Day 41: Silver Linings

Alma 20:29

In Alma 20:29 we learn of the intense suffering of Ammon’s brother Aaron and some of his mission companions. After trying to teach different communities of Lamanites and being harshly rejected, the group ended up in prison where they experienced “hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions.” “All kinds of afflictions.” We each know what it is like to suffer. Whether disappointment, chronic pain, abuse, uncertainty, fear, afflictions hound our mortal lives.

The circumstances of Aaron’s imprisonment and release put me in mind of a phrase from the Doctrine and Covenants: “all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:24). The Lord turned a terrible experience for Aaron and his companions to great good for King Lamoni and his father. Lamoni became an independent ruler and was able to proclaim religious freedom in his land. Aaron and his companions were able to teach King Lamoni’s father, help him repent, and then aid him in establishing Christ’s church among his people. Aaron and his brethren eventually “brought many to the knowledge of the truth” (Alma 21:17). If you look at the sequence of events in Alma 19-20, you can see the Lord’s hand.

I don’t want to minimize anyone’s suffering. But I do want infuse hope into your experience. The Lord promises that if you “[s]earch diligently, pray always, and be believing…[and] walk uprightly and remember” your covenants, “all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:24). Remember that the Lord is bound by His promises. When we keep the commandments and fulfill our covenants, the Lord can open the windows of heaven. If we will be “patient in all [our] sufferings” like Aaron and his brethren, we can move forward with our lives, trusting in the Lord to turn even the worst suffering into great good. No experience will be wasted. He is a God of miracles who will transform all suffering, all sorrow, ALL afflictions into something of great worth that will be for your good.

Day 7: Patience and Timing

1 Nephi 18:8-23

Nephi, ever stalwart, records in 1 Nephi 18:23 that “after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land.” The preceding verses tell of the family’s embarkation and the beginning of their journey to the promised land. The Liahona shows Nephi where to steer, they have plenty of provisions, and everything is going well, fair weather and all. But then Laman and Lemuel stir things up, eventually getting mad enough at Nephi that they tie him up. Bad weather engulfs the ship and the Liahona stops working. After four days of tempest tossed seas, Laman and Lemuel finally release Nephi.

In the midst of this family drama at sea, and even while tied up in a lot of pain, Nephi maintains his faith and trust in God: “I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (v. 16). I remember years ago when God made me a promise at the outset of my mission that everything in my life would work out afterwards. Everything working out was my promised land. And even though I could literally count the days until then, I couldn’t have fathomed what lay between the delivery of the promise and its fulfillment. I in no way anticipated the challenges of those months, thinking and then wishing that I had already finished and reached my promised land.

Nephi’s perspective is so much healthier (temporally and spiritually) than mine was. Where I felt a tremendous amount of bitterness and impatience, Nephi felt gratitude and trust. Where I asked “why me?”, Nephi prayed for his oppressors and for the power of God to be made manifest. It will always be true that when the Lord makes a promise, He will fulfill it in His time. It is up to us to live worthy of the fulfillment no matter what challenges or length of time lies between.