But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Cor 2:9)
Linda S. Reeves gives an insightful explanation that sums up the meaning of this verse beautifully:
Understandably, many have expressed that our Father’s promised blessings are just “way too far away,” particularly when our lives are overflowing with challenges. But Amulek taught that “this life is the time … to prepare to meet God.” It is not the time to receive all of our blessings. President Packer explained, “‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.” However, a vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day—as well as an awareness “of the multitude of his tender mercies” that we experience on a daily basis.
Sisters, I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, “Was that all that was required?” I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior? (Linda S. Reeves, “Worthy of Our Promised Blessings,” Ensign, November 2015).
I often think Heavenly Father didn’t reveal how absolutely wonderful life would be after we die because then we would be way too excited to die! We’d walk out into the street hoping a car would hit us =). He knew we needed to stay on Earth (and not leave prematurely!) so we could gain the experiences we needed that will make us more like Him. He sent us here to BECOME something. And that requires effort, time, dedication, grit, and faith (to name a few!).
So often we want to be a marathon runner without wanting to put in the necessary training to become one! We want the blessings of being able to run 26 miles without running the 3, 6, 10, and 15+ mile runs that led up to that victory!
It’s a natural, human tendency to just want our lives to be easier. We pray for a removal of our trials, instead of the power and strength to handle them. But is living on easy-street the purpose of this life – is it even a desirable state? What marathon runner would feel any sense of accomplishment if, as she crossed the finish line, thought, “Well, that was easy.”
But how do we learn to run for 26 miles when everything around us seems to be falling apart? What do we do when our challenges are too much and too many? Five letters will answer all those questions: G.R.A.C.E. The power of grace is far reaching:
It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means (Bible Dictionary, “Grace”).
David A. Bednar gave a beautiful example of what it truly means to use grace in your life.
Nephi is an example of one who knew, understood, and relied upon the enabling power of the Savior. Recall that the sons of Lehi had returned to Jerusalem to enlist Ishmael and his household in their cause. Laman and others in the party traveling with Nephi from Jerusalem back to the wilderness rebelled, and Nephi exhorted his brethren to have faith in the Lord. It was at this point in their journey that Nephi’s brothers bound him with cords and planned his destruction. Please note Nephi’s prayer: “O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound” (1 Nephi 7:17; emphasis added).
Do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? “Please get me out of this mess NOW!” It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And I believe he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew, understood, and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement.
I do not think the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then “in the strength of the Lord” (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords, and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands.
The implication of this episode for each of us is straightforward. As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon. (David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, April 2012).