Today’s society frequently touts strength, power, dominance, power, etc. as acceptable forms of emotional channeling. One who hurts, is powerless, humble, meek, submissive may be seen as a weak. I was once told that the attribute of meekness or being meek is one who has great power under control. Recently David A. Bednar described it as follows:
"The Christlike quality of meekness often is misunderstood in our contemporary world. Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash. A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others. . . .
Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation.” i-
Meekness, to me, is the humble strength that realizes personal weakness and a desire to learn from them while gratefully acknowledging the strengths and characteristics already held. In the last several years I have learned (more from my failings than my triumphs) that real meekness is the strength to say “it hurts” without being angry, selfish, vengeful, or prideful. Let me explain with a couple examples from scripture.
An episode in the Book of Mormon illustrates this point. A family is lead by the youngest son named Nephi. Under his leadership they build a ship and set sail. During the journey Nephi’s older brothers tie him up for three days. While Nephi is bound a terrible storm comes and threatens the lives of the family. Finally, the older brothers release him and Nephi reports:
"they came and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of my afflictions (1 Nephi 18:15-16).
Interestingly, Nephi says how much it hurt to be tied up and swelling that took place because of it, but he did not attribute his suffering to God. He didn’t hate, distrust, or blame God for things that were taking place in his life, but he still had the humility to say, “this hurts.”
In Mark 9 a devoted father comes to Jesus, son in tow, pleading for help. He explains his son had a “dumb spirit” and would throw himself into the fire and the water, his son would gnash his teeth and foam at the mouth. At the end of his explanation of what his son does the father simply cries, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion . . .” Notice this devoted father doesn’t say, “from birth I’ve taken care of him, I’m at my witts end, why would God do this to me? To him? To my family?” He can say “it hurts” without saying it’s God’s unmerciful doing. Here the father didn’t even ask for healing but simply compassion, and not just compassion for his son but pleads, “have compassion on us, and help us” (Mark 9:19-22).
This could be a time where I suggest greater compassion toward those with disabilities and their care givers, that is a crucial lesson; however, today, I appreciate the father’s open, honest acknowledgement that his particular predicament hurts, and it hurts personally.
So with those two examples in mind, may I say that sometimes it still hurts. It hurts on so many fronts so frequently, “Nevertheless, I . . . look unto my God and I . . . praise him . . . and not murmur against the Lord because of [our] afflictions” (1 Nephi 18:16). Balancing out the hurt comes the sweet assurance of peace and those moments of pure, unadulterated, joy that eminates from Elise’s sweet smile, electric eyes, enthusiastic clap, and squeals of sheer delight.
Living on earth, for everyone, brings moments where we can legitimately say, “this hurts.” I understand the reality of that real pain. Whether it be death, disability, depression or whatever malady comes, I believe it’s okay to say, “it hurts” in fact it may indicate your immense strength but those feelings of pain should not be attributed to the Lord as Nephi teaches. Don’t be angry with God in whatever troubling circumstances inevitably come.
Again, I’m so thankful for Elise, my profound teacher, to help me become a man I never would have without her influence in my life.
"When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father. . . To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it.
Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you.
I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.
To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength and understanding.
It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on."ii
i David A. Bednar, “Meek and Lowly of Heart.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Conference, April 2018. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/meek-and-lowly-of-heart?lang=eng
iiRichard G. Scott, “Trust in the Lord.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Conference April 1995. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/trust-in-the-lord?lang=eng