Be of good comfort

Today as I was studying the miraculous exodus of the people of Alma from under the hand of Amulon (the former Priest of King Noah who had aligned himself with King Laman), I was struck to the core by the scripture in Mosiah 24:13-14—And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions saying Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

And I will ease the burdens that are put upon your shoulders that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage;and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses of me hereafter, and that ye will know of a surety that I, the Lord do visit my people in their afflictions. When the people of Alma were finally released by a miracle, they found that Zarahemla was but twelve miles away.

This short scripture has much meaning and parallel not only for our study of people of the past, but for the people of today.

The parallels are easy to find:

  1. Near to this same time, Limhi’s people had suffered similar persecution from the Lamanites upon their belated conversion to the words of Abinadi, the propet they had slain.  The Nephite Ammon had come among them, repeating Abinadi’s teachings.  However, upon their conversion, they experienced many trials and longed to be united with their kindred—the Nephites at Zarahemla from whom they had been parted for 3 generations.  The Lord allowed them to suffer persecution, until their faith was sufficient for them to experience the miracle of deliverance.
  2. The most obvious parallel is that of Moses and the Children of Israel.  Their initial deliverance was spectacular enough that even today is is remembered in the Jewish festival and ritual of the Passover.  But what happened to the people when they were delivered from the Egyptians?  They put themselves in bondage once more, because even after the miracles they had seen, they did not“stand a a witness of [the Lord] hereafter.” They did not get it.  They did not use this miracle to “know of a surety that [the Lorddoes visit [his[ people in their affliction.  Instead they turned to idols and wandered the desert for forty years, when in actuality the promised land was but a short distance from the Red Sea.

 In all three of these cases we find common elements:

  1. The people were under cruel persecution which they did not bring upon themselves.
  2. Their deliverance could only be brought about by a miracle.
  3. Most importantly, the Lord wished the people to acknowledge and stand as a witnesses that during their captivity and deliverance were at the hand of the Lord.

Why was it so important that the people suffer enough to learn this lesson?  Because they must develop a faith so strong that they could call upon the Lord for miracles in the future, so that they could act as missionaries to their own families and to the their fellow man that their God was a God of miracles and could do anything if they only remained faithful to Him under all circumstances.

What about the people of Monson?

Every day seems to bring fresh news of multiple afflictions that cover the whole earth.  There is seemingly no where we can escape wickedness, corruption, natural disasters, poverty, disease.  THE LORD WILL HAVE A TRIED PEOPLE.  Why?  Because it is only through learning to call on Him for our every need that we will develop the faith required for the building of Zion in this time of great wickedness.

Two further thoughts come to mind regarding our generation:

Heber C. Kimball’s prophesy: The time will come when no man or woman can endure on borrowed light.  He who does not have it will not stand.

Christ used light in his parable of the ten virgins.  In order for this scripture to make sense, you really need to see one of the lamps the virgins carried.  They remind me of a small slipper,closed, except for a hole on the top for the flame or light.  It is literally impossible to fill another’s lamp from your lamp.  If we are to have light, we must “purchase” it ourselves by learning to have the faith demonstrated by the people of Alma.  Their faith in the Lord grew when they knew it was He who was lightening the burdens on their backs so they could not feel them.

This is the reason trial is associated with faith.  In order to have faith to do or participate in miracles, we must first “grow” that faith by experiencing answers to our prayers in smaller things.  Our lamps are not going to be full of the faith we need to see the Bridegroom, if they just sit neglected on the shelf.  No.  Our faith must be nourished in this day and age by learning to rely on the Lord literally for our safety each day, and then acknowledging to him and offering thanks when we do experience safety.  And when things hedge up our way, we must use our faith to cling to the Lord, drawing personal comfort from him until the roadblock is removed.

Our small experiences with faith give us greater faith.  In our family, we have one trial which seems to recur way too often.   At first, I will admit that the trial was a desperate one for me.  However, after living with it off and on all my married life, I hope I am to the point where, when this trial is upon us. I give no thought to it, but carry on with my life, my heart open and ready to receive once again a miraculous blessing.

The scriptures continually bear witness that trials prepare us for great blessings.    Study the trials of our spiritual forebears and how people of faith were redeemed.  Liken their situations to your own lives.  Do you have the faith of an Esther, the young David, Joseph who was sold into Egypt, or Elizabeth who gave birth in old age?  Of course we could go on and on, because the scriptures exist in our day to offer us a primer or workbook like little children have, to give us examples to use in the everyday trial of our faith.

We need faith in this dispensation as never before, because the war we fight is “to the death.” Satan is determined to destroy us so that no one will be here to greet the Savior at his coming.  And we won’t be there, unless our lamps are burning bright, filled with the oil of faith.

G.G. Vandagriff has been a Meridian columnist since the beginning and considers it to be one of the great blessings in her life.  She is also the author of twelve books, the most recent being The Only Way to Paradise.  Visit her at her, and leave a comment!