Any science experiment requires multiple trials in order to test the consistency of results.
So shared BYU Chemistry Professor Jennifer B. Nielson at a BYU Devotional last month. When I heard her explain “experiment” this way and apply this definition to spiritual “trials,” I started to see many applications of this principle: (1) God tests the integrity of our character through repeated “trials,” (2) “experimenting” or acting on God’s word develops faith, and (3) I have seen consistent results in my life when I have “tested” God’s word.
1. We are tested throughout our lives by going through multiple “trials” — testing experiences and hardships. Ultimately, everything we go through is a piece of evidence that proves who are we at our very core — is our heart in the right place? Are the results consistent when the “variables” change? Are we kind to our friends when they ask us a favor and also kind to our own children even when their needs and demands seem overwhelming? Are we willing to pay tithing when we are in a good financial position and also when money is tight? When we realize we have inconsistent results in ourselves (when we have made a mistake), we can repent and resolve to perform better for our next trial – we try again.
2. The prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon invites all to “experiment” – to begin to act on God’s word and test the results (Alma 32). As we put God’s principles to the test in our lives, we develop faith. Jesus described this process too: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself’ (John 7:17). We can prove it to ourselves to the point that we are able to say we “know for [ourselves] that these things are true” (Alma 5:45-46)
3. My own faith has developed and continues to develop over several “trials” – both the hardship-kind of trial and the testing of God’s word:
- “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in his trials, and his troubles, and his afflictions” (Alma 36:3): As I’ve trusted and prayed for God’s help when things seemed overwhelming, He has provided peace and “daily bread” mercies to see me through.
- “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet” (Psalms 119:105): As I’ve studied scriptures, I have felt light and peace and direction.
- “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18): As I’ve asked God’s forgiveness, I’ve felt clean.
- “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5): As I have studied and prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true, if Christ lives, if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, or prayed to know how to respond to parenting predicaments, I have felt direction and enlightenment.
These results are consistent, so I know the principles to be true. Every time I perform the experiments correctly – with a sincere and humble heart, with real intent (Moroni 10:3-5) – the results are consistent. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the author of absolute truth, and we can know absolute truth over repeated experiments.
How can you experiment today on one of God’s principles? Are you willing to try?