But it is in storms that He does his finest work, for it is in storms that He has our keenest attention. -Max Lucado
I've been thinking a lot about opposition/ trials/ sadness/ trouble/ sin/ weakness/ difficulty i.e. everything that isn't easy about life and that we tend not to equate with happiness. In the set-up for the quote above, the author brings up how we often expect God to come to us in "peaceful hymns or Easter Sundays or quiet retreats" and that we don't anticipate "to see him in a bear market, pink slip, lawsuit, foreclosure, or war" (source).
When I consider the moments when I felt the Spirit the strongest, when I reflect on the times I changed the most, when I admit to myself when I felt the closest to my Savior... it was in the midst of opposition/ trials/ sadness/ trouble/ sin/ weakness/ difficulty -- it was in the storms.
And this is all obvious stuff right? I'm not telling you anything you haven't heard before. But I feel the need to share this now because I realized that for me, there was a definable moment when this concept really sunk in... and it changed EVERYTHING... it changed me...
I guess it was almost like in Mosiah, after King Benjamin finishes speaking to his people, and they say:
"Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2)In my case, I read something, I don't even remember what exactly (an article in The Ensign I think?) along the lines of how every trial comes to us with a gift in its hands -- and I felt the truth of it so strongly. But then it didn't stop there, because from that moment on, without that much conscious effort on my part, I just started planning out how to find that gift -- I began anticipating and searching for God as I entered each new struggle. It wasn't a gradual shift, like so many others in my life (and how change usually happens) but a complete switch in my attitude towards hard things in my life which reflected in many of my actions -- suddenly my heart was just different.
It wasn't nearly so grand as the people of King Benjamin, or so complete a turn around like that of Alma the Younger or Paul. It was, in the scheme of things, a very small thing in a life still very much in need of many more changes... but it is still nonetheless a real moment in my life when I experienced a near instantaneous change in my heart.
To someone who has had to be forcefully molded bit by bit, bent a little trial by trial, & made to understand truth sliver by sliver, this small yet huge opening of the windows of heaven is a true indicator to me of the love, tender mercy, and grace of my Heavenly Father. To me it shows that while yes, it is in the storms that God does great work on our souls, there are times when He will simply reach into our open hearts and lift us gently to a higher and nobler place.