“…in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”Philippians 4:11
Paul wrote these words as he sat in jail, typically a hopeless and lonely place, especially in his time. He gives an invitation to find joy and contentment in our circumstances. He tells us this in an epistle about hope, about trying again, about soldiering on and about starting over.
He counsels us from his cell, almost 2000 years ago, that we can rejoice and have thanksgiving through trials and hardships.
How can this be?
How can we find peace through sorrow and disappointments?
How can we do the hard things set before us?
How will we ever get through the trials of life?
How in THIS world can you and I keep going forward through hardships and tribulations when all the world would have us do is give up?
In late 2007 I was able to attend a meeting where President Eyring spoke. It was a special adult stake meeting on a Saturday night. I sat in the front row on the left with pen in hand ready to write down every word given. It was during that time we were at the beginning stages of the housing market crisis. My husband, along with many in our ward, worked in the construction industry as the housing market boomed. When President Eyring visited, the jobs and work were starting to slow. The slight housing market changes were starting to affect us and they were starting to trickle throughout our community and would hit us and our ward hard in the coming year. I know many in attendance were as anxious as I to hear and hang off every word of the counsel from an apostle of God.
President Eyring started his talk sharing stories about his early days of being a parent. He talked about the difficulties and sometimes hard hurdles he faced while raising kids. He said he was struggling to find the bright spots in his day to day life. One day while pondering this season in his life, the Holy Ghost whispered a suggestion for him to keep a journal. Not just any journal, but one specifically to record God’s hand in his everyday life. He called them “testimony building moments.” As soon as he began the new habit of this special type of daily journal writing his eyes were opened to all the wonderful tender mercies in his life he wouldn’t otherwise notice. He saw the Lord’s hand perform miracles in his life and wrote them down to revisit later and for his children to learn as they experienced life’s trials for themselves.
He challenged us all in attendance to begin our journals and promised it would bless our lives to turn our focus to Christ and on our joys rather than our sorrows. He assured us we would draw near to the Lord as we witnessed him blessing our lives each and every day through our trials. He promised us strength through Christ. I believe he knew what was headed our way.
I took his advice immediately. I began to change the way I looked at my daily challenges. I began to see the Lord’s daily miracles in my life and I was rejoicing as Paul did and felt full of thanksgiving. Today as I reread the pages of my own journal I found our life situations deteriorated greatly through the pages. During these trials, I wrote down where I saw Christ’s love in my life. So many difficulties and tribulations came our way throughout that year.
I was brought to tears as I read each day of the journal, having forgotten the details that made it bearable for us to get through. For every challenge we faced, there was a tender mercy found and I wrote it down. Page after page. Every day something miraculous stole the attention away from the obstacle at hand and my joy was magnified. The trials of life paled in comparison to the blessings I was receiving at the Lord’s hand. I know my Savior loved me through it all.
My husband and I still fondly recount those days as blessed and inspired. We grew closer as a couple and our testimonies were fortified. I will be forever grateful for the prophetic counsel given from the Lord’s anointed Latter-day apostle. Just like Paul, we chose to look to our Savior. In his jail cell, Paul was doing this exact thing President Eyring challenged us to do. I looked for the miracles from Christ amidst the sorrows, and I found them.
I know we can find joy and contentment in our lives through Christ no matter our circumstance.
I now challenge you to do as President Eyring counseled and follow Paul’s example. Write down the tender mercies as you wade through the trials of our life. You will be blessed as we were, and as Paul was, as we turn our focus towards Jesus Christ and recognize and acknowledge His hand in the details of our lives.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”Philippians 4:8
As we do as Paul and President Eyring did and turn our focus on our blessings from Christ we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
I know through Christ I can do all things.
Even the hard things.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019, October 14-20.
- “Special Lessons” – Elder Ronald A. Rasband, April 2012.
- “True Happiness: A Conscious Decision” – Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, October 2005.
- “Be of Good Cheer” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell, October 1982.
You can follow Larin on Twitter @larknap.