...verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the rewards of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

For after much tribulation come the blessings...
(D&C 58 2-4, emphasis added)

For whatever reason, every time I've read this scripture in the past, I somehow skipped over the "much" part of "much tribulation." The scripture simply meant that with all tribulation comes blessings - every cloud has a silver lining.

But with much added back in, it tells a completely different story. Without much, it suggests a Lord who immediately hears and delivers the faithful when they suffer. With it, the scripture tells of pioneers who pull handcarts thousands of miles... Israelites who wander in the desert for 40 years... Abraham and Sariah and Zacharias and Elizabeth who pray for children for decades... a woman with an issue of blood who spends all her substance and time trying to become whole... men and women who live whole lives with disease and disability... and seemingly unsolvable trials that pull at the fabric of mortality... before arriving in Zion, finding the Promised Land, having children, or being healed.

For a long time I honestly believed that if I was righteous enough, the Lord would quickly answer all my prayers exactly the way I wanted Him to. Specifically, if I did everything right, over a short period of time (or at most a few years) my same-sex attraction would disappear, leaving ardent love for a girl in its place. It makes sense then why some of the most difficult moments of my life were when, after honestly trying to live the gospel to the absolute fullest possible for multiple years and passing important milestones (complete a faithful mission, etc), I felt like my trials were becoming heavier... not easier. I definitely didn't understand this scripture.

Today, looking back on my trials and forward to the future, I can easily say that it's worth it to stay true to the gospel. My life, while a total and complete mess, is guided by God... and I find honest hope and happiness in doing my best. My date tonight was even fun.

But sometimes it's hard to look forward, or even backwards, on trials with much hope. When I'm in the middle of "much tribulation," the most important part of this scripture isn't the promise that someday I'll be blessed for my goodness... whenever someday comes. The most important part is the first phrase: blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death... the promise that, no matter what faces me, the way to be blessed (and find happiness, peace, and whatever else I need, since those are definitely blessings) is to keep the commandments, no matter what the consequence.

Another idea that I've somehow missed is the thought that those who are faithful in tribulation receive greater rewards. Up until a few moments ago, I was of the opinion that everyone who made it, made it... and there wasn't really a huge distinction after that. Trials and tribulations were, in my mind, simply methods that the Lord uses to give me a better chance to return to Him... the exact same way He uses blessings or talents or relationships with others. I'm not exactly sure what it means that those who are faithful in tribulation receive greater rewards... do they have more knowledge? Are they more committed to living the commandments? I think that, at least in my case, living in tribulation has taught me greater faith and compassion... because I have to have them to survive.

For after much tribulation come the blessings...

My patriarchal blessing says that the Lord has a lot in store for me... which probably means I have a long way to walk before I get there.
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