As human beings, we work hard to be in control. We plan our schedules and our lives, we save our money for a rainy day. We (try to) exercise regularly eat our fruits and vegetables to maximize health and prevent disease. We wear our seat belts. And the list can go on.... We do myriad things because we believe they can protect us from harm, prolong our lives, reduce our pain.

And sometimes, they can.

But sometimes, nothing we do can protect us from horrible, painful, difficult things that can and do happen. The recent events in Japan are a deeply sobering reminder of that fact.

It's unnerving to realize that at any given moment, any number of things could change -- or end -- our lives.

As such, it's easy to feel fear. I know it is for me, anyway.

How grateful I am for my faith in such times -- reminding me that there is a purpose to life, and it goes beyond temporal, temporary protection and comfort. Opposition and trials and even death are part of a larger plan of God for our growth and salvation.

I don't mean in any way to minimize the horror of things like this tragedy in Japan. We should never stop caring about the proximate problems that face us, never stop seeking to serve those in need, never stop doing our part to do good and make our world better. But in the midst of all of this, I think it's important to remember our mortal limitations and remember our ultimate reliance on God. For me, times like this are times to regroup and assess my spiritual storehouse and preparations for whatever life may throw my way.

I love this from President Henry B. Eyring:

“Most of us have thought about how to prepare for storms. We have seen and felt the suffering of women, men, and children, and of the aged and the weak, caught in hurricanes, tsunamis, wars, and droughts. One reaction is to ask, ‘How can I be prepared?’

“And there is a rush to buy and put away whatever people think they might need for the day they might face such calamities.

“But there is another even more important preparation we must make for tests that are certain to come to each of us. That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.

“What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.”

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