Anna wrote a comment to Alive through the Love of God, and asked some really good questions. I was trying to keep my reply short, but was only half successful, so I’m copying these words into a new post instead. (I think I will do that also in the future with my longer replies, in case someone else wants to read them.)
Here are Anna’s two question: “a) If trials and sufferings leads to something good for other people, does that mean that we shall not try to take away these sufferings (like poverty in the world, or the neighbor abusing his family)? b) If trials and suffering might lead to something good for us, does that mean that we shouldn´t try to have better lives, that we should just try to endure no matter what?”
Here is her own answer: “To both these 2 questions, I would definitively say: No! One good thing with the evil in the world is that it gives us something to fight, opportunities to do good, to show mercy and love towards ourselves and others, that need a helping hand to get out of their suffering.”
I put the last part in italics, because those are important words. I totally agree that the answer is no to both questions. But I’m glad it was brought up so I can expand just a little, to avoid any misunderstandings about my view of (my) LDS faith.
a) Just because we can grow from trails doesn’t mean that we should seek them out (like the time when I felt so blessed in my life that I prayed to God, asking for a trail to teach me humility, and I came home that evening only to find that burglars had broken in). It doesn’t mean that we should want anyone else to suffer either. The thing is: trails and suffering find their own way into people’s lives; it doesn’t have to be through a bad choice they make; it can be through a bad choice of someone else; or living in Burma (where millions are victims of the latest cyclone)… or whatever. So of course we have to easy the burdens of others. It’s the Christian way. To all of us, it should be the only way!
b) No to this question also. In fact, the LDS view is that we should strive every day to become better than the day before. Our last prophet, Gordon B Hinckley always talked about becoming a little bit better, being more kind to each other, and standing a little taller. We believe there is a God-given potential within all human beings, and its our responsibility to try our best to live up to who we really are, or can become. Although the scripture often talk about “enduring to the end”, we don’t interpret that to mean “suffer to the end”, but rather, keep the faith always and find joy – even when it’s hard – to keep the commandments of God.
Note: Please read Linda’s last (and first) comment to Alive through the Love of God. (I didn’t see that until I had posted this one.) I like the perspective Jeanette gives also, about Christ’s role.