"Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:4
This reminds me of something that Joseph Smith once said... "from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things" (Lectures on Faith 6:7). It seems that sacrifice is a part of learning who we are. Abraham faced a horrible choice... between his God and his son. Not that any of us really want to be torn like that... but until we face a similar choice, will we really know where our priorities are? until we face *and* overcome such a choice, will we ever learn confidence in the presence of God? We all have something in our lives that is so important to us that it rivals God in our affections... and facing a choice between severing our connection with God and severing our connection with that most important thing is difficult... more difficult than anything else we have yet experienced. Part of building our relationship with God is putting him first, recognizing and respecting his proper place in our lives. As we do this, we improve ourselves, and our confidence and ability in choosing good. God sent Abraham a ram to sacrifice instead of his son, showing us that it is the priority and the willingness to put God first that matters. If our other affections are bad for us... addictions, obsessions, whatever, then no ram will appear. Some things need to fall out of our lives. And the good things we are meant to have will fall into their proper places, after God. ... Even when no ram appears, it doesn't mean that God is trying to remove all joy from our lives. Only that God knows best, and doing it his way will work out better in the end than the way we wanted it to work out. When we lose something good sometimes we don't understand why until much, much later... but I suppose that is part of the point. God knows why, and part of learning to sacrifice is learning to trust that. Things will be well in the end, if we can learn to love and trust him and do as he asks.