In school, we get to watch caterpillars slowly weave a chrysalis of safety into which they cocoon themselves for a period of time. Though invisible to the world outside, this tiny insect goes through a beautiful transformative process. But the new creature does not magically appear one bright morning, it must fight and squeeze its way out of that which protected it all those weeks. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “Wrapped tightly in its cocoon, the developing chrysalis must struggle with all its might to break its confinement. The butterfly might think, why must I suffer so? Why cannot I simply, in the twinkling of an eye, become a butterfly? Such thoughts would be contrary to the Creator’s design. The struggle to break out of the cocoon develops the butterfly so it can fly. Without that adversity, the butterfly would never have the strength to achieve its destiny. It would never develop the strength to become something extraordinary.”1
We must know the struggle to treasure the peace. Opposition is a natural result from Adam and Eve’s choice to leave the garden upon their partaking of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. The prophet Lehi taught his son about the need for opposition, saying, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11)
Just because we must experience opposition does not mean we have to suffer through it. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a beautiful talk about just such a thing. He said, “Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful! It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”2
Have we not all known someone whose life has been what seemed unfairly burdened with struggle and yet they seem to be a ray of light to all around them? Can we truly have joy as we experience the sweet and the bitter? Yes! Nephi taught us just such a thing after his father died. Though his heart was heavy, he expressed gratitude to his God in a rousing sermon. “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” (2 Nephi 4:28-30)
I hope that we can learn to maneuver through opposition with the grace and enthusiasm that Nephi did through reliance upon our Savior. It is also my hope that we can use adversity and opposition to become something extraordinary, to become a new creature in Christ and fulfill our eternal destiny!
1 “Finding a safe Harbor,” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, General Conference April 2000, Sunday Morning Session
2 “Grateful in Any Circumstance,” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference April 2014, Sunday Morning Session