I listened to a wonderful little book on Audible recently called “Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings,” by Mark Eddy Smith. It’s currently free with an Audible Plus membership and is 3 hours in length. I actually enjoyed it so much I listened to it twice back-to-back. I highly recommend it for the virtuous lessons learned in the telling of the story Tolkien crafted. Lessons on friendship, courage, and love are among the many virtues with specific examples from the story.
Mr. Smith is a Christian who has obviously spent considerable time with the Bible and the Lord of the Rings. There is a real beauty in the way he writes and the delivery of the narration on Audible.
In one section, he happened to share Romans 8:28 which reads:
28. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
This immediately reminded me of D&C 90:24 which I printed and taped on my file cabinet next to where I sit typing at my computer. It reads:
24. Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.
I decided to see what other verses had a similar promise and did a search in Scripture Notes for:
Work together good
This generated 5 results including these 2 verses above. As I reviewed the 5 verses (which added D&C 98:3; 100:15; and 105:40), I wound up adding D&C 98:1-2 for context, and created a Collection Note from these 7 verses titling it “everything works together for our good.” Then I started studying the scriptures and pondering the topic.
My first thought was bad times happen to everyone and sometimes we have to live with consequences. We either make bad choices, or we’re being tested and having a learning experience.
Did we make a decision that involved less than perfect behavior? We may have to deal with a consequence, but if we learn from it, it’s still for our eternal good. Repent (course correct), visualize how we would handle it if it happened again, and if it happens again, do the correct thing.
If you made the best choices possible but something bad or tragic still happened, the scriptures teach us we can ask these questions to determine if we’re just getting a loving test from God:
If so, be comforted (D&C 100:15) in our suffering and know that these experiences are for an eternal (and possibly temporal) purpose. The results of the experience and suffering will be:
If you want to get through the suffering well, and complete the test you’ve been given, the counsel in these verses is:
In essence, if our hearts are right and we are trying our best to seek the Lord, in the end, everything we experience is for our benefit and the glory of the Lord. Remember, he wants to grant us eternal life. Be grateful for everything, and you’ll come out on top no matter what life throws at you.
I don’t always react so well, but here’s a recent story that happened to me. It was during a time I had taken up a 4 week challenge to write things I was grateful for every day and I remember walking away from a fairly negative situation thinking, “I’m grateful for the clarity that just gave me.” I still wrestled a little for a few days and felt like Satan kept trying to twist things inside of me, but each time I reminded myself it was a positive thing that would allow me to stay motivated by understanding the true relationship there. This really helped me not be negative about what happened.
If we are living right and trying our best to be in tune with the Spirit, we’re just going through a test to see if we will respond as Jesus would. We need to let his light in for comfort, rejoice that we’re getting this experience, pray for direction, and wait on the Lord to lead us through the experience. The refiner’s fire is purifying us.
This morning while studying I stumbled on a couple great verses to add to this post. From Job’s tragic story
Job 1:21. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
When bad things happen, never charge God with the problem. We came into this world to be tested to see if we would remain faithful through all trials just as Job showed us.
(Featured image by Photolight2 at 123rf.com)