There's no doubt that the world is being plunged into dark, troubling, and chaotic times. With shootings, terrorist attacks, death, crime, negativity, and political uncertainty the focus of the media, it can feel at times as though there is no place to turn to find hope, that there is no place to find peace.
But, in his book For Times of Trouble, Elder Holland describes such times in our lives and offers encouragement as to how we can find light within and above, even when everything around us is plunged into darkness. Here are some excerpts from For Times of Trouble.
Why do we experience pain?
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. . . . The Lord . . . will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." (Psalms 46:1–3; 9:9)
One of the unfailing facts of mortal life is the recurring presence of trouble, the recurring challenge of difficulty and pain. . . . Someone once reasoned that confronting problems is apparently the common denominator of the living—the great bond between the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, the believer and the skeptic. . . . One popular writer said that expecting a trouble-free life because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.
When these difficult days (and nights!) come—and they will—it will help us to remember that “it must needs be,” that in the grand councils of heaven before the world was, we agreed to such a time of challenge and refinement. We were taught then that facing, resolving, and enduring troublesome times was the price we would pay for progress. And we were committed to progress eternally. . . .
Thus, even though on some days we might wish it otherwise, it is essential that our temporal journey be laced with all kinds of choices and alternatives, opportunities and obstacles, exhilarating highs and sometimes devastating lows. . . .
Of course, the greatest reassurance in this plan is that there was from the beginning a fail-safe protection built into the arrangement, an unassailable guarantee (if we want it) against every mistake we might make, every sin we would commit, every trial we would confront, every discouragement, disease, and the death we will all ultimately face. This salvation would come in the form of a Messiah, the Messiah—the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He would come “with healing in his wings,” both temporally and spiritually. His message would be one of hope and peace. His atoning sacrifice would overcome death and hell for every man, woman, and child from Adam to the end of the world.
He would break the bands of our bondage and our troubles, and He would set us free. . . .
Yes, there will be stress and sorrow in life, and we will not always get the answers from heaven we prefer, but God will always give the answer we need—and with it He will give both strength and spiritual solace in all our times of trouble.
Remember, God is for you.
When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. (Psalm 56:9)
. . . I believe all confidence, all comfort, all strength, all safety starts here—“This I know; . . . God is for me.”
That truth has to be seared into our hearts, written in bold letters across the tissue of our brains, and never forgotten. Like the blood of the Passover with which ancient Israelites were to mark the lintel and side posts of their doors, we ought to have some such figurative reminder constantly before our eyes and always in our hearts that God is for us. . . .
He loves us. He is our Heavenly Father. He never sleeps nor slumbers in His watch care over us. His work and His glory are to save us, to exalt us, to see us safely home with Him.
Everything He does is in support of that ultimate purpose, no matter what refinements or trials are required in the achievement of that objective. Acknowledging the dimensions of His majesty and all quantum physics of the universe, from the budding of a flower in spring to expanding realms of galaxies without number, God’s singular, solitary quest is to bless and exalt His children, to save (if they will let Him) every human soul. . . .
And as the Apostle Paul would later ask, “If God be for us, who [or we might add, what] can be against us? . . . We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
4 things God asks us to remember in troubling times.
Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. . . .
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. . . . (Psalms 6:2–4, 6)
Every one of us has occasion—often frequent occasion—to cry out that not only our bones but also our souls are “vexed.” And sometimes that vexing goes on and on. At such times, we have occasion also to cry out, “O Lord, how long?” as did the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. . . . So, too, did the Prophet Joseph cry out in his feelings of abandonment, “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?”
Sometimes these woes come just because life has its troubles, but other times they come from actual “workers of iniquity.” . . . Nevertheless, we need to remember that even in such extremities, even when we have suffered “wrongs and unlawful oppressions,” God is still with us and still whispers, “peace be unto thy soul.”
In encouraging us to be peaceful in such difficult times, He asks us to remember these things:
First, our adversity and affliction shall be but a small moment. Our trials seem to be long-lasting—or everlasting—when we are in the midst of them, but they do come to an end. . . . Often enough in our mortal struggle, the only response we can make is to hang on and hide in “the shadow of [God’s] wings . . . until these calamities be overpast.” Difficulties do pass, hard times end, the trouble we thought would never go away goes away. So there is hope, not simple stoicism, in enduring.
Second, if we endure our challenges well, God will exalt us on high and we will triumph over our foes, whether those foes be actual people seeking to do us harm or simply the vicissitudes of life that bring grief and trouble with them. . . .
Third, we need to remember that we do have friends. Thank heaven for friends! The Prophet Joseph was reminded that his friends were still standing by him and that they would yet hail him again with “warm hearts and friendly hands.”
Fourth, in our despair, there can always be a tendency to self-pity. We need to resist that at all costs, for it damages everything it touches. . . . We have many, many blessings, and there are many, many people in the world who face far more difficult circumstances than do we.
All of this can help dry our tears, but that is not to say tears don’t come. . . . One day God will, in great victory, “wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” One day our calamities will be overpast.
For more incredible insights and words of hope from Elder Holland, check out For Times of Trouble.