Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prophets Are People, Too

I really like the places in scriptures where you see raw feelings and interactions of the author, like Enoch and God in Moses 7 (verses 20-67, in the Pearl of Great Price) and what's been called "Nephi's Psalm" in 2 Nephi 4 (verses 15-35). One of these moments where you get a glimpse inside the real person writing is found in Ether 12.

Moroni, the son of Mormon, is going through and abridging these records. Just a few verses into this chapter, he takes a break from the historical text to go on a tangent about faith and its relevance, and he lists many examples of faith preceding great miracles that he's read about in the course of abridgment. After this, Moroni breaks down:
And I said...Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; and thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them. Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.
Sometimes that happens to me too. Usually when I see a great art piece, or hear a beautiful song played or sung, or whatever, I appreciate their great talent. Once in a while, if I'm already inclined to be discouraged, I see the great things others can do, and I feel like next to them, I'll never amount to anything. I know that that isn't true, but I still occasionally feel that way.

That's why I think this passage in Ether is so significant, because Moroni feels the same way too! He sees the great things done by others, and specifically compares himself to the brother of Jared, and puts himself down because he doesn't have the same talents. Moroni was a great man and a prophet, and he still felt lame sometimes by comparing himself to others. Something else that I thought was important to note is that Moroni still acknowledges that he does have strengths ("thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing"), but he isn't focusing on them - he's placing more importance on the things he lacks.

Here is God's response:
Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek; that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; and if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me--the fountain of all righteousness.
I've probably written about this before, but I've had something cool about this pointed out to me: that God says "I will show unto them their weakness." God shows us how he sees our weakness: not how we view our weaknesses, not how our friends see our weakness, or how our enemies see our weakness. God is perfectly just and perfectly loving, as well as the source of all truth. As I've posted before, the gospel of Jesus Christ is an optimistic one. Yes, the reality of our weaknesses hurts, and it's not fun. But, the miracle of the gospel is that Christ accounts for all of these pains, weaknesses, and mistakes, and with His help, we can conquer them.

The next verse, containing Moroni's response, reads:
And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith.
Even though Moroni's weakness wasn't removed from him at that time, he was able to receive comfort from God because he relied on his faith that things would work out. If it works for Moroni, it'll work for me and you too.

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