Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obedience in Spite of Our Trials

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “We will [not] always be rescued from proximate problems, but we will be rescued from everlasting death! Meanwhile, ultimate hope makes it possible to say the same three words used centuries ago by three valiant men. They knew God could rescue them from the fiery furnace if He chose. ‘But if not,’ they said, nevertheless, they would still serve Him!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 45; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 35).

What can the response of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego teach us about obeying the Lord’s commandments? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to obey the Lord whether he protected them or not. Our obedience should not be conditioned on whether or not the Lord gives us an expected blessing at an expected time in return. This aspect of the gospel is not one many will relate often. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be true if you're alert during any testimony meeting. Almost everyone has a story, an experience from their life that supports their testimony of one or another principle.

My oldest daughter refused to bare her testimony because she "does not have a story to tell." Some how she felt that a testimony was made up of a story. Yes, our testimony is built on experiences but these are not always those that can easily be put into a story of blessings through obedience to certain gospel principles.

We can learn something else from the ovenproof trio. It was in the depths of their trials that they met their Savior. When the guards seized them, intervention did not come. As they approached the fiery furnace, the flames were not inexplicably put out. It was not until they were cast into the furnace that the Lord interceded on their behalf. We should not expect anything more in our lives.

As we're living our lives, trying our best to obey, how can we keep strong even when evidence of any benefit is vague? Obedience in spite of our trials. How can we maintain strength in the gospel when all seems to be combining against us?
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