Be Patient in Afflictions

Fritzner A. Joseph
Fritzner A. Joseph and his wife, Gina.

When I sit to reflect and think on life’s objectives, there is a Haitian proverb that always comes to mind: “Dèyè mòn, toujou gen mòn” meaning, “There are mountains beyond the mountains”.

Ever since I was a small child, I have heard people repeat this proverb. But only as I started to have experiences with the restored gospel, did I begin to fully understand what this proverb meant.

The restored gospel teaches that our Heavenly Father sent us to this earth with a well-established plan. The Lord declared: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” (1)

We are living in difficult times, we may feel discouraged or lonely, with no strength left to continue forward. To carry the burdens, and face all the challenges placed upon us, we will need to make greater efforts to look forward with faith. We will need to always trust our Heavenly Father.

The Agony in the Garden, by Frans Schwartz
The Agony in the Garden, by Frans Schwartz

Our Savior Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He described what he endured in this way: “which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain…” (2)

When faced with the reality of Gethsemane, He called on His Heavenly Father: “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will but thine, be done.” (3) Heavenly Father heard his plea and sent “an angel unto Him from Heaven, strengthening Him.” (4) Even with the support of the angel, His suffering continued. The scriptures record, “and being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (5)

Just as Jesus Christ called on His Father in His suffering, in our times of grief, distress or suffering, we too should never stop praying. Our Heavenly Father has given us the gift of prayer to keep us well connected with Him.

I have no idea what difficulties you are walking through right now; I know not what challenges or afflictions you are living right now. Your trials may be personal or family related. However, I know and can testify that our Heavenly Father loves and will never abandon you. He loves all of His children as a tender parent and has promised: “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” [footnote: Doctrine & Covenants 88:63]

When the prophet Joseph Smith was in the midst of his great challenges, the Savior told him: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (6)

The Lord continued: “Be patient in afflictions, for thou [shall] have many.” (7) Further on the Savior added, “Therefore, hold on thy way… fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.” (8) We only need to hold on firmly, believe and not be afraid. The Lord promised us: “knowledge upon knowledge, that [we may] know the mysteries and peaceable things – that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” (9) In a similar way President Nelson declared: “during times of deep distress, as when illness reaches pandemic proportions, the most natural thing for us to do is to call upon our Heavenly Father and His Son—the Master Healer—to show forth Their marvelous power to bless the people of the earth.”(10)

In challenging times, there are no weapons stronger than prayer.

Personally, I have had many days of affliction that have brought me to tears. For example, on February 5, 1975, my father died suddenly. I was filled with sadness. But that was not all, on April 14th of the same year, my mother passed to the other side of the veil as well. In that moment, I too wanted to die. I felt abandoned. It felt as if the whole world had fallen on top of me. The only thing that brought me pleasure was the times I played soccer, but they would only give me momentary relief from my pain.

However, everything changed in November 1978, after I received an invitation to learn about the church from brother Frederic Templeman, a Canadian who was then living in Haiti. It was the first time I had heard of the restored gospel. I was deeply touched, and after six months of study, on the 25th of May 1979 I was baptized. That moment changed my entire life. It was the first time I felt a joy and a peace that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can provide.

Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple
Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple

A dear sister has shared a similar experience with me. Adversity is not foreign to Sister Julie Micienne Etello. On January 12, 2010, she lost her two daughters and three grandchildren during the Haiti earthquake. She told me of the pain she has and continues to feel. When I asked her how she holds on, her quick response was: “Prayers and the temple”.”

She continued, “when I am at the temple, I feel peace and I feel great joy when I participate in all the temple ordinances. It is a great blessing when we can feel the presence of our Father in Heaven when we face tribulation.”

There is no doubt we are living in a time of great trial, sickness, social and economic problems. But it is also a time when the Lord has reserved many opportunities and blessings for those who remain faithful to their covenants. Here is His promise: “blessed is… he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.” (11)

May we continue in faith to claim our reward is my prayer.

[1]      Abraham 3: 25

[2]      Doctrine and Covenants 19: 18

[3]      Luke 22: 42

[4]      Luke 22: 43

[5]      Luke 22: 44

[6]      Doctrine & Covenants 122: 7

[7]      Doctrine & Covenants 24: 8

[8]      Doctrine & Covenants 122: 9

[9]      Doctrine & Covenants 42: 61

[10]    President Russell M. Nelson: “Opening the Heavens for Help.” Liahona May 2020

[11]    Doctrine & Covenants 58: 2