Viewpoint: The parable of the tabernacle


I live about two blocks from the Provo Tabernacle. I can see it from my house. I could also see it that fateful day in December 2010 when a devastating fire destroyed all but the exterior walls of the building.

On Saturday, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland broke ground for those soot-stained walls to become hallowed ground as the Provo City Center Temple.

As I have passed the site recently, I have thought of what an example the building is to us.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Imagine yourself a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing, so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of; throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace.”

Put yourselves in the imaginary mindset of the Provo Tabernacle.  It was a symbol of the community and their growing faith. For decades, the tabernacle stood proud, opening its doors to spiritual and community events. Countless primary children sang on its stand. Music filled the rafters. Faith was shared.

Then, a fire seemed to destroy everything. The tabernacle stood as just a shell of its former self.

Next, instead of quick repairs and comfort, any remaining pews or interior walls are torn away painfully. It is exposed to the cold and rain. Walls are knocked about. Foundations dug up. Dimensions altered. Only years later, when the work is finished, does the tabernacle realize what it has become — an exalted temple.

Each of us have been knocked about by our own construction crews of life. Even when we have done all we can do, when we have done everything right, tragedy can still strike.

Sometimes after the immediate aftermath of a trial, we can think, “Yes, now the trial is over — things should settle down.” But instead we are asked to bend more, to stretch more, to endure more remodeling.

When standing in what can seem like our own ruins of life, we can be left asking why.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve advised, “When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, ‘Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to cause this?’ will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, ‘What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change?’” (Trust in the Lord, Ensign, Nov. 1995).

Someone once told me to find the joy in “trials and other blessings of mortality.” Last conference, President Henry B. Eyring of the Quroum if the Twelve said, “A great blessing could come from adversity to more than compensate for any cost.”

I have found these statements to be true. Looking back thus far in my life, I can see the moments where it seemed everything was falling apart and recognize how important they were in shaping and preparing me for the future. Granted, I’m only 22 and still have much to learn and experience in life, but these incidents have taught me what’s really important. They have prepared me for the future – opening doors I never would have known existed. They have shaped how I live my life. For me personally, they most often have taught me to trust in the Lord. He knows what He’s doing.

Heavenly Father knows us. He knows what the future holds and what will best prepare us. He knows our potential. When we would settle for being a small cottage, he would transform us into a grand castle.

Knowing this doesn’t necessarily make trials less painful. Life is still hard. Sorrow, tears and pain will still exist. However, I believe we can take comfort in a Savior who will cry with us, who knows our sorrows in a personal and intimate way. He has not, and will not, forsake us.

Knowing that can give us the courage to not only endure but to endure well.

Katie Harmer is the opinion editor for The Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily those of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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