It is very natural that when there is something in our lives that makes us uncomfortable, or causes pain in some way, that we want the pain to go away. If I have a rock in my shoe, I want the discomfort it causes to stop. So, I of course take off my shoe, get the rock out and then things are fine.
As I visit with people feeling pain in life, they of course want the pain to be gone. However, if there is pain, then there is a cause of pain, like the rock in the shoe. It isn’t always so obvious what the cause is, but we want the pain to go away regardless of the cause. But could you imagine someone saying, “I don’t want to stop and remove the rock from my shoe, I just want my foot to feel fine with the rock in my shoe.” That would be kind of silly. Yet so often that is what we as people do. We don’t want to change anything, we just want things to change. We want to feel good regardless of our choices.
Sometimes a person comes to me with the hope that I will help them feel better, so they can be free of whatever their pain is. It is always my hope that I can help them, and most of the time we get good results. But sometimes I can’t help someone because they have not yet learned what they need to learn. Maybe they haven’t figured out what the cause of their pain is, maybe they need to learn patience, maybe they need to learn to trust God more, maybe this is meant to humble them and ultimately help them have a better marriage. There can be any number of life’s lessons this pain is meant to teach them. If they haven’t learned the lesson the pain is meant to teach them, removing the pain would be a disservice. They would miss out on the good this is meant do for their life. If a child thinks 2+2=5, it would be a disservice to move on to multiplication or algebra. We can’t skip rungs on God’s ladder of progression. Our challenges, our pain, our failures, our adversity, is mean to teach us what we need to learn so we can move forward and be more like Christ. We are each having the perfect challenges for our learning growth and progression. Don’t just seek to be free of the challenge, seek to learn from it so you don’t have to repeat it! Once you have learned the lesson, you can move on to the next lesson!
Spencer W. Kimball said, “Is there not wisdom in [Heavenly Father] giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?
“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.”
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 15.