Wednesday, May 28, 2014

TFOT: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee

May's TFOT lesson was based on "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" from Pres. Thomas S. Monson last October. It was a bit of a rough topic (have a tissue box ready at hand) just because everyone had some very personal experiences to share.

I took this whole outline but had to cut out a whole chunk in the middle. I'd say prepare a very sketchy outline and leave plenty of time for comments on this one. Good luck

I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee

This is the first talk Pres. Monson gave after the death of his beloved wife Frances. He calls her loss “profound” and says “She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant, and my closest friend. To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings.”

He goes on to say: “Of utmost comfort to me during this tender time of parting have been my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge I have that my dear Frances lives still. I know that our separation is temporary. We were sealed in the house of God by one having authority to bind on earth and in heaven. I know that we will be reunited one day and will never again be separated. This is the knowledge that sustains me.”

Pres. Monson, as you might expect, turns to the Gospel during difficult times for strength. He points out “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.”

Why must we experience suffering and sorrow?

Quote #1: “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?” 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.”

President Monson says that each of these test our ability to endure and poses the fundamental question: “Shall I falter, or shall I finish?”

What does this mean? He says that to finish means to endure to the very end of life.
What does that statement mean to you? Is it discouraging or encouraging? 
Interesting point: The statement seems to put it back on each individual. You choose. Will you stumble or will you press on? We cannot control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we deal with them.

Pres. Monson points to Job, who was perfect and upright but faced unthinkable difficulties and yet declared “Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. I know that my redeemer liveth.” Job, as well as countless other examples from the scriptures and church history, have remained steadfast and of good cheer.

Quote #2: “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.”

We are promised “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” What does that statement mean to you?

What is President Monson’s counsel about how to see our afflictions?
  • Afflictions are the real test of our ability to endure.
  • Difficulties allow us to change for the better, rebuild our lives in the way Heavenly Father wants, become more understanding, become more empathetic, become stronger, root our testimonies deeper.
  • Afflictions help us progress toward the goal of eternal life.
What does it mean to endure? Just to get through, or does it matter how we get through?

Quote #3: “This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow. “

What is President Monson’s counsel of specific things to do when going through affliction?
  • Don’t ask “Why me?”
  • Be patient about solutions.
  • Ask, “Shall I falter or shall I finish?”
  • Consider (and read) the story of Job. (Implied)
  • Remember others have passed the same way, endured, and overcame. Search out those stories.
  • Draw inspiration from stories in the history of the church.
  • Make the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of your life.
  • Face the challenges; meet them head-on.
  • Seek priesthood blessings (implied in the story of Brother Brems).
  • Don’t dwell on what you lack, but be grateful for your blessings.
  • Remember all the things you delight in that Heavenly Father gives.
  • Change for the better.
  • Rebuild your life the way Heavenly Father wants.
  • Persevere and endure.
  • Come to Christ when heavy-laden and ask for rest.
  • Cultivate commitment that does not ebb or flow with the circumstances of life.
  • Strive to be close to Heavenly Father by praying and listening to Him every day.
  • Remember God won’t forsake us.
  • Special scriptures, encouraging us to press on, can be placed in locations we will easily read to remind us of our Saviors desire for us to succeed.
  • Our faith in knowing the Savior loves us can be a reminder to us when we feel alone.
  • Visual pictures of our Saviors embrace can remind us that he is always near if we seek his help through prayer.
  • Looking to the future and not dwelling on the past can help us get out of a rut.
Quote #4: “My brothers and sisters, may we have a commitment to our Heavenly Father that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. We should not need to experience difficulties for us to remember Him, and we should not be driven to humility before giving Him our faith and trust.”

Any thoughts on this? What does it bring to your mind?
  • Cyclical patterns that we see in the scriptures, particularly the Nephites. As they are obedient and prosper in the Gospel, they are also blessed temporally. As there is peace and prosperity in the land, they become forgetful and lax in their spiritual responsibilities. As they stray, things become more difficult. Thus there are humbled and remember their lord.
It doesn’t always follow that pattern, does it? Sometimes we can still be doing everything right and things go wrong. Trials and difficulties should not be seen as PUNISHMENT. I think one of the most important lessons I have learned in the Gospel is that the Lord doesn’t promise the faithful that he will remove their burdens, but he does promise that he will always help to bear them.

Closing quote: "May we ever strive to be close to our Heavenly Father. To do so, we must pray to Him and listen to Him every day. We truly need Him every hour, whether they be hours of sunshine or of rain. May His promise ever be our watchword: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”"

**I looked at this outline and used parts of it for help with mine. Her comments are really helpful!

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