5 Highlights for “Tested, Proved, and Polished” by Elder Eyring

by | Nov 19, 2020

Henry B. Eyring

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

This beautiful talk gifts us with an empowered perspective about trials and discouraging episodes in our life. Primarily, it is essential to endure especially hard times (thank you, 2020) with some grace IF we want to become more like Christ and Heavenly Father. While this might not be a new idea – Elder Eyring helps us re-align our thinking and attitudes.

Elder Eyring’s complete talk can be found here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions which resonate the most with you and which you feel will make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All quotes by Henry B. Eyring and in blue unless otherwise noted.

Quote #1 (weeds)

This sweet story is a great warm-up for the rest of the talk:

Much of what I know came from my family. When I was about eight years old, my wise mother asked my brother and me to pull weeds with her in our family’s backyard garden. Now, that seems a simple task, but we lived in New Jersey. It rained often. The soil was heavy clay. The weeds grew faster than the vegetables.

I remember my frustration when the weeds broke off in my hands, their roots stuck firmly in the heavy mud. My mother and my brother were soon far ahead in their rows. The harder I tried, the more I fell behind.

“This is too hard!” I cried out.

Instead of giving sympathy, my mother smiled and said, “Oh, Hal, of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be. Life is a test.”

In that moment, I knew her words were true and would continue to be true in my future.

The reason for Mother’s loving smile became clear years later when I read of Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son speaking of Their purpose in creating this world and giving spirit children the opportunity of mortal life:

“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

Elder Eyring’s doubtful attitude about weeding changed when his mother told him it was supposed to be hard. Somewhere in life we get the idea things aren’t supposed to be hard, unfair, unjust or inconvenient. Which may lead us to focus on the “wrong” which causes indignation or a hardened heart. Instead, one of the most important realizations of our divine nature is “I can do hard things” (with grace and grit). Heavenly Father and Jesus do hard things…

Possible Questions: What happens to our perspective when we tell ourselves that something or someone “should” be easier or different? Do we sometimes approach disappointments and hardships as events that aren’t’ supposed to happen? Have you ever had a real-life situation where “the weeds grow faster than the vegetables and the soil is heavy clay”? (oh, can I ever relate!) What might help our perspectives? Have you ever found a silver lining you weren’t expecting (realized there are blessings associated with the difficulty)?

Quote #2 (one step)

As I read this quote, I realize sometimes I try too hard to speculate or anticipate the future. Fear and worry are where we predict the worst possible outcome and suffer for it ahead of time. Sometimes, I just need to be obedient and content with the promptings of today and trust the Lord’s plan for tomorrow.

As you live worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Lord can direct you to safety even when you cannot see the way. For me, He has most often shown the next step or two to take. Rarely has He given me a glimpse of the distant future, but even those infrequent glimpses guide what I choose to do in daily life.

The Lord explained: “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow … much tribulation.

“For after much tribulation come the blessings.”

One of my favorite hymns expresses this sentiment pefectly:
Lead Kindly Light #97

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Possible Questions: Why is trusting in the Lord important? (ex: trust is one of the highest forms of worship we can give the Lord.) What happens when we let fear and worry take over? How can we feel more security in life? (ex: heart-felt prayer, scripture study, progress in our gospel living, repenting a lot.) One of the gifts of the Spirit is a heightened sense of confidence, peace and well-being. How can we bring the Spirit into our life more?

Quote #3 (more like God)

Perhaps this part is the mini-lesson I treasure the most. Faithful endurance of trials and tribulations are the means by which we acquire more of God’s attributes and character.

The greatest blessing that will come when we prove ourselves faithful to our covenants during our trials will be a change in our natures. By our choosing to keep our covenants, the power of Jesus Christ and the blessings of His Atonement can work in us. Our hearts can be softened to love, to forgive, and to invite others to come unto the Savior. Our confidence in the Lord increases. Our fears decrease.

Now, even with such blessings promised through tribulation, we do not seek tribulation. In the mortal experience, we will have ample opportunity to prove ourselves, to pass tests hard enough to become ever more like the Savior and our Heavenly Father.

This terrifically sweet, funny 3-minute video of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin’s little story is a perfect commentary on this principle. “Come What May and Love It,” note: I find it helpful to turn on the closed caption (cc) because of Elder Wirthlin’s age. ==> Video Link

From Elder Wirthlin’s full talk [quoting his mom, when she said “come what may and love it.”]: I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.

Possible Questions: Is there anything about your nature that needs changing? Have you ever felt your heart soften? Forgiving someone else is sometimes very hard – have you ever forgiven someone when it was a challenge? How were you able to do it? How does Elder Eyring’s perspective help you – that we acquire more likeness to Jesus and Heavenly Father when we pass through hard trials?

Quote #4 (secret source of strength)

What lesson is complete without a reference to ministering? Service is the way forward, now and for years to come.

In addition, we must notice the tribulation of others and try to help. That will be especially hard when we are being sorely tested ourselves. But we will discover as we lift another’s burden, even a little, that our backs are strengthened and we sense a light in the darkness.

In this, the Lord is our Exemplar. On the cross of Golgotha, having already suffered pain so great that He would have died were He not the Begotten Son of God, He looked on His executioners and said to His Father, “Forgive them; for they know not what they do.” While suffering for all who would ever live, He looked, from the cross, on John and on His own sorrowing mother and ministered to her in her trial:

“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

Possible Questions: What are some of the earliest memories you have of serving others? What did you do and how did it make you feel? Who taught you to serve and how did they teach you? What happens to our own burdens when we serve others? What have you tried in your ministering that you feel works well? What have others done that you appreciated?

Quote #5 (polish)

This is a nice closing thought and sum-up if you have time. I like how Henry B. Eyring compares trials and hardships to polish. For nostalgic reasons (a beloved grandfather), I collect polished rocks on my travels. The rocks are much more beautiful because of the polish. Perhaps people are the same?

heart rock

I have seen people rise to great heights through proving faithful in terrible trials. Across the Church today are examples. People are driven to their knees by adversity. By their faithful endurance and effort, they become more like the Savior and our Heavenly Father.

I express my gratitude for the many faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ who bear burdens with steady faith and who help others to bear theirs as the Lord seeks to polish them a little more. I also express love and admiration for caregivers and leaders across the world who serve others while they and their families endure such polishing.

Final Comment

Remember, you were called to lead this lesson for a reason. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself! Fortifying others during troubled times is a tremendous contribution to the Kingdom of God.

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