Thursday, November 20, 2008

James 1:3: Patience

James 1:3 is a short verse (in order to form the complete sentence, I've included verse 2 as well):

2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

I find it interesting that James mentions it is the trying of our faith that "worketh patience," and not the trying of our strength, or talents, or intelligence.

As my faith is tried, ultimately I receive the reward for remaining faithful. This helps to increase my faith, so that next time my faith is tried, I know that by patiently remaining faithful, I will see the promised blessings.

A trial of any sort requires patience, but perhaps the best way to gain patience is by exercising faith.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Supreme Being

I sometimes think about whether or not there is a God or whether or not there is life after death, and that sort of thing. This is not because I am doubting, but because I like to try to see things from many points of view, to test out the various theories to discover truth.

I do not understand why anyone would choose to not believe in God.

If I did not believe in God, all I would have to believe in would be myself, and heaven knows that's not very encouraging news at all. I'm not the fastest or the strongest or the smartest or the most brilliant or the most beautiful of anything. I'm weak, if you want to know the truth. If I don't believe in God, I will never be enough. One person is so pitifully small. What can I do? I can never accomplish everything that I want to accomplish in this life. I will always be overwhelmed and overcome.

But if I do believe in God, I have something more than my own strength upon which to rely. If I am weak it does not matter, because Heavenly Father will make me strong enough to meet my challenges. If I am sad there is always hope in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection and eternal life and the love of God. If I am wronged I know there will eventually be a right. Everything balances out. Faith blossoms in the soul. Life is laced with hope.

In the Book of Mormon, when the people forgot God and boasted of their own strength, they were left to their own strength (Helaman 4:13). But the people who remembered God, who believed in God and made him an active part of their lives, those people were strengthened beyond their own capacity.

For me, I must believe in God. Nothing else makes sense. How else could justice prevail and all wrongs be righted? I cannot believe that everything in this earth is just random, that strength and wealth and popularity really are the best ends to strive for, that although I feel and think and love and exist it is all worth nothing because eventually I'll die. No. There must be a point. There is a point. There must be someone in charge, and there is.

Of course there's a God. It only makes sense.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Alma 1 and 2: The Amlicites

I flipped to Alma 1 the other day (v. 19-33), and found it rather interesting:

The Nephites were persecuted for their humility, but some of them were proud and fought back (v. 22). Because of the growing contention, many members were excommunicated or fell away (v. 24). This was a trying time for the steadfast members of the church, but the good news is that the people who bore their trials with patience, and who exercised Christ-like love to their neighbors, were sustained and prospered.

Things got more interesting in chapter 2:

Amlicites versus Nephites: Amlici wants to be king (I wonder how many of the apostate Nephites were Amlicites...), but according to Nephite law, such a step would have to be voted upon.

A vote was taken.

Guess who won? Not Amlici.

The Amlicites were upset. They didn't like the way the vote had turned out. So instead of accepting the vote of the people, they decided to call Amlici their king anyway, and kill anyone who disagreed with them.

There was a battle. A few battles, actually. I'll spoil the ending for you and tell you who won: the Nephites. Even when the Amlicites joined up with the Lamanite armies, the Nephites won.

Why? Because the Nephites were righteous, so "the Lord did strengthen the hand of the Nephites" (v. 18). They were obedient. They didn't fight except to defend their lives and their families. Thousands of Nephites died in the battle, but they did ultimately win, and the Amlicites eventually gave up and ran away.

What can I learn from this? Keep the commandments, be faithful and obedient, love my neighbor. The Lord will take care of the rest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Faith To Be Healed

When we receive a blessing to be healed from a physical ailment, we are told that it is by our faith that we are healed, in addition to the power of the priesthood and God's will. I wonder if that faith part means not only faith in the fact that we will be healed, but faith in Christ in general. As we are healed, we have to continue exercising faith in Christ to heal all aspects of our lives, not just the one illness we have overcome.