Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Sense of Suffering

I'm sorry the picture is blurry
A friend in high school gave me a copy of Making Sense of Suffering by Wayne E. Brickey. If I recall correctly, the author was her uncle. He wrote a personalized message to me inside the book, wishing me success on my "hero's journey." I know I have read bits and pieces of the book before, but this was my first time reading it cover to cover.

Although a lot of the book seemed repetetive and wordy, I thought its core message was very good. The author used certain symbolism throughout the book that really made me think. For example, he talks about how every person on this earth is royalty, and we ought to always remember that. He pointed out that when someone is sick--usually a point when that person is very low--we annoint them with oil, something reserved for only kings of old. Thus, when a person feeling very low is being annointed, we are reminded that this person is royalty. I really liked that thought.

This last Sunday, a member of my ward commented that he didn't believe trials were for our good. He said that he believes we can gain good things during trials, but trials themselves are not good. After reading this book, I have to disagree. Honestly, trials terrify me. I don't want any more trials, especially severe ones. But I do want to become to man God wants me to be. The best thing about trials is that they don't last forever, but their effects on our character can. Christ's pain and suffering is over, but the effects of His sacrifice continue to bless the world. Likewise, if I endure my trials well, they will be but for a small moment, but through them I can be exalted on high.

Nothing More Heroic

The second book I read this year is called Nothing More Heroic by R. Lanier Britsch. This book told the entire story of the first LDS missionaries to India. The stories were interesting because they were simultaneously depressing and inspiring. These missionaries suffered a lot of hardship and prejudice and achieved very little success.

What I enjoyed most about this book was reading how the missionaries truly gave their all, even though they were so often discouraged. Instead of giving up and going home, they tried new things. In fact, one of the missionaries was told he could go home early because he was not well, but he insisted on not being the first and continued doing his best. Even though they met with little success, these missionaries all felt at the end of their mission that the Lord was pleased with their work and they had completely fulfilled their duty.

I also particularly enjoyed reading the account of Levi Savage Jr. I know his story with the Willie Handcart Company from 17 Miracles. That incident occured immediately following his mission, which story is told in this book. After reading all that he endured on this mission, it made me appreciate his sacrifice with the handcart company even more.

The Road to Somewhere

The first book I read this year is called The Road to Somewhere by Carlos E. Asay. This book is written to young men and young women about the importance of setting a destination. He warns against blindness of mind and hardness of heart, and also cautions the reader to pay attention to the highway signs of life. Following this formula leads to both success and happiness in this life.

Although this book was largely dedicated to spiritual matters, he also applied the principles to any goal that we set. He emphasized that it is pleasing to God to set righteous goals, even if they don't seem connected to the Gospel in any way. For example, the author told of an experience of when he set a goal to play basketball in Madison Square Garden, and actually got to achieve this goal many years later. I believe that he is right. God is pleased with goal setting. He is pleased with us whenever we try to improve ourselves in every way possible. I really enjoyed this book. The only reason it's the first book I read this year is because it is also the first book on my shelf, but I thought it was very appropriate to read at the beginning of a new year.