Overcoming adversity is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal salvation. Though adversities are a difficult and inevitable piece of our mortal existence, they are given to us to help us grow in faith, love, patience, and hope.
Difficulties in life come from a variety of sources for almost innumerable reasons. No one is immune to experiencing adversity, whether it be suffering from the loss of a loved one, mental or physical illness, uncertainty about the future, feelings of rejection, or any number of unseen sorrows. Some adversity is brought about by our own doing and can be prevented by living in harmony with gospel principles. However, much of the adversity in the world is not a by-product of our actions but simply an unavoidable part of living on earth.
While we can’t choose our trials, we can choose how we react to them. The way we respond to our trials will determine the person we become on our journey of overcoming adversity. When our adversities pass, our character will remain. It is easy to lament life’s hardships and blame God for our trials while asking, Why me? This is not what God would have us do. Instead we can view adversity, however difficult it is, as an opportunity for personal growth. As President Dallin H. Oaks stated over the BYU pulpit in 1995, “Like the mortal life of which they are a part, adversities are temporary. What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them” (“Adversity,” 17 January 1995).
Thankfully, we are not tasked with overcoming adversity on our own. In Alma 7:11–12 we read that, because of the Atonement, Christ will take upon Himself our pains, sicknesses, temptations, and afflictions. When Jesus Christ performed His Atonement on our behalf, He experienced every adversity we will ever encounter. Christ is our perfect example of overcoming adversity. He is divinely prepared to succor us and guide us if we will but humbly ask for help. Because of His Atonement, we can change and grow. It is up to us to choose to grow closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ or become bitter in our trials.
This rich collection of devotionals, videos, and blog posts is overflowing with advice from respected scholars and Church leaders about overcoming adversity. Many personal, raw stories juxtapose the difficulties of adversity and the sweetness of learning to more fully trust Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Perhaps you will recognize some of your own experiences in their emotional accounts. Though each person’s experience is unique, they all echo the same theme: overcoming adversity is always possible through Christ.
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What Is Adversity?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines adversity as “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune.” Adversity is a necessary part of the plan of salvation, God’s plan for us to be able to return to live with Him again. God sent us to earth to learn and grow through our experiences, especially through our adversity. When we experience adversity, we get the chance to utilize our agency—our ability to choose—to rely on God. Suffering can come from events that are the natural result of having a mortal body, but they can also come as a result of others’ poor decisions. While adversity looks different to everyone who experiences it, some things about it remain the same: adversity is universal and everyone experiences suffering at one point or another in their mortal life. As you learn more about adversity, don’t forget to seek the Lord’s assistance.
How Can I Build Resilience and Perseverance?
God wants you to overcome your trials and improve as a result of experiencing them. What can you do to help in this process? It’s always best to start by strengthening your relationship with Heavenly Father. You can do this through prayer, scripture study, temple worship, church attendance, and other spiritual activities. As your relationship with God grows, you’ll have more faith that He has your best interests in mind and wants you to be happy despite your uncertainty of the future. Many speakers at BYU have provided specific guidance on how to draw closer to God while enduring trials. As you use these resources, listen to the Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Ghost can help you know what experiences and advice will help you the most.
How Can Jesus Christ Help Me Through My Challenges?
When Christ atoned for us in the Garden of Gethsemane, He experienced “temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death” (Mosiah 3:7). Jesus Christ experienced every pain, sadness, trial, and challenge that each of us will ever face during our time on earth. Because of His incredible suffering, there is nobody who could better help us through challenges. He knows exactly what it feels like to be worried about making ends meet, to be afraid about making a big decision, and to battle cancer. He knows us perfectly, and His love for us is so great that He is prepared to help us if we are humble enough to ask. Through prayer, we can seek strength to overcome adversity. Our prayers may be answered through a prompting, a feeling of peace, a verse of scripture, or the words of another. Inspired advice from BYU speakers about overcoming challenges with Christ’s help can be found in the talks below.
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Is Adversity a Blessing or a Punishment?
With so many hardships in the world, it can be tempting to imagine God as a Being who watches us closely and withholds blessings when we make even the tiniest mistakes. It is important to remember that God is not a vindictive ruler who waits for opportunities to rain down punishment on those who do wrong. Rather, He is our loving Father in Heaven, who looks for opportunities to bless us. God is also just, so some trials are a necessary consequence of actions we make. Much of the adversity we face, however, is simply an unavoidable part of living on earth. Because He loves us, God created the earth to allow adversity into our lives so we could have opportunities to grow, make choices, and become more like Him.