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Caldron of persecution makes way for progress

"We came to mortal life to encounter resistance. It was part of the plan for our eternal progress. Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow, there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being, or joy," said Elder Howard W. Hunter in an April 1980 general conference address.

Then of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Hunter said that the terrain over which the Church has traveled "is a grim reminder that struggle, persecution and sorrow have been the lot of our forbears. Kirtland, Jackson County, Clay County, Haun's Mill, and Nauvoo seem synonymous with suffering - a part of the tribulation the Lord promised that His people would have to endure." (See D&C 58:3.)"As we look back in retrospect, we see that it was because of the opposition encountered in our early history that our progress today has been made possible," Elder Hunter noted. "Out of that caldron of persecution and heartache, the Lord answered the soul-cry of the Prophet Joseph Smith in these words: `Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

" `And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.' (D&C 121:7-8.)

" `If thou art called to pass through tribulation, . . . know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (D&C 122:5, 7.)

"By the tribulation well endured by numerous of our progenitors, a desert blossomed as a rose (see Isa. 35:1), a tried and persecuted people provided a heritage of faith, and Zion put on her beautiful garments for all to see. (See D&C 82:14.)

Elder Hunter quoted Brigham Young, who said: "Let any people enjoy peace and quietness, unmolested, undisturbed, - never be persecuted for their religion, and they are very likely to neglect their duty, to become cold and indifferent, and lose their faith." (Journal of Discourses, 7:42.)

Elder Hunter spoke of "biographies of struggle" recorded in the scripures, particularly of Job, Abraham and Jacob in the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul in the New Testament and Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

"Comparing his own adversity to that of Paul, the Prophet Joseph [Smith] once wrote, `I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me.' " (D&C 127:2.)

Elder Hunter said: "These are biographies of faith - men whom God has honored because they relied on Him in times of their extremity. They learned the truth that God chose them `in the furnace of affliction.' (Isa. 48:10.)

"Today other biographies of faith are being written. . . . There are those who know pain and sorrow because of loss of loved ones; who know spiritual sorrow because children go astray; who experience loss of health, financial reverses, and emotional distress, and yet, like Job, resolve, `When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.' " (Job 23:10.)

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