A Lesson for Young Women and Everyone
I prepared this lesson once to teach Relief Society (the Women’s group at my church and today I’ve adapted and prepared it today to teach to the Young Women in my church (ages 12-18). I teach a lesson usually one Sunday a month to the Laurels and today the topic is “Why do we have Adversity?”
This was the perfect week for me to prepare a lesson about why we have adversity in our lives. It was a touch week with some trials and career decisions to make that of course stressed me out and made me think the world was ending! But of course, because I know The Plan of Salvation that my Father in Heaven prepared for us from the foundation of the world, I know there is always a bigger plan in place. We are here on this earth right now as a test period to prove to our Heavenly Father that we can faithfully seek out and do our best to follow his commandments so that we can return to live with him.
Heavenly Father allows bad and good to exist here so that we can have choices to make. With no opposition, there would be no choices, and with no choices we would not be allowed to exercise our agengy. Trusting in our Heavenly Father and using our agency how He asks us to is how we show that we are trying our best. Because we know that he loves us and wants what is best for us, is how we can develop the faith to trust in what he asks us to do are in our best interest too, even if we cannot see it now.
The following scripture references contain stories of women in the scriptures (The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon) who went through trials and adversity. Consider their stories. Why do you think that God wanted their story preserved for all of these years for us? What can we learn from how they handled their trials?
1 Samuel 1 (The Bible) – Story of Hannah
1 Kings 17 (The Bible) – Story of Zarephath
Ruth 1 (The Bible) – Story of Ruth
Esther 4 (The Bible) – Story of Esther
1 Nephi 5:1-9 (The Book of Mormon) – Story of
I want to talk about ways that adversity occurs in our lives and why.
1) Sometimes our own choices create situations that create adversity in our life.
2) Sometimes the choices or others create trials for us, sometimes very painful and serious ones.
3) Sometimes uncontrollable circumstances cause pain and trials in our lives.
1. Adversity caused by our own choices.
Sometimes choices we make ourselves cause us pain and suffering when the consequences of those choices come back to us. We can then seek repentance through sincere prayer with our loving Heavenly Father. The pain that we feel spiritually after something like this, the guilt that we feel is the Spirit telling us something is off, and is calling us to repent. Once we undergo a sincere repentance process that pain will ease. Though the pain will be gone, we will remember the sin to help us prevent making similar choices in the future. True repentance is meant to be rigorous, since it must come from the heart and start with a true desire to change ourselves with His help. It will cost us time, tears, and changes to our habits and lifestyles but it will be worth it for the peace at the end.
2. Adversity caused by the choices of others.
Many times trials in our lives are caused by the choices of others. These can be extremely hard to bear since we personally are not in control of the cause. There is pain caused by watching others in our lives make poor choices, and then the pain that those choices can actually cause for us in our lives. Both can be extremely heavy. So what should you do?
Even though others may not be making good choices we should still love them. We will feel frustrated when we see them making choices that are hurting our hearts to see them in pain, or causing frustration and pain on our part. It can be extremely difficult to have a close family member or friend stray from a successful path, or lead others with them to do spiritually destructive things. (If the other person’s choices are causing physical or emotional danger to you or others, then please see the next paragraph.) Since we cannot change the choices that others are making, we should pray to ask the Lord to know what we CAN do to affect a positive change in the person that we love or to help ourselves when the other person’s choices are hurting us so much. The Lord knows each of his children perfectly, including yourself and your friend, and he will know what to do. Take some quiet time to sit without distraction, pray, and then LISTEN to what you feel you should do. The Lord will strengthen you or he will help you lift your burdens. After all you can do, remember to be loving, forgiving, non judgmental, and a good example to all around you.
I do need to mention that if the person’s bad choices are causing physical or emotional harm, as in cases of abuse, then you should of course remove yourself from the situation to the best of your ability, or seek help from others who can help you. If the person is a close family member, there is such a thing as loving someone from over here, from father away, from a safe distance. You can remove yourself from the closeness of a relationship if it’s damaging, while of course continuing to love them (just from farther away.)
3. Adversity caused by uncontrollable circumstances.
Someone asked me once, why does God let bad things happen? He could stop it if he wanted to! It’s true, God is infinitely more powerful than all of of the forces that he created! So then why does he allow things like tornados, tsunamis, world hunger, and earthquakes to happen? God abides by the laws that he created. He created the laws of physics and the laws that the earth abides by, all action and reaction based. He then allows the Earth to follow these laws with little interference. And though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, that order and resultant difficulty is for our own good.Consider this parable of a tree:
Quoting Elder Neil L. Anderson “In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return.4 You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.
“How do you prepare for your whirlwinds? “Remember … it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, … his shafts in the whirlwind, … when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power … to drag you down … because of the rock upon which ye are built.”5 This is your safety in the whirlwind.”- from Elder Neil L. Anderson, quorum of the Twelve Apostles, talk called “Spiritual Whirlwinds”
I also love this quote from living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, “Brothers and sisters, it may be safely assumed that no person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and sorrow, nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil and misery.
“When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”1 We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.
“From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”7 Such comfort is priceless.
“Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.” – from President Thomas S. Monson, prophet of the Church, talk called “I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee”
I know that our dear kind and loving Heavenly Father does not leave us alone in our trials. He loves us and is waiting for us to come unto him so that he can either 1) ease and lift our burdens with us, or 2) strengthen us beneath them.
Below is the printable I created to print and give out to the girls I am teaching. Print this out on regular US letter-sized paper. Think of a trial you are going through right now in your life and then fill out this worksheet to discover 15 ways that Heavenly Father has equipped you to handle this trial with his help. Then answer the question, “Why is this happening FOR me?” (instead of TO me)
You can download it HERE.
To prepare for this lesson I used the lesson plan prepared by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their youth curriculum called “Come Follow Me”. These lesson plans prepared by and for Mormons are wonderful for church lessons for all Christians or anyone wanting ideas to teach valuable life lessons and eternal principles.
The title I gave this lesson and what inspired the graphics and printables I created and included here were inspired by an Instagram post by The Alison Show in 2014.
I’ve been praying for the past week for inspiration to know what the girls I will be teaching need to hear to strengthen them in the trials in their lives. If you are going to be teaching this lesson I encourage you to pray to be touched by the Spirit to have things brought to your mind that you will know what to say. Heavenly Father knows his children perfectly, even if we feel inadequate to teach or guide them, he knows what they need and he will use you as his instrument and mouthpiece if you prepare and teach prayerfully.