Are you in constant fear of the future and what it might bring? Are you unable to support yourself and terrified that your former spouse won't come through with payments? Are you the former breadwinner, but faced the loss of a job or business and now feel like you are in a constant state of struggle just to not be homeless? Are you so anxious about your circumstances that you can't even open your mail because you don't want to deal with whatever is inside? Are you depressed and worried that no one is going to want to date or marry you, and you will live the rest of your life alone? Do you have significant worries about a child without the support of the other parent? Have you experienced a faith crisis because you believe you did everything the church asked you to do, in terms of faithfully serving a mission or marrying a returned missionary in the temple, serving in the church, paying your tithing, keeping the word of wisdom and the law of chastity, trying to honor your covenants and be a good spouse?
I could go on and on with the questions that are familiar to many mid-singles. As I raise these issues, I am reminded of what my brother said to me about a faith crisis he had following the death of our youngest brother. Our brother died a truly horrible death from a brain tumor at age 17. My brother said that he had grown up believing in God as a kind of "cosmic dog trainer" doling out goodies to those who do his will. While our family was not perfect, he felt that both my brother and the rest of our family had really tried to live the gospel and didn't deserve the pain we were experiencing. I have heard the same thing from many mid-singles experiencing the loss of their eternal family.
Let's dispense once and for all with the cosmic dog trainer theory. Every single person that lives on the Earth is going to experience tragedy in one way or another. In Luke 13:4-5, Jesus spoke of tragedy:
"[T]hose eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Is he literally telling them that a tower is going to fall on them if they don't repent? Is he telling them they are about to be punished for sins with a tragedy? No! He says those 18 people who were killed when the tower fell on them were not particularly more sinful than anyone else in Jerusalem. He is talking about perishing spiritually. Jesus also taught that God, "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Luke 5:45). Going through a tragedy involving another person's choices does not reflect that you have done something seriously wrong, and receiving blessings does not necessarily reflect that you did everything right.
So, if everything that happens to us is just random, how is there any hope in that? Well, I don't mean everything is just random. I just mean that many tragedies do not reflect either sin or a deficiency of wisdom. If you allow any tragedy to make you wiser, you have hope that it may not be repeated.
I suggest that we trust in the Lord's promises. That includes the promise that, "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). That means that even the tragedies that come along will ultimately turn into something joyful.
I have often said to this group that many of the best things in my life came from going through a second divorce and getting laid off from my corporate job in Houston Texas within a few months of each other. Without those tragedies, I wouldn't be advising the Governor and the Attorney General and the Legislature about constitutional issues--something I am passionate about. I would likely still be running oil and gas titles in Texas and Mississippi--which was just a job. I wouldn't have Cathy--the love of my life--and her two sons. The world would not have "Intentional Courtship" or LILY. I bless both of those "tragedies" which lead directly to the blessed life I have today.
Janice Kapp Perry was bedridden for three months with a severely injured leg. It gave her the time to try writing music. She learned that she was good at it. She has since practically rewritten the children's songbook and many other uplifting songs that have blessed the lives of millions. Was it a tragedy that she injured her leg? No. It would be a tragedy if she hadn't.
"[B]e not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
Did your spouse sell you into Egypt? Have you wondered if your life has amounted to anything? Have you felt like circumstances have prevented you from reaching your potential? You are a divine son or daughter of our Heavenly King and Queen--anointed to become kings and queens yourselves. Everything that has happened to you was God working in your life to make of you all He intends you to be.
Keep hope alive. Trust in God's promises. Seek to know His purposes. Resist the temptation to become cynical and negative. Make an intentional decision to choose light rather than darkness. Let God make of your life something greater than you could have made yourself. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, "Mere Christianity":
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
Believe it. Live it. Become that palace that God intends to come and live in Himself. Whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm and filled with God's power. As the Reverend J.D. Liddell advised his son, Olympic gold medalist Eric Liddell, "Don’t compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil. Run in God’s name and let the world stand back and wonder.”