Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taking Strength in Trial - (It comes from Christ)

This was my journal entry from yesterday, when I was feeling pretty stressed out in the afternoon:
I've been stressed out today and feeling the weight of sin, weakness and trial. But I decided to open my scriptures and I turned to 2 Nephi 10. At first I had trouble focusing because of the gentle tumult around me, and voices from the classroom behind me. Then in verse 20, I started applying the scriptures to myself. I need to "remember [God], and lay aside [my] sins, and not hang down [my] head, for [I am] not cast off." Just because I'm going through a trial doesn't mean by any means that God has forsaken or forgotten me. He is leading me to "a better land", but I must cross the sea and go through the wilderness to get there. "The Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also." Verses 23-24 remind me to cheer up, that I still have my agency to choose happiness or misery; happiness comes from following Christ and misery follows from choosing Satan. Verse 25 reminds me that my salvation is dependent on Christ, through the Atonement. It's hard, but I can do it when I rely on Christ to be my strength.
The scriptures I ended up reading were from the perspective of Jacob, a prophet who was born in the Middle East but never saw Jerusalem or knew that civilization, because he was born in the desert as his family was fleeing persecution. God led away his family because they were righteous, and his father, Lehi, was also a prophet in 600 AD who prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, and because of his prophecies the people tried to kill him. Their family made it through the wilderness and crossed the ocean by ship to the Americas, where they were on "an isle of the sea", and felt pretty dang separated from the rest of humanity.

I hadn't thought about those scriptures in that particular way before, but it made sense. When we're going through hard times, we can wonder "Why have you forsaken me, God?". It can feel like the party's going on somewhere else, and in spite of our best efforts and desires, we feel separated from the happiness everyone else has. Whether that's actual happiness or just passing pleasure that others seem to have doesn't really matter. We feel left out, and left alone! "Why have you forsaken me?" It's important then to remember that we are never, ever forsaken. Read from 3 Nephi 22 (also Isaiah 22) and 1 Nephi 21 (also Isaiah 49).
1 Nephi 21:14-16 But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me--but he will show that he hath not. For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; they walls are continually before me.
The Lord loves us so much. We are His children, and He our Father. He will never, ever leave us alone. We can turn our faces from Him, but He will never turn away from us. This post is very related to the post just previous and may sound a little redundant, but I think that it addresses some of the biggest crises of faith in our lives, and the things we should remember when they arise. When all else goes wrong, and beloved friends or family betray you, or all hell seems to break loose and be bent on dragging you down, remember this: God's power is stronger than Satan. God is in control; He loves you and is watching out for you; He will take care of you, and you will be okay. We just need to have faith enough to trust Him, and faith enough to do what He asks. He'll help us. We will get through it when we rely on Him; there is no other way (we aren't strong enough on our own).

I'm so grateful that Christ performed the Atonement for us. I can't understand it all just yet, and probably won't until after I've moved past the mortal part of my life. But I understand enough. I know that Christ loves me enough to have suffered the punishment for all the things I've done wrong, and that all He wants for me is to confide in Him, to come unto Him and be His friend, and to take advantage of the marvelous gift He has given me, offering me a new life, free from pain. I can experience moments and times of that peace while I am in this life, and I can more fully enjoy it after I've died and gone on to heaven. I know the way to that peace and happiness because Christ has gone before me and showed me the way. I owe my everything to Him. And He did it all for me.

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