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Why Does God Allow Trials?

Trials Are Necessary for Progress

Latter-day Saints are very familiar with trials and opposition, so they have long sought to understand it. LDS aren't masochists. They don't enjoy suffering, and they never seek it out. They hurt just like other people. However, they try to keep an eternal perspective, the view that this life is temporary and that their suffering has a purpose. They've learned that they can receive comfort from the Holy Ghost. They also understand that what they endure here—particularly well—will eventually be for their benefit.

John Taylor said, “I do not desire trials. I do not desire affliction. . .but if the earthquake bellows, the lightnings flash, the thunders roll, and the powers of darkness are let loose, and the spirit of evil is permitted to rage, and an evil influence is brought to bear on the saints, and my life with theirs is put to test, let it come, for we are the saints of the most High God, and all is well, all is peace, all is right, and will be, both in time and in eternity. . .I used to think, if I were the Lord, I would not suffer people to be tried as they are. But I have changed my mind on that subject. Now I think I would. . .because it purges out the meanness and corruption that stick around the saints, like flies around molasses” (Journal of Discourses 5:114-115).

Latter-day Saints believe that God “has designed that we shall struggle; that we should exercise faith; that we shall contend with the temptations of the adversary; that we shall overcome evil; and by a continued exercise of faith progress in the course that he has assigned to us. It is absolutely necessary that we be tempted and tried in order to that we should receive the glory that he has in store for us. What would our salvation amount to if we had never been tried, if we were to be placed in heaven without trial, without effort, without exertion upon our part to overcome evil and to contend with those influences that abound in this mortal state of existence. . . For let me say to you, my brethren and sisters, God designs that his children shall attain unto the Godhead—that is, if they will obey the laws necessary to bring them up to that exaltation, [so]. . . they must pass through just such scenes of trial and tribulation and affliction as we are subjected to in this mortal condition of existence” (George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 26: 189-190).

Trials Are Worse for the Faithful

Trials are the birthright of man, but particularly of the Saints. Bruce R. McConkie said in Mormon Doctrine that “Man has been placed on earth in a mortal body for the express purpose of undergoing trials, including hardship, suffering, and temptation. (Abra. 3:25-26)) This is particularly true of the saints, those who espouse the cause of truth and go forth on God's errand.. .'I will prove you in all things,' the Lord says, 'whether you will abide in my covenant even unto death, that you may be found worthy'. . .'My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom' (D&C 136:31)” (p. 808). “Sometimes the tests and trials of those who received the gospel far exceed any imposed upon worldly people. . .Saints in all ages have been commanded to lay all that they have upon the altar, sometimes even their very lives” (Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 106)

Brigham Young told the Saints that “God never bestows upon his people, or upon an individual, superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them, to prove that individual, or that people, to see whether they will keep their covenants with him, and keep in remembrance what he has shown them. Then the greater the vision, the greater the display of the power of the enemy. So when individuals are blessed with visions, revelations, and great manifestations, look out, then the devil is nigh you, and you will be tempted in proportion to the visions, revelation, or manifestations you received” (Journal of Discourses 3:205-206).

Wilford Woodruff, a great latter-day prophet, said that we sometimes “complain because we meet with oppression, persecution, and affliction. . . these things are the heritage of the Saints of God. . . I have never read of the people of God in any dispensation passing through life. . Without opposition of any kind. . .We have been called to pass through trials many times, and I do not think we should complain, because if we had no trials we should hardly feel at home in the other world in the company of the prophets and apostles who were sawn asunder, crucified, etc. for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Journal of Discourses 23:328).

Heber C. Kimball said that “The saints will be put to tests that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes” (Quoted by Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1978, p. 32).