PROVO — An unexpected trial in Ronald E. Bartholomew’s life has given him new admiration and respect for the biblical figure of Job.

“I’ve had quite the journey the last few months,” Bartholomew said in the opening moments of his BYU Education Week presentation. “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This has really helped me appreciate Job better than I ever did before. I feel like I’m telling this presentation from a perspective of experience rather than just talking about it.”

Bartholomew’s online presentation with practical applications from the Book of Job and his personal experience with Parkinson’s disease was one of many classes made available to patrons last week as part of BYU Education Week’s revamped online format.

BYU Education Week was originally scheduled Aug. 17-21. Due to the effects brought on by COVID-19, organizers adjusted to have more than 50 presenters create virtual classes covering a wide range of topics. The classes became available Oct. 7 and online access will continue through March 31, 2021. Presentations can be viewed repeatedly and on demand.

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The goal of BYU Education Week is to help individuals seek knowledge, understanding and be strengthened spiritually. This year’s theme comes from the New Testament, James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”

As part of his 33-minute presentation, Bartholomew — writer, researcher, retired religious instructor, and president and founder of LDS Mission Studies — recounted the Old Testament story of Job, a righteous man whom the Lord allowed to suffer and lose everything as a test of his faith.

Bartholomew’s battle with Parkinson’s disease forced him to retire, has prevented him from doing things he wanted to do and has been difficult for his family. Through study and personal experience, Bartholomew has gained a new perspective and learned valuable lessons from Job’s story, many of which he shared in his presentation.

First, although it’s difficult for us to understand the reason for everything, keep in mind that the Lord knows the reason for everything, including our trials, temptations and the difficulties we face on a day-to-day basis, he said.

Second, the Lord didn’t give any trials to Job, he allowed them to happen. It’s the same for us, he said.

“We don’t need to understand our trials to endure them well. I don’t understand my trial. I have no idea why I was given this disease. ... That doesn’t matter. I don’t need to understand. I just need to endure it well.” — Ronald E. Bartholomew

Third, no matter what happened to Job, he persevered, remained faithful and endured to the end.

“We don’t need to understand our trials to endure them well,” Bartholomew said. “I don’t understand my trial. I have no idea why I was given this disease. ... That doesn’t matter. I don’t need to understand. I just need to endure it well.”

A fourth lesson is to keep praying for revelation and answers but wait patiently upon the Lord. Bartholomew believes understanding will eventually come.

“This is a tough one. Job kept praying and praying for revelation and answers, yet they didn’t come. I know what that feels like,” he said. “We need to wait patiently upon the Lord for the answers to come why we’re having the trial we’re having.”

Fifth, one of the biggest lessons found in the Book of Job is that the righteous suffer. Bartholomew referenced the suffering of Jesus Christ, Joseph being sold into Egypt and Joseph Smith anguishing in jail. But there was a purpose.

“The Lord allows his people to suffer so they become more like him,” he said. “Do I like suffering? No. Would I wish this on anybody? No. Am I glad that I have this trial? No. No, I’m not terribly happy about it all. But it is what it is. The righteous suffer. That’s just something that happens. But we can take heart in knowing that the Lord allows the righteous to suffer for his purposes to make them better in the end.”

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Finally, suffering allows a person to develop charity and compassion for others. Those are attributes Bartholomew has gained through his own difficult journey.

“I feel like I have more charity now than I ever have before. Maybe I had to have this trial so that I could develop charity, I don’t know. ... But this trial has allowed me to love people that I hadn’t loved before in a way that I never had loved them before,” Bartholomew said.

“We should love others no matter what because we don’t know what they are going through. Our friends and family members may be going through trials like Job. We don’t know.”

For more information on BYU Education Week, including classes, presenters and cost, visit educationweek.byu.edu.

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