Painting by Cloy Kent

Painting by Cloy Kent

Often when I have an idea to write about, I’ll begin but soon get mired in complexity as one idea leads to another.  I end up thinking of different scriptures or talks that relate to the topic, and what began as a simple idea becomes a little cumbersome.  Thus I now have many drafts at various stages of completion.  I’m finding it is much easier to comment on other blogs than to write my own post here.

While reading a favorite blog today I was reminded of the story of Francis Webster, a pioneer from the Martin handcart company.  Many are familiar with him as the account has been published in various manuals over the years.  Familiar or not, it is worth reading, and rather than recounting it myself, you can read about Francis’ experience here.

These handcart pioneers experienced adversity in the form of malnutrition and hunger, disease and illness, and exposure to freezing temperatures.  Few of us can imagine the difficulty of walking, often barefoot, between 14 and 20 miles per day, with very little to eat.  We cannot fathom trudging through snowstorms, up hills and mountains, day after day.  It is a miracle that so many survived this 1300-mile journey.

As Brother Webster points out, the pioneers themselves were not critical of the leaders whose decision to leave late in the season lead to suffering and death beyond what other handcart companies experienced.  Rather, Brother Webster and most likely others of the Martin and Willey companies recognized that the extreme adversity they experienced lead them to rely on God and to know Him personally; they saw this as a great blessing.

So, this leads to my questions:  are adversity and suffering required for us to to personally know God?  In our lives of relative comfort and ease, can we develop this same personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?  What are the keys to developing this relationship?

I feel as though my somewhat troublefree life has resulted too often in complacency.  By no means is my life perfect- I have many of the same concerns and issues that we all struggle with- but I believe that my challenge is to learn to rely on God and to come to know him more personally without being compelled to do so by adversity.  While I’m not too worried about “being carefully lead down to hell,” I do worry about being “lulled into security” such that I don’t sufficiently exercise faith, adequately repent, or humbly become as valiant of a servant as I am capable of becoming.

I definitely do not have all of the answers and hope that others will share ideas, but here are my thoughts about coming to know God in the absence of adversity:

  • Recognize His love and be grateful for His many blessings
  • Seek to know and to do His will
  • Practice reaching out and selflessly serving others
  • Put Him first in my life; direct my thoughts and efforts toward Him and His work

It is easy to understand and to discuss these principles; the challenge comes in actually living them….

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