obey or not. I don't want to explain again the problem involved in the fallen. I have quoted those two verses only to make clear that the trials were at the very beginning. There are many kind of trials. Tests to prove our faith, to prove our obedience, to prove our love. For example the story of Abraham it was to prove his faithfulness, or obedience, we know for sure that Abraham had faith in the Lord. He did always His will in many other occasions. But at this point something very strange was asked to him, something against the same law of God: to make an human sacrifice. Abraham knew for sure that God hated this kind of things, even he was saved by Jehovah on the altar in his homeland when he was ready to be sacrificed. More than that God at that point was asking to sacrifice the only one son he had. A special son, by which God had promised to him to bless all the nation of the earth. And now God was asking to sacrifice this son. Did it make sense? Not at all. Even there was already the commandment: do not kill! Genesis 9:5-6
And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

Genesis 9:6
6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Many people are astonished by the Book of Mormon, when Nephi received the same command by the Holy Ghost to kill Laban. This is the concept: we have to live by every words coming from the mouth of the Lord, it doesn't matter what word He speaks. Abraham knew this particular doctrine and instead to argue with the Lord and discuss the matter, He did right the way without any problem.
The Rebekah's example, the future wife of Isaac, it is a great example how God gives trials to the people to test the faith of them. She didn't know anything about Isaac, Only she knew that the thing was coming from the Lord, that it was enough for her to get marry an unknown person. She could say:" I don't like him, or I don't know Him. She could appeal to the free agency, she could do that without any problem, God couldn't force her. Probably choosing different she would have lost a bunch of blessings. But like we saw in "Faith and free agency" the spontaneous gift of the free will to God it is the greatest trial of faith in Him and faith in His promises too. Surely, being God love, the greatest example of trial of love toward Him, only Christ could do that, when He said:" Abba Father if you want remove this cup....... Also here we see that Jesus used His free agency to avoid to use it, because He had a perfect faith in His Father and His rewards. Philippians 2:8-9
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:9
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Surely the trial of Job was a trial of perseverance.
There is another consideration to do on the trials. Those that we have already quoted are trials coming from the Lord, but what we could say regarding the trials that ourselves provoke. Let's make simple examples. If we don't observe the word of wisdom, smoking 1 pack or two of cigarettes, should we be stupefied if in the future we will have a cancer or an emphysema? What about driving and drinking and having a terrible crush? What about no keeping the law of chastity and find out that probably you have the aids? Could I say that God is proving myself, or am I?
We could read 1 Kings 8:33-35
When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:

1 Kings 8:34
34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.

1 Kings 8:35
35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:

Job 5:17
Behold, happy [is] the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
Job 38:3-4
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

Job 38:4
4 ¶ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

Let's turn back to the real trials. I truly believe that specially the special people need the trials, surely not every day,, but surely when the time is ripe, God will give them that kind of trial that it will permit them to grow spiritually "blessed is the man that overcome the trial". Let's do other examples. Surely Lehi and his family were thinking what great trial was to leave Jerusalem, today they surely know that they were laying the base for their exaltation. Surely when Nephi did break his bow, it was necessary to develop their faith, father Lehi mourned a lot at that time, this is the evidence for him to develop his faith. It was necessary because God was to give them a special device, working by faith, the Liahona! We can easily say that was a proof foreseen from the divine plan, not always the trials are meaning divine punishment, many of them are not in that context. Jesus had many trials but none of them was because he was missing something.
On the other hand there are trials that are coming by disobedience. The Temple at Adam ondi Adam was not built because of the disobedience of the people. We have to keep on mind that when God promise something surely He will maintain His promise, but surely His promise is based on obedience not on disobedience.
D&A 82:10
I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

There are trials that we desire to face to show our braveheart and usually we lose them see Numbers 14:39-41
And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.

40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we [be here], and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.

41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
Trials are necessary to break the habit to the sacred things, see the story of Jared's brother Helaman 11:4-7
O Lord, do not suffer that this people shall be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee.

5 And so it was done, according to the words of Nephi. And there was a great famine upon the land, among all the people of Nephi. And thus in the seventy and fourth year the famine did continue, and the work of destruction did cease by the sword but became sore by famine.

6 And this work of destruction did also continue in the seventy and fifth year. For the earth was smitten that it was dry, and did not yield forth grain in the season of grain; and the whole earth was smitten, even among the Lamanites as well as among the Nephites, so that they were smitten that they did perish by thousands in the more wicked parts of the land.

7 And it came to pass that the people saw that they were about to perish by famine, and they began to remember the Lord their God; and they began to remember the words of Nephi.

To finish we can say that trials, if they are coming from God and are not the fruit of disobedience, THEY ARE THE NEEDED BLESSINGS to reinforce faith, disposition and to learn and appreciate in full the gift of the life, further to allow mankind the full knowledge of good and evil. In all these cases we should take the attitude of Job.
Job 27:3-6
All the while my breath [is] in me, and the spirit of God [is] in my nostrils
4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.

5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.

6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach [me] so long as I live.
or to think like Paul in Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
This is the right attitude that really it develops faith without which it is impossible to please Him.
We have seen the part in which the trials reinforce faith, surely these even help to develop our free agency. We have to keep on mind, like I wrote on my other article (Faith and free agency) faith is directly connected to the free agency, they are united in the purpose, therefore if the trials have influence on faith they should have influence even on the free agency, in what way?
In the preexistence we fought to obtain or better to maintain the free agency, why" Because it was the only mean to progress in the life. To take the best advantage of it, like everything else you have to use it, or better exercise it. Faith is a principle of power and it goes together with the free will. The Devil fights both of them. God support both of them. In the other denominations, like I wrote in "Faith and free agency", Satan teaches predestination, this takes away the free agency, or the infants' baptism that is the absolute negation of this sacred principle. In the world through dictatorships and the philosophy of atheism, he tries to destroy both of these principles. Did you know that an half of the world is ruled by dictatorship?
How we have seen previously the trials are to exercise faith and the free agency. Take a closer look to the final trial in the wilderness for Jesus Himself: Satan tempted in any way Jesus, that He was very weak after 40 days of fasting. His answers were the fruit not only by His personal faith but above all of His personal free will. I remember a brother that he used to say: anytime I feel the Satan's pressure stronger I go inactive to avoid it. So he solved the problem exercising his free agency but not the faith.
I know my future because I will build it.
Neither Cain was predestined Genesis 4:7-8
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

8 ¶ And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
Cain in the verse 8 used his free will but not the faith, why didn't he exercise the faith? Moses 5:23
If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;

He didn't keep the commandments. in Moses 5:6
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
Adam exercised faith and free agency at the same time. We can't exercise faith without free agency but it is impossible to do the contrary, we saw it. Cain introduced the antiGospel that it was explained to Adam and he was the first antichrist. Cain didn't exercise faith, in fact he didn't accepted the God's counsel see Moses 5:16
And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?
He didn't keep the commandments see verse 18
And Cain loved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying: Make an offering unto the Lord.
The Lord gave him the gift of repentance
If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;
In the verse 30 Satan does what he will do later with Jesus and with every person seeking for righteousness: It offers to be a servant to Cain.
And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.

Christ gave His life spontaneously and gave His personal free will to the Father (He exercised faith and free agency at the same time to the best, at the first moment you can think that he was exercising just faith, in reality was His free agency, connected to faith to determine His resolution.
We have to understand that the perfect faith it is a result of a faith built up day by day, line upon line, precept on precept, by the trials and the right exercise of the free agency. Jesus had learned to act always and however in tuning with His Father, Who is representing the perfect Justice, because it was not the case he would cease to be God. Cain, instead, didn't give his life but he took his brother's life without any good reason, but to steal. His first words:" I am free" let us understand that he didn't want to be leaded neither suggested by God. This was his proper personal free agency that he could exercise, but where was the faith in God? Jesus loved His fellowman and gave His life for him. Cain to the first question from God:" Where is your brother?" He answered:" I don't know, Am I the guardian of my brother?"
So it is possible to see that since from the very beginning there was this opposition in the 2 different plans explained in the celestial kingdom, the battle was already on earth and faith and free will were the essential battlefields.
We are asked to be braveheart in the testimony of Jesus. What it does mean? It means that we should exercise faith and free agency in the correct way. We think that courage is connected only to faith, while it is connected even with the free agency, in fact it takes a lot courage, sometimes, to take the right decisions. Never happened to you to say a thing, but in reality to say another different thing? Sometimes we don't say what we really think to don't have any problem. I am not saying that to be sincere you have to offend someone, I will try to make examples: Jesus rebuked the Jews not because he didn't love them, but just because he Loved them. Paul rebuked Peter because he loved him, being him the chief of the Apostles, maybe he could think :It would have been better to stay silent.
Many times we are asked a suggestion and we are diplomatic, we don't say what we really are thinking, sure if the jeopardy is to offend someone of something no important, this is a good way to do, but there are moments in which we are asked to be witnesses of God, well in that moment diplomacy is not the best thing to do. In those moments we should exercise faith and free agency. The one, who suffocate his personal thinking and his conscience, he is making violence to himself. who acts in free will and good will, even though could be wrong, he will have the forgiveness of everybody. The two sons of the Parabola are showing that the first one seemed to be loyal and faithful, instead was the opposite. The second one that he seemed unkind and unfaithful, was loyal, because he said what he really thought in that moment and faithful because he did what he was asked for. God appreciates loyalty, sincerity and fidelity. Making choices is not easy, but our future ground and above all the eternal ground it will be surely determinate from our choices, whether the little ones or the big ones. The whole life is influenced from our choices and this is the result from the exercise of our free agency and faith. The farmer seeding is the best example for this idea. He is exercising his free agency, seeding but he has also faith in what will happen at the end.
On my personal opinion the best section in Doctrine and covenants is D&C 121. It speaks in a extraordinary way of what God is thinking about the free agency. D&A 121:36
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
Here it is, we have the perfection here, no better way.
what about this one? verse 37
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
We have here an important remarks regarding the free agency of our fellow man. verse 39
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

In the verse 40 it is explained that the ones respecting the free agency are the chosen ones
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
In the 41 explains what qualities are necessary to fulfill the purpose:
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

This part of this section is an Hymn to the exercise and respect of the free agency.
To finish we can say, we can't and we shouldn't avoid trials, they are too much necessary to our spiritual progress and for our exaltation. Sometimes we must not only obey, but we have to obey against a great opposition. we should understand that more opposition we find and bigger it will be the reward, not only if Satan is making great opposition we could be sure that we are on the right path. We should keep on mind that we can't be tempted beyond our power, therefore we have the power to overcome the problem, if we are not able to do it is only because we have missing something. If we will be faithful and obedient the time will come in which the trial will be dissolved like snow by the sun, because the celestial sun will be on the sky and the darkness will be gone.

Molinos said:

thou art never at any time nearer to God than when under tribulation, which he permits for the purification and beautifying of the soul

An unidentified author said

Who never mourned hath never known what treasures grief reveals, the sympathies that humanize, the tenderness that heals.

No man comes into this real of earth without suffering. Augustine said "God had one son on earth without sin but never one without suffering.

Another unidentified one

Pain stayed so long, I said to him today, "I will not have you with me anymore" I stamped my foot and said "Be on your way" and paused there, startled at the look he wore. "I, who have been your friend" he said to me; "I, who have been your teacher, all you know of understanding love, of sympathy and patience I have taught you> Shall I go?

 

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