One morning last week I was listening to the K-Love radio station (my favorite) and a member of the group Unspoken was explaining the meaning behind one of their songs. I can't remember for the life of me who said it or what song it was about, but let the record show that I am giving the credit to the group.

In essence he said that we shouldn't let our situation dictate our praise of God. This made me immediately think about how we turn away from God when times are tough. Sometimes we curse Him because our situation is not ideal or we blame Him for our own mistakes or we blame Him because we simply live in a fallen world. However, those afflictions are what shapes us to become better. It is hard to look at a tough situation and be hopeful or optimistic about how one can grow from such an ordeal, but IT IS possible! It all has to do with perspective.

Being imperfect humans makes us look at life in sections with a magnifying glass. We magnify the good times and we magnify the bad times even more so. We forget to look at how we got in such a situation and how we can get ourselves out. I've learned that Heavenly Father doesn't use a magnifying glass. He sees past, present, and future all at once. It is mind boggling! He sees how we get ourselves in sticky situations, He sees how we cope with that situation, and He can see which path we are going to take. That last part can be intimidating and maybe even scary for some. He knows what decision we are going to make before we even make it, both good and bad. He is ready for any step we take whether on the strait and narrow or not. Absolutely nothing is a surprise to Him. You may be asking why He doesn't keep us from making bad decisions and circumstances in which we become angry with Him and the answer is agency.

Agency is basically the ability to choose good or evil. Remember Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? If Eve wouldn't have partaken of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, then we wouldn't have been able to choose God of our own accord. Instead, we would choose to follow and praise Him because we know nothing else. We would know no sin, so there would be no need to repent, and there would be no need for a Savior to atone for our sins. Some of you may think that sounds great, but it isn't because we couldn't progress. Progression, according to Dictionary.com, means, "...passing successively from one member of a series to the next." If we didn't sin, there would be no need or ability for succession to another series of righteousness.

That being said, Heavenly Father respects our agency so much that He was willing to let a third of His children in Heaven choose not to follow His plan of salvation and progression. He continues to respect our agency today by letting us choose whether to lie or tell the truth, go to church or stay home, choose Him or somebody/something else, choose to study the scriptures or not, choose to do illicit drugs or be drug free. The list could go on and on. The effects of those choices on are ourselves and on others are endless. Yet, He knows it all and He lets us choose freely. Talk about a lot of trust in a very imperfect bunch... Regardless of our choices He loves us perfectly, even when we are cursing Him and thinking that He doesn't know us or care for us. He does know and He does care. In fact, He cares so very much that He doesn't want to force you or me to come unto Him and find peace. He wants us to choose Him ourselves because when we do so He can help and bless us freely and openly. He can help us see the good that will come after the bad.

Now that we know God loves us, from this point on, we can choose with confidence to praise the Lord in all circumstances. We can carry on in faith and hope for a brighter future. That brighter future may not come tomorrow, next week, or in the next three months, but it will come as long as we stay close to the Him.

Nephi from the Book of Mormon is a great example of praising the Lord in all situations. His older brothers, Laman and Lemuel, were jerks (for lack of a better word). They were always complaining, always unpleasant, and constantly trying to kill Nephi. If you think your brother is bad, let me tell you... You should read the Book of Mormon about Nephi's brothers and the Bible about Joseph's brothers, then rethink your opinion of your brother. Anyways... Nephi though having the worst guys for brothers still praised the Lord, even when they tied him up and left him to die. He wrote:

"Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions."

Even if we aren't like Nephi and we falter in our faith during troublesome times we can always turn back to God. It is never too late. If you are struggling with personal sins or find yourself in a situation you wish you weren't in and you have previously cursed God and turned away from Him, remember that because of agency you can turn back to Him and praise Him. And because of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for your sins and knows your pains and afflictions, you can repent and be reconciled to God without any trepidation.

I know that Christ is our Savior. I know that He and Heavenly Father knows and loves us perfectly. I know that Heavenly Father respects our agency. I know that we are capable to choose to praise God no matter where we find ourselves. I know that if we allow Him, God can keep us in the midst of darkness and doubt. I know that if we set the magnifying glass down we can see things as they really are and how they really can be. I know that Christ will leave the 99 for me and you. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the Words of God. And I share with you these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

P.S. Isn't that quote on the featured picture great?! I saw it and just had to add it! Found it on Pinterest!

Published by Courtney Watson