Sunday, October 19, 2014

Alma 44

(October 19, 2014)
                When our plans fail, and we find ourselves in disaster or ruin, do we properly recognize what brought it about?  Do we look inward for the aspects of our character and our moral failures that brought about our downfall (and, by so doing, begin to extricate ourselves)?  Or do we, like the Lamanites, blame the ‘breastplates’ of our lives – those around us, circumstances, our family, our ecclesiastical leaders, or anyone we can find for what is going wrong in our lives?

                Suffering, tribulation, failure, adversity, and sorrow are part and parcel of the human condition.  They come from any number of sources, but they all share a common goal – each of them carry with them the capacity for drawing us closer to God, increasing the presences of His Spirit in our lives, and bringing us peace and knowledge of Him.  While it is unreasonable to believe our lives will be without challenges (or to uniformly assign moral blame for our adversity), if we are not drawing closer to God in our adversity (whatever the source) that is a problem with us and not with anyone or anything else.

                When I am suffering, I can sometimes see where that suffering is coming from – and sometimes I attribute it (correctly, in my mind) with sources outside of my control.  Nevertheless, I am suffering.  But if that suffering that I am experiencing is pushing me away from God, decreasing my peace and my faith, then that is a moral failure of my own and cannot be attributable to the person that put me in the situation to suffer in the first place.

                This is a lesson that I have learned at great cost.  I was fortunate to begin to see past my desire for blame and justification and to recognize that regardless of why I am in a particular situation I am still morally responsible for how I handle the situation once I am in it.  It has led to a couple of painful months of soul searching, but the rewards on the other side (when I can honestly say that I have been through suffering and the suffering has brought me closer to God) makes it all worthwhile.  It is a wonderful thing when I reached the point where I could kneel in prayer and genuinely thank the Lord for pain that I was desperate for Him to remove only a few months ago.

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