Whenever people talk about trials and afflictions, I often feel like the middle parts are forgotten. The middle parts of trials, where the pain, work, and counseling with the Lord occurs, sometimes get glossed over in favor of the blessings that come after the trial. I’ve noticed that sometimes we forget, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the journey of faith we take in the middle of trials is often the most important part.
Our growth and sanctification most often happens in the middle.
One particular trial (that I’m still going through) started a few years ago, when I realized I needed to make a change in my career path. I decided to take the Church’s Find a Better Job self-reliance class and felt confident that I had the tools necessary to find a better job right away.
But as it turned out, that wasn’t what the Lord had in mind for me.
I did everything I could to find a new job. And I initially thought I was doing well with my search, until I got rejected from the first job I interviewed for, and the second too. And then another.
I received countless rejection emails. A few times I even made it to the final interview in the hiring process, but someone else was always chosen over me.
After all these crushing blows, I wasn’t sure if I’d recover my confidence. I started losing faith in myself. I felt like I was worthless and incapable, and I was convinced I would never experience the joy of working somewhere I truly loved.
One night during this time of soul-crushing agony, I realized that I hadn’t been counseling with Heavenly Father about my job search. Through tears, I apologized for not communicating with Him and pleaded to know what I was missing and why it wasn’t working out. In a quiet moment, the Spirit calmed my aching heart, soothed my nerves, and whispered in my mind, “Have faith; it’s not the right time yet.” That message equally calmed and broke my heart.
I was positive that I needed to be working elsewhere, but that soft impression from the Spirit helped me have faith that Heavenly Father would lead me to blessings at the right time.
So I halted my job search and focused on other things in order to prepare myself for a change. I focused on things I could control. I attended more training classes at work, began seeing a therapist, started studying my scriptures more fully, and began counseling with the Lord regularly about everything in my life.
Over the next few months, I still didn’t have the job I wanted, but I felt peace.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Although I was devastated at first, I came to realize what a blessing it was that I hadn’t gotten a new job, because I probably would have been laid off and suddenly found myself unemployed, in a new city, and completely alone in the pandemic. So I took time during quarantine and social distancing to reflect, ponder, pray, and deepen my faith.
When the April 2020 general conference rolled around, a message from Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in which he compared the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple to our own testimonies resonated with my soul. He said that our earthly trials, “similar to an earthquake, are often difficult to predict and come in various levels of intensity—wrestling with questions or doubt, facing affliction or adversity, working through personal offenses with Church leaders, members, doctrine, or policy. The best defense against these lies in our spiritual foundation.” 1
The Spirit testified to me that if I worked on my spiritual foundation, Heavenly Father would guide me to the job I had been praying for. I committed to studying Come, Follow Me, reading the scriptures, serving more faithfully in my calling, and having weekly chats with a trusted friend.
As I worked on my spiritual foundation daily, I saw my faith grow. I felt greater hope, and my understanding of Heavenly Father’s timing developed as I began to see His hand in my life each day. And most importantly, I discovered how the Spirit speaks to me.
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, once said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.” 2 I realized the Lord was sanctifying me through this trial and teaching me how to truly become who He needed me to be.
As I have looked back on this journey, I’ve realized that being sanctified through the power of the Savior is never going to be easy. It hasn’t been for me. But as I have relied on Him and also done my part to have faith and take steps like improving my professional skills, strengthening my spiritual foundation, applying for jobs, and waiting upon Him, I’ve witnessed how He can help us get through the difficult yet beautiful middle with faith.
I don’t know how long the middle of my trial of finding a steady, enjoyable career path will last, but I’ve grown so much through this experience. And I know Heavenly Father and the Savior want me to walk with Them so They can help me keep moving forward.
Heavenly Father and the Savior love us deeply. They are here to guide us and lift us and help us maintain our faith through our trials, especially through the middle parts. Though the middle can be long and uncertain, one thing is certain: If you rely on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, you will be led to greater blessings. And you will be able to look toward the future—the end after the middle—with faith.