(Man is become as God echoes Genesis 3:5, 22; Alma 42:3; Alma 12:34, 21 & other scriptures)
I ask, “God why is life so hard?” I hear no answer. I think to myself: ‘I sort of make it hard on myself, but the difficulty brings such rewards, that I chose to go through it.’ Then God told me, “this is true, and now you see, mankind is like unto God, for they make their own choices. The laws of the universe are set in that true rewards come high at costs, but you are free to choose to what degree you will suffer, and thus to what degree of reward you wish to receive. Think of it as spiritual and temporal capitalism. Your life doesn’t have to be this hard. I didn’t make it this hard. You’ve chosen for it to be this hard. For example, you didn’t sleep much this week because you wanted to go to school and to work on projects around your house.”
Well does the plan of salvation have various levels of heaven instead of 1 heaven or 1 hell! What we sew, that will we reap! Oh how many refuse to shoulder the weight of glory! Their choice to reject glory is the very cause of their eventual weeping in their lower stations! Well did the poet pronounce, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’” (John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892))
This life is designed to be the perfect placement test for the human race. Pre-mortality was the training, now is the brief exam! We will all get exactly what we wish, and we will all confess that the judgement of God are just! The perfect genius God himself did not design a flawed test! Oh the great need for repentance! Oh praise God for sending Jesus Christ to be our Savior if we will believe in him and hearken to his words! Where we end up after this life will be “our fault, not God’s” as Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said in his 2018 April address titled “Choose Ye This Day” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/choose-you-this-day?lang=eng). The Spanish phrase “si dios quiere” or the English equivalent “God willing” (literally ‘if God will’s it so) does not accurately represent our destiny, as it is us, not God, who chose our destiny. Let it also be noted that doctrines of pre-destination or fore-ordination by God are false. Though God may chose someone to complete a mission in life before that person leaves planet heaven to come to planet earth, the person still has the choice to accept or reject the mission to which God calls him.
D&C 132:16 speaks of someone who chose not to marry in the temple and thus disqualify for exaltation, and speaks of the weight of glory they were not willing to bear, “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.”
In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the king often is depicted with a staff which his crown leans on to support it, which suggests he wears a very heavy crown, which suggests royalty and divinity aren’t just about inheritance, they’re about work!
Now you may ask, if striving to obey God is what makes life hard, why are people’s lives hard even when they don’t care about God? Well for one those are a different type of hard, a type of hard which Jesus expressed on the cross when the Father withdrew for a moment to show him what life was like without his companionship to show Jesus what it was like to be a mortal without the companionship of God, akin to what happens to mankind when they ignore & disobey God. Another point is that sometimes the lives of those who don’t seek to serve God are easy in that they’re avoiding responsibility, and not using their resources to help others, never setting their own needs to the side for the sake of others. Now here is the final doctrine to understand which reveals why even those who don’t care about God suffer, and shows that yes, suffering is a result of trying to follow God: The doctrine is that everyone on earth chose to follow God in pre-mortality, and the suffering they experience in this life of having bodies is in from the choice they made in pre-mortality to follow God’s plan, which included obtaining a body on earth, and relying on the mercy of Christ. You see, 1/3 of those on planet heaven where we lived before we came to planet earth to get bodies chose not to follow God, and thus they were never sent to earth, and never did nor ever will obtain bodies. The leader of these fallen spirits is named Lucifer, more commonly known of as Satan, or The Devil. He and his fallen angels rejected God in the pre-earth life, thinking the plan of God too hard, and preferring an easier and more compulsory plan of forcing people to do good rather than allowing people to choose for themselves, which would mean inevitable war and suffering, but also would be the only way where the human race could make the real progress to becoming like God. To summarize, everyone who has come to earth, good or evil, chose good in the pre-mortal existence, and thus must go through the challenges of mortality, and WILL BE REWARDED for their trials of the body, as they will (everyone who came to earth) be resurrected, and have a body forever. President Packer taught that those who have bodies have power over those who do not. To have a body is infinitely better than to not have one, and the 1/3 who followed Satan get no bodies.
So every time you choose good over evil, specifically Jesus Christ over Lucifer, you will be blessed, and that involves a level of difficulty, but the rewards are exponential. It is akin to the real joy and endurance of an athlete compared the fake joy of a couch potato. The athlete is independent and can do all things, the couch potato is 2 seconds away from diabetes and death, and has very limited choices. Yes, the life of the athlete is in some ways harder than the life of the potato. That’s why life is hard, especially if you chose the path of the saints. Many get baptized and think all their problems are over, but it is not so. They get baptized, and they’ve begun their studies in the school of the Gods, and a core subject in that school is pain for others. Everyone in life goes through pain, but if you volunteer yourself for extra pain on behalf of others, that is when you become, with Jesus Christ, a savior on mount Zion, and as you continue on this path, your calling and election is sealed upon you, and your exaltation cometh in the morning!
If and when you are exalted, have you obtained an existence free of pain? No, as seen in the Enoch account where he witnesses God weeping. But know this: exaltation entails a fullness of joy. One of the lessons that we need to learn is to get rid of the “retirement” mindset. We think we work now so we can be done working forever later. This is contrary to the status of God. One of the divine traits of God, and a reason God retains his status, is that God works. Work is part of eternity among those who enjoy forever felicity. The ones who don’t work at the damned in hell – the sit around being tortured by their minds, gnawing, clawing, wishing they had something useful to be doing! Wishing they had not chosen the life they had, wishing they had not limited themselves into a prison cell!
Happily, the plan of God includes a release from hell for those wicked who have done their time. They graduate to the lowest kingdom of glory, which is infinitely inferior to the highest kingdom of glory, but through Christ, God is so good that he doesn’t even leave the wicked in hell. The only exception to this is the sons of perdition, namely those who were in outright rebellion against God in pre-mortality, namely the 1/3 who were cast out with Satan to never come to earth and receive bodies, and a handful of people who made it to earth with bodies, but there entered an outright and mature rebellion against God, not in ignorance, but knowing full well the character of God, then turning against him for immediate pleasures which Lucifer cunningly offers.
2 Nephi 9:10-12 shows that through Christ, hell-dwellers can eventually be released: “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. 11 And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. 12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.”
The LDS Guide to the Scriptures in the topic “Hell” gives the following clarification of how hell can have 2 meanings, first, that place the wicked go to suffer 1000 years (during the Millennium) before being resurrected to telestial glory, and second, as the permanent residence of Lucifer and his angels (the pre-mortal 1/3, and the few chose perdition during mortal life):
“Latter-day revelation speaks of hell in at least two senses. First, it is the temporary abode in the spirit world for those who were disobedient in mortality. In this sense, hell has an end. The spirits there will be taught the gospel, and sometime following their repentance they will be resurrected to a degree of glory of which they are worthy. Those who will not repent, but are nevertheless not sons of perdition, will remain in hell throughout the Millennium. After these thousand years of torment, they will be resurrected to a telestial glory (D&C 76:81–86; 88:100–101).
The quote continues describing now the second meaning of hell:
“Second, it is the permanent location of those who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In this sense, hell is permanent. It is for those who are found “filthy still” (D&C 88:35, 102). This is the place where Satan, his angels, and the sons of perdition—those who have denied the Son after the Father has revealed Him—will dwell eternally (D&C 76:43–46).” (LDS Guide to the Scriptures, “Hell”, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/hell?lang=eng)
These descriptions of hell show us that the “easier” life of the “couch potato” (apathetic towards religion) is not preferred to the “harder” life of the “athlete” (saint)!
I finish with this brief description of the reward of the saint since we have in part shown the punishment of those who elect to remain in sin.
D&C 76:92-95 describes the highest glory of the highest (celestial) kingdom of God, “92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever; 93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever. 94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace; 95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.“
D&C 132:20-24 speaks further about becoming Gods if we obey God in this life: “20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. 21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory. 22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. 23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. 24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.”
D&C 132:28-33 shows that part of Godhood is having an innumerable posterity like that promised to Abraham, the which God obviously has (it’s always multiplying): “28 I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was. 29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne. 30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them. 31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself. 32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. 33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.”