Life is Unfair, But You Knew That

life-is-unfair1Why is there suffering? And why is life so unfair? Why do some have bigger burdens than others? Why do so many people live in poor war-torn countries?

One possibility is that the abused deserve their abuse—that perhaps they were an abuser in a previous life.  This kind of thinking, even if true, can enable abusers—“You totally deserve my abuse, who am I not to fulfill God’s will?”  This is the dark side of Hindusim–“we have a caste system because God wills it–we brahmins are on top because of our exceeding righteousness in the past life and you losers are living in squalor because you weren’t as righteous in the last life.”  Even modern prophets seers and/or revelators can fall victim to this kind of thinking:

“This privilege of obtaining a mortal body on this earth is seemingly so priceless that those in the spirit world, even though unfaithful or not valient, were undoubtedly permitted to take mortal bodies although under penalty of racial or physical or nationalistic limitations….”  Harold B. Lee

On the other hand, was Jesus abused because He was an abuser?  What about Abinadi, Paul, Peter, and Joseph?

There is another possible explanation why people endure horrible things in life:  Before the earth is created, God says, “I have to respect free will, and some jerk is going to be an abuser.  Who will volunteer to take this douche’s abuse?  Who will volunteer to starve in Africa? Under the volunteerism explanation, it really flips around the question of who the elect really is, and all of us might be found wanting.

[Never mind, we’re totally the elect, not those other guys who are suffering.]

Either explanation is possible, maybe some are abused as punishment and others volunteered for abuse.   We can’t judge.

I suggest a third possibility: some of the abused neither deserved it nor volunteered for it.  Life isn’t fair, and that might be part of the test–can we love and accept a God who set up a rigged game?

Look at the 9th parable in 10 parables. My interpretation of it is, basically, those that followed Lucifer in the premortal life are invited back into the kingdom. Many who were righteous were upset by this and walked out on God. The test is not what we think it is.

From the 9th_Parable:

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

The game is rigged. On purpose. And not because God is incompetent. God wants to see who will not be upset if He rewards people unfairly.

11th-hour-workersMatthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

when-life-isnt-fairBut why? Why is the test about enduring unfairness rather than testing who will obey the commandments the most?

When we perceive that we are treated unfairly, we seek compensation to make up for our unfair treatment. We think it will be just if something is taken from the person who has more and given to the person who has less. Well, maybe we only think it is unjust if we are the person who has less. (When we have more, we pat ourselves on the back and assume that we totally earned it.) This motivation is at the heart of those who seek revenge for mistreatments, either real or perceived.

In the eternities, God offers us everything. He wants to share His glory and power with us. But what if that isn’t fair? Why should someone who didn’t do the same awesome righteous works as I did get the same reward? Why should a laborer who showed up at the 11th hour get the same pay as I did for working all day?

And more importantly, what can I do to stop this slacker from getting a reward he doesn’t deserve? Well, God did give me His power, right? So I can use that to make his eternal reward less than mine. Although it might be hard, since he also has God’s power, so if I break any of his stuff he can fix it. But I could probably find ways to make his eternal reward less rewarding. One way (maybe the only way) I could do him harm would be to tempt his children into doing wickedness.

At this point I have become a devil.

This might be why only the best of feelings (charity) can prevail between people if they will enter into a true order of prayer—prayer doesn’t become a true order just because the person praying repeats signs and tokens while wearing symbolic clothing. A true order of prayer means that a person has received the power to ask any blessing they want from God. People will only get this power if they have the best of feelings toward their neighbor (charity). People without the best of feelings might ask God to curse their neighbor as compensation for unfairness.

So life is unfair because God cannot save people who are upset by unfairness, or those who will not forgive their neighbor.

Here’s the 9th parable in it’s entirety:

OlympicCompetitionThere was a King who loved his people. He also loved the competition of games. He called his advisory council together and asked them how he might improve the health and vigor of his people. They considered the matter and decided upon a great plan.

The King called his city together and told them of a great competition he and his council had devised. “All the city would compete,” he announced. They would proceed in turns to go into the coliseum and compete on the field. All were welcome to watch before or after they participated, but all would have to compete. The competition would test the citizen’s loyalty, while also improving the lives of the citizens.

“I haven’t the strength to compete. I am old and past my day and cannot hope to win in competition with younger men,” said one.

The King responded, “Not all the competition will be of strength, some will be of intellect, some of patience, some of music. It will develop the skill of each individual from my kingdom and will improve every citizen.”

“I refuse,” said the one. He and those who agreed with him departed in anger.

The day arrived and the competition began. Men, women and children all entered in turns into the coliseum. Some sang, some threw spears, some lifted heavy weights, and some recited poetic works of beauty and wisdom. The people not competing at any given time would watch from the seats. They gained as much from watching as they did competing.

Many were reluctant or afraid entering the competition, but found when they competed their fears were unfounded. Some believed it would be fun to compete. However, upon entering the competition failed to do as they hoped, and regretted their poor efforts.

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

“All those who have been loyal have been identified. They will remain in my kingdom. All those who have rejected my plan, or spoken against me in hatred, will be removed from my kingdom. Those who leave are free to follow their own course. However, they cannot be among my people any longer, for they have been tested and failed in their loyalty.”

It required a battle to remove those who were to be exiled. Many argued they had endured all the King had asked and only spoken ill of him when the disaffected exiles returned. They claimed it was unfair to have been put through this final test of loyalty after allowing the return of the exiles. They argued a feast that included those who refused the King’s request was unfair. It rewarded all alike; the loyal and the disloyal. They claimed their final disloyalty came only as a result of their original loyalty later proving to be of no value, since even the exiles came to the final feast.

Others complained that the King was mad. His whole course was destructive of a people who had once lived in harmony and peace. They claimed it was the King who should be thrown in exile; not the citizens who were discomforted by the King disturbing their peace.

Still others complained the King was never honest with them. Had they known this was to be the result, they would have been loyal throughout. They thought it unfair he kept his counsel to himself and thereby lulled them into disfavor.

Yet others complained the King gave them too hard a test. It was unfair. Although they had passed the test, they had family members and friends who failed and if these whom they loved had failed they would refuse for their loved ones’ sake to remain with the King.

Some even said that the original test was supposed to improve the citizen’s “health and vigor” and not their loyalty. It was unfair to claim to test for one virtue when actually testing for another.

And finally, some claimed there could be no future test coming for which this test of the citizens would prepare; that the only thing this great plan tested was the patience of the citizens. If there is some great future test coming, then the King ought, in fairness, to share that information with them rather than to hide it and make claims which cannot be proven.

lingdom-of-peaceAll the arguments were unavailing. The King expelled them all. When the kingdom was set, and none but the loyal remained, the King again called a great assembly of his people. To all those who remained the King announced, “I discovered long ago the power to make my kingdom last forever. I am now prepared to share the secrets of all I know with my people. From this day forward you will no longer be citizens in my kingdom, but you will be kings and queens, sharing with me in life which will never end.

“Before making you all kings and queens with me, I needed to have a people who would live in peace together.

Immortality without peace among us would be a great punishment and not a great prize.

“All of us who remain in this kingdom have lost friends, family members and others whom we love. However, all who remain will be able to live in peace, forever.”

The King did as he planned from the beginning. He and his counselors were able to find those who could live in peace, and for whom life would endure in peace forever.

There is not now, and never has been, a kingdom more stable, more happy, more at peace, and more enduring than this King’s. Though he ceased to reign as a king, he continued to be loved above all others. For he was the one who brought to life the happiest people of all.

Finding the Lord in Your Daily Work

JetCharterPersonal Journal Entry

I sat down about a half hour ago, waiting for the guys to finish putting the carpet down and put the new desks in. I’m at work today, but I have nothing pressing to do. It’s a Saturday. I came in about 1pm to help put the fifteen computers back together in our charter offices. We’re getting new carpet so they had to take everything apart. My associate / assistant / trainee offered to do that so I could stay at the temple for our chapel session last night, which I did. I am extremely grateful.

Being a Good Example to Others

I am greatly blessed. I have a trainee who is anxious, willing, able and excited about learning how to be a computer guy. He is the son of the president and has been working for me for about seven years. He’s still not up to speed on supporting servers but he’s the best help-desk technician you could ask for. He seems to love his work. His happiness is infectious. I reply on him a lot and have never been disappointed. Of course, I praise him every chance I get.

We can Influence Others for Good

He goes out of his way to make sure people are happy and satisfied with his work. I teach him every opportunity I get by delegating tasks and giving him direction. He takes it and goes with it. Great guy – can’t say it enough. I could not do my job without him, especially the part where I get to train on the latest technology – which will never be the latest – things always change. I just wish he would take more initiative in learning how to manage and maintain the servers.

A Few Thoughts From an Old Guy

I’ve spent about thirty, no, make that forty years in the computer industry. I started with punched cards on the IBM System 3 and the IBM System 360. Yep, I’m an old guy. It’s a Saturday afternoon, so nobody is demanding my time. Only the weekend charter crew is here. I’m waiting for the desks to be done so I can put the computers back together for the rest of the charter folks can get right to work on Monday morning. I’ve got a few minutes to think and write.

Count Your many Blessings

I turned off the lights, closed the door, put in my earplugs (I work at the Burbank Airport) and kicked back to relax. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how blessed I am. Don’t get me wrong. I still suffer. The migraines have not gone away. Seven months is a long time to suffer, but I guess the drugs make it easier. What would I do without drugs? What if we couldn’t get the drugs we need to prolong life or make it easier? I shudder to think.

The Blog Goes On

I wanted to write about what’s been happening. Last week I decided I’d had enough. I wrote what I thought was going to be my last post. I said adieu and signed off. I was overwhelmed at the response. I still haven’t had time to read or respond to the comments from people who said they enjoyed my blog and hoped I would reconsider. I had dozens of private emails saying the same and offering private help. I have Facebook notes from people offering individualized help.

Generosity From My Readers

One user sent me a book, free of charge, from Amazon and recommended I read it. I had already read it but just the thought and the idea of taking the trouble not to mention the expense to send it to me overwhelmed me. My uncle passed away last week, the last of six brothers. I cried and cried as I realized the reunion going on in heaven. I am the last and only active male Mormon in my family. I suddenly felt very old. I am old. I’m going to be 57 next February. Is there something I am supposed to accomplish before my days are completed? I’ll be lucky to get another 20 to 25 years. For some reason I feel like Jacob and Moroni – strangers in a strange land, all alone.

Blogs Can Be An Influence for Good

My point is I am overwhelmed at the number of people who said my writing over the last six years has made a difference in their lives. I have expressed my testimony as I have shared my struggles. I have written about finding new books. I have reviewed dozens of books. I have tried to always write about the belief I continue to hold that the Lord has something special in mind he wants me to do. But then, I feel the same way about you too – we live in the last days. Surely the saying is true – he reserved his most valiant servants for the very last days.

I’ve Met a Few Evil Spirits

I’ve shared before but just to review, I met some spirits held captive in spirit prison a few months ago. I went looking for the blog post thinking it was in February of this years but was unable to find it. For those who are seriously interested and want to know how I know I met spirits in spirit prison, I’m happy to send the document. Just send me a private email to tmalonemcse @ I would not have believed it if it had not happened to me. I still find it hard to believe.

Suffering is a Part of This Life

The encounter did not leave me unscathed. The migraines and the anxiety – trust me it is very real and not imagined – have caused me untold sleepless nights and prayers filled with tears and pleadings for relief. But after seven months I am beginning to come to a realization. Suffering, and for me, this is real suffering like I have never suffered before, is simply part of why we came to this earth life. I had one kind individual write to tell me the Lord did not intend for me to suffer, and tried to teach me how to overcome through faith. I didn’t get it or don’t have enough faith. The migraines continue.

Seeing a Professional Mental Health Counselor

My insurance company insists I see a psychiatrist or psychologist as part or the treatment. I am more than willing to do so. In fact, I look forward to the opportunity to talk about my travail if there is any way it can be with a trained priesthood holder. Yet I worry about some of the things I have read that the things I want to talk about are not acceptable in the profession. From what I gather, I could be considered delusional or psychotic. A religious person today who believes in the influence of evil spirits? Why, that’s simply unheard of!

Migraines – Physical Only or Can Be Spiritual

No, I’m sure the pain can be attributed to fungus in whole wheat of some other food allergy. There are a thousand and one things that have been suggested to me as the reason for migraines. But I have yet to find a legitimate explanation for the very real and very powerful experience which I describe in my paper on my encounter with the evil spirits back in February. That’s why I wish I could find someone who believes as I do – that such things exist – and that they do and can have an influence upon us. Read Doug Mendenhall’s or Edith Fiore’s books if you would like to understand a little more about the reality of the spirit world and evil / unclean spirits.

Scrupulosity – Too Much Religious Guilt

This is simply a journal entry as I wait for the time to go put the computers back together. My religion is a big part of my life, perhaps too big, meaning some could accuse me of the very real symptom of scrupulosity- the psychological disorder characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. I’m not saying I suffer from too much guilt. I mean, what have I got to feel guilty about? I suppose that’s one for the psychologist to discover when I meet with them. But will they rely on their professional training ONLY or are there some who are legitimate and effective who also practice alternative medicine techniques?

The Lord Helps Us Through Life

I know the atonement is real. I know repentance is real. I am grateful for the scriptures. Carol and I read them every night just before our family prayer. I enjoy my service in the church. I know the Lord loves me. He helps me all the time, if not personally, then through his angels, perhaps family members he sends who know my situation best. Maybe these migraines are just a part of the normal suffering of life. I know I’m not the only one who has migraines, but a constant migraine for more than seven months now? And why did they start in February? Is there something the Lord is trying to teach me? Is there something deep in my subconscious that is trying to get my attention and wants to be resolved?

Cast Out Evil Spirits

What good is a religion if those who practice it do not believe or do not have real evidence of healing that can and does take place? Why do we hear more about healings in the early days of the church than we do today? Why do we not hear ANYTHING about the idea if casting out the influence of evil spirits in our modern church? Why is it embarrassing for high priests to talk about such things? Why are they not found in our curriculum, taught, practiced and emphasized?

Beliefs in This Church Have Changed

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I’ve asked these questions before. Why are there not men who have real power in the priesthood that the devils recognize and flee at when such men exercise that power? And why are men embarrassed to talk about it, how they learned about it, how they practiced casting them out, and how they taught this technique to others? Is it possibly because we no longer believe in such things? Migraines can’t possibly be caused by evil spirits, can they?

How to Fight Against Witchcraft

Who do so few of the apostles and prophets, if any, teach us these things? Do they not know? Have we lost this knowledge? Was it much more common knowledge years ago, but then became something that we no longer believe? When was the last time you had a priesthood lesson where the instructor went over the proper procedure to remove the influence of an evil spirit from a home that has been infected by the presence of those who practiced witchcraft?

LDS Professionals in Mental Health Field

What psychologist is going to want to talk to me about these things that I take seriously? I can just see their notes now – “this patient is highly delusional and psychotic about the reality of a spirit world around him. He believes in the reality of evil spirits trying to influence him and keep him from doing some sort of work he imagines he has been foreordained to do – whatever that means.” Look, I’m not looking for a miracle here, just a believing Latter-day Saint professional who knows there is more than what he has learned in graduate school about how to help people.

Patriarchal Blessings – So Very Unique to LDS

Why do we get patriarchal blessings if we do not believe they are meant to come to pass? Why are we promised gifts of healing, prophecy, revelation and other sacred endowments from God if they are not meant to be developed? What about the poor saint like me who believes in the promises of the Lord, has believed all his life and simply wants to do whatever the Lord requires to bring these blessings into a condition of reality, where we can and do see into the spirit world?

Gift of Prophecy and Revelation

Perhaps this is too sacred to share – so we are taught – but my patriarchal blessing states that I will have the gift of prophecy and revelation. What does that mean? It also says I will preside in many high and holy callings. I suppose I can consider serving in bishoprics, on the high council and in the stake presidency as a high and holy calling, but it certainly is not presiding. Can we lose our right to preside? Absolutely – besides, I do not want or seek such callings. I am very happy to serve as a stake clerk, although who would have ever seen me as a financial clerk?

A personal Blog Entry about Work

I know this is a very personal post but I have marked it as a journal entry. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just trying to understand a few of the things I am going through. I love this Church and think it should have answers for me. Better yet, the Holy Ghost should have those answers for me. Why do we (I) not talk to my associates here a work about things that are “Churchy?” I hear stories from General Authorities all the time in Conference how it just came up in natural conversation. You try to talk about anything religious here in California and somebody will complain to HR. You can’t put a book of Mormon on your desk or a religious picture in your office. Thank you, California for taking God out of the workplace.

Life Goes On – We Influence Others

Well, hopefully by now it’s getting close to time to go put fifteen computers back together in the Jet Charter offices. Sure hope the carpet layers didn’t mess up any network wiring with their knives. This is not really all that spiritual. I’m just a regular Mormon guy. I try to live my religion. I try to be nice to people. I try to be honest. I try to serve with a good attitude, although my boss told me the other day I could do better. He didn’t bother to ask if there was anything wrong but that’s OK. He pays me well and his wife is a Mormon. I’m trying to be a good influence on him. Thank you good people for wading through my personal thoughts – God bless.

God even loves computer geeks like me

While sitting in the hospital room with my wife on Sunday morning as she was recovering from surgery, I asked her a deep and personal question.  She wanted me to help her with her latest blog entry as she dictated it so I recorded it on my laptop computer.  When she finished it, I asked her how she knew that the Lord loved her.

She didn’t answer me right away but thought about it until this morning after we returned from a follow-up doctor’s visit.  She then shared some things that were unmistakable evidence to her of God’s love for her.  It was a sacred and emotional moment that helped me to know I am not alone in seeing God’s hand in our lives.

Looking beyond the battle

Carol is going through a difficult time right now and it took a lot for her to share those touching personal evidences.  Dealing with her cancer is taking a lot of her energy and sometimes causes her to see only the immediate battle instead of the big picture.  I asked her to take a minute to look beyond the battle and she did.

While we were waiting for the doctors to discharge her yesterday, I shared with her some of the things that are evidence to me that God knows and loves me.  As I held her hand and recounted evidences from my youth of answered prayers, I felt that we don’t pause often enough to realize how the Lord shows each of us his love.

Praying over our flocks

There are so many times in my daily work that I am confronted with situations that tax my technical capabilities.  It can be tough being the only computer dude in a small to medium sized business.  You are expected to be the expert on a myriad number of software and hardware products.  That’s just what an IT Manager does.

Little do my co-workers realize that there is no way that one person can know the answer to every question about all those hundreds of technology products that we use in our business.  I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for help from my Heavenly Father to be able to respond to yet another difficult tech question.

A not-so-typical problem

Let me give you an example from a recent experience that proved to me that the Lord knew what I was going through.  For several weeks a certain employee had been calling and complaining that emails were not getting through to her from a very important client.  We looked at everything trying to figure out the problem.

Finally, this employee laid down the law and said that this problem had to be fixed now!  I re-inspected all the filters through which our email passes and could find nothing wrong.  As I was reporting back via email, I decided to document the steps I had taken by including screen-prints of each filter and the corresponding settings.

A quiet whispered impression

Just before I was about to hit the send button, which in essence was admitting defeat, something impressed me to take one more look at the screen-prints I had included.  As I reviewed each line very closely, I noticed something so simple that I laughed out loud and then started to shout in joyous exultation.  I had found it!

My wife looked over at me and wondered why her normally so serious husband was shouting, “I’ve got you!” and doing a little happy dance.  I reminded her of the problem I had been dealing with for so long and told her that I had finally found the solution.  It was an exciting moment and one in which I felt profound relief.

The Lord stretches us

The problem was that the client had misspelled the employee’s name in her email address.  What compounded it was that she only did it occasionally and usually on the really urgent emails.  It was only when I had a screen-print in front of me with several copies of the incoming emails that I saw the simple yet terminal problem.

After I pointed the problem out to the employee with perhaps too much enjoyment, and everyone was happy again, I reflected back on how simple the problem really was.  Why hadn’t I seen it before?  I believe it was because the Lord wanted me to get to the point where I was about to admit defeat before he stepped in to help me.

Tender mercies of the Lord

I had done everything I knew how to do to resolve the problem.  I was convinced that it was what we call in the industry a false positive, or a piece of email being blocked in the spam filter because it met the criteria of the complex spam rules.  But it wasn’t a filter problem.  It just didn’t know where to deliver the email.

The Lord knows how much I hate to admit defeat.  I am a problem-solver by nature and thrive on resolving deep and complex technical issues.  That’s what makes my job enjoyable.  It is evidence to me that God loves me because he reached out and rescued me from having to admit defeat by prompting me to take that one last look.

The small and simple things

Now you may say that this was all just a big coincidence and that God had nothing to do with helping me to resolve the problem.  You may even say that I must not be very smart to have not seen right away that an email address had been misspelled.  But I can tell you that several of us had already looked at those screens for weeks.

This is not the only time the Lord has helped me in my work.  I could probably fill a dozen essays with example after example of how the Lord inspired me or blessed me to be able to do something that was beyond my natural ability.  I have studied and have worked in tech support my entire career but I have rarely done it alone.

Beyond my natural abilities

Success in my career is important to me.  It helps me to fulfill the commandment of the Lord to provide for my family.  Because the Lord gave me this responsibility and commandment, I feel that I have the right to call upon him to bless me in my work so that I can be successful.  It’s like we are in a sacred partnership together.

I have not always seen the hand of the Lord in my work.  Sometimes I have made rather foolish mistakes and wonder why they happened to me.  I look back and realize that I had been trying to do it on my own or not giving the Lord credit for helping me.  I always perform beyond my natural abilities when I ask God for help.

The Lord chastens us

The same thing applies to my spiritual life.  I have seen the hand of the Lord in my spiritual growth and development numerous times – too many to enumerate.  But I have not always acknowledged his kindness in helping me.  That’s when I struggle and wonder why I feel like I’m going through my life’s experiences all by myself.

It is only when I stop and think that I realize how truly blessed I am and how much the Lord must really love me.  The scripture says that the Lord chastens those who he loves.  If our chastening experiences are any indication then we must be some of the Lord’s chosen.  Now if I only knew for what purpose we are being chosen.

Preparing for eternity

I suppose I already know the answer.  Just as it is easy to overlook the hand of the lord in my work, thinking that something so mundane as computer tech support can’t be of any interest to the Lord, it is just as easy to overlook the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives as we pass through this episode of cancer in Carol’s body.

I love Carol and I will love her forever.  I chose her to be my companion not only for this life but forever.  I am convinced that we will pass through this cancer scare successfully.  I believe that the doctors caught it early enough that it will not be a problem once it is removed in the surgery next week.  That in itself is a miracle.

Summary and conclusion

It is easy to think that God doesn’t love us or isn’t interested in our mundane lives.  But if we stop and take the time to think about it, God is very involved in what we do each day.  We just have to look for ways that mean something special to us.  In my example, it was a subtle impression to inspect a screen-print just a little closer.

In Carol’s case, it is being able to fall asleep after a prayer in spite of tremendous pain, or wondering why you’re not stepping on the gas when the light turns green and then watching someone run a red light in front of you.  What about you?  How does the Lord demonstrate to you that he loves you and is involved in your life?

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

A long time ago, in a place that now seems so far away, I sat and suffered alone in silence. My family was out of town on vacation. I had stayed behind due to work commitments. I was worn out from helping others with their problems all week. For some reason, I was struggling to fight off discouragement, and surprised that I should be feeling such sorrow.

As I sat pondering and wondering why I was feeling so sad, I began to think about the Savior and a time of sorrow in his life. Somehow, in some inexplicable way, I began to feel connected to something that happened to him on a similar night so long ago when he too was so alone. I began to imagine the scene in my mind’s eye and to rehearse the events that I remembered.

The Garden of Gethsemane

I turned to the scriptures to read and reread the descriptions of that awful night. In Matthew, I read, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.”

In an unusual manner, the phrases referring to the sorrow experienced by the Savior caused me to wonder and ponder all the more. I thought, “Why should he feel so sorrowful? What caused him to feel this way? He had done nothing deserving of such unhappiness and sorrow. There had to be some logical explanation, a cause for this effect. What was it? He was a righteous man, a perfect man. When I feel sorrowful, I can usually discover a reason.”

Another scripture came to mind, this time from Isaiah, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” There it was again, the reference to sorrow, only this time it was associated with grief. What could be the cause?

The cause of sorrow and grief

We are taught that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior suffered for our sins. He paid the price of our mistakes. Continuing in Isaiah, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” We know that we suffer pain, sorrow, guilt, remorse and all kinds of afflictions as the result of doing things that are not in accordance with our value standards.

I believe that when I do something that I know to be wrong, I open a chink in my armor, a crack in my spirit, through which virtue and strength escape. Not only that, but that hole in my spiritual protection allows the adversary a chance to attack me, to get at me and to annoy me. Well, maybe not the devil himself, but certainly one or more of his followers have an advantage over me because of my weakness. My light has diminished and some darkness has entered.

I know from personal experience that when these little minions of the devil get at me I feel annoyed, discouraged, distraught, sorrowful and sometimes even grief-stricken. All this from doing something that is beneath me? Yes. I think if you ponder it, you will recognize that this has happened to you too. Suddenly it struck me. That was the cause of the sorrow and grief described in the scriptures. Somehow the Savior’s shield of light had been diminished that night.

What really happened that night

On that night in the Garden, Satan threw everything and everyone at his command that he could at the Lord. All the hosts of hell conspired against the Savior and tried to destroy him. His shield of protection, his virtue, was weakened to almost nothing or perhaps even removed, so that he was totally exposed to the full power of the adversary and all those who swore allegiance to him. “…yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” God caused it to happen.

That’s the part I had not considered before, “smitten of God.” Without God removing his shield of protection for a few hours, that covering of light and virtue that he deserved because of his perfection, he could not have felt the full effect of the spirits of darkness. They are full of doubt and fear and pain and sorrow and suffering and anguish and grief because they have no faith. They have no light or virtue, only darkness. It must have been horrible to feel such awfulness.

Jesus Christ was exposed that night, and again on the cross the next day, to the full influence of the devil and all the evil spirits that follow him. No wonder he sweat as it were great drops of blood from every pore of his body. The anguish and pressure must have been unfathomable. He did not deserve to feel their influence, but in order to be able to understand how we feel when we are exposed to their power when we sin, he had to be fully exposed. What a terrible thing!

He did not succumb

Although they attacked him with everything they had, every doubt, every fear, every wicked thought and evil temptation, they could not and they did not get through to his clean, pure and virtuous spirit. He won the battle and gained the victory. He did not give in to their thoughts, their suggestions or their whisperings. Because he won, he has all power. He holds the keys of death and hell. The evil spirits must obey him because he is God, even the son of God.

Our Heavenly Father commands us to believe in Jesus Christ, to believe that He is the Son of God and that He has indeed overcome the world and that he did in fact vanquish Satan. We have nothing to fear. This is the good news of the gospel. He won! And because he won his victory over Satan, we can too. He understands perfectly every sorrow, fear, doubt and grief that we experience, because he experienced it too, from the very same source.

He won the right to have all power over the evil spirits. He fought and won the victory in the flesh. Michael and his angels fought and won the battle in heaven in the spirit world. Jesus Christ fought that same battle in the flesh and also won. He was not forced and he was not controlled. He did it on his own. God trusted him. We trusted him. He did it. We can turn to him when we feel overwhelmed or overpowered by the temptations and impressions from the evil spirits.

The atonement gives us power

How does this apply to you and me? This means that we won, too. He overcame all opposition and yet he gave the blessings of that to us. Because of his great love for us and for our Father, he gave the victory to us. He won against all fear and all doubt. He vanquished all those evil spirits that torment you and me. He has already won the victory over them. The spirits are not limited to a specific time like you or me. They tried to destroy him then and come at us in our time now.

That means that whenever those same evil spirits come against you and try to lie and whisper in your ear, saying, “You’re no good,” or “You can’t make it,” you can answer and say, “You lie. I can make it. I can do all things through Jesus Christ which strengthen me. He has already vanquished you. Be gone.” All doubts and fears have been destroyed. They are on borrowed time and they know it. They are brazen and arrogant but they have no faith or power.

There is nothing to fear. Fear has been destroyed. Doubt has been destroyed. These are no longer effective tools of the adversary. Said the Lord, “Doubt not. Fear not. Look unto me in every thought.” The Lord has also said that the reason why prayers are not answered is because there are doubts and fears in our hearts. This means that we have allowed Satan’s lies to have place in us. We have listened to the wrong voice. Cast him out. He lies.

Summary and conclusion

Do not doubt what the Lord has said and do not fear what the adversary can do. If we obey the Lord’s commandments, we have his promise that we have access to his power. He holds out his arms to comfort us and to protect us. We have to but come unto him. We do that through faith in him and obedience to his commandments: to be baptized and to receive the Holy Ghost. Once we do our part, we have a right to receive from him the promises of safety and power over the devil.

We can trust the Lord. He fulfills his promises. He said he would do it in the great council in heaven and he did it. There was no control, force or compulsion involved. He did it of his own free will and choice. He did it because he loved his Heavenly Father and because he loves us. He trusted that our Heavenly Father would bear him up through the terrible ordeal. He gives us power to fulfill our purpose in life because he fulfilled his. We can rejoice and trust him.

He relied on our Father to see him through the pain and suffering of his life and our Father commands us to rely on Him. He will help us through the pain and suffering of our lives. He knows what we are going through. He has been through it for every one of us. He can say that he understands every pain and every suffering, every anguish, every disappointment, every bad thing that has ever happened to us or ever will. He understands, he already met them and won.

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