An excerpt of an e-mail with friends about tribulation and the different ways people deal with it.
After thinking about excommunicated Bishop Young, your Steve, and Uncle (that is what I will call him, your friend’s uncle) this is what I have come up with. I think I hinted at some of it.
“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Ne 2:12).
People murmur because they know not God.
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (Philip 2:14).
“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; belessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:21-22).
The Lord gives, and he takes away. Nowhere am I aware that the promise is given that our family will not wander. It is not given that they have not their agency or the natural course of events don’t take place. All people get sick, all have sufferings, all have difficulties; no matter how faithful they are. Look at Christ, look at Joseph Smith, look at Joseph of old, look at Job, and the list goes on.
So I have been thinking about this quite a bit, obviously as I e-mailed you about it.
“And when the people complained it displeased the Lord; and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp” (Num 11:1).
In reading the whole eleventh chapter of Numbers I think of these people I know. They want meat, they want water, they want this, and they want that. It just never is good enough for them. Then when something goes wrong, they are the first ones to point a finger. It doesn’t seem like it is God to me. Seems like it is the person. I mean, we are talking of Israel here, keeping the law of Moses here and very strict. Even they in the midst of obedience seems to have something awry and still struggle.
I have come to personally believe that being righteous does not remove bad things from happening. It in a sense takes you above the low, mean, and doggerel. It gives the buena vista, the grand picture. Bad things still happen. Not that I am righteous by any means, but look at my life. Look at my family. Not that we are saints, but we are no more sinners than the rest, but we have our share of woes. Don’t we all. It is all how we view them. Do we live by faith?
If we don’t know or understand the Lord’s way, then we complain and murmur. It is just a given. When we seek the Lord and his ways, then we live by the comforter, and knowing all will workout. Peace innervates our lives.
This hit home tonight in reading the scriptures. “His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand. From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail. For thus saith the Lord – I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.”
So, those who are faithful and serve God, they will have their reward, and will be filled with peace and light. What is more is how the Lord continues. “And to them shall I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:3-10).
I think that is easily applicable to Bishop Young, Brother Steve, and Uncle. Those who are faithful and serve God (faithful and serve!) will be filled with peace and light. They will know the mysteries, and I think that includes the mysteries of their family. FOR MANY GENERATIONS, their wisdom shall be great.
Remember, those who know the dealings of that God who created them will not murmur. So, if they were living the above, not only would they know concerning their family, but they would know the mysteries of God and not be murmuring and complaining to begin with. Their family’s apostasy/inadequacies would be viewed in the proper perspective.
What is more, don’t forget this promise, “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance” (Alma 26:22).
It seems to me that if we are faithful, repenting, and praying continually without ceasing, our family would not go astray. However, if they did, we would have the mysteries revealed unto us, at least that all would be well and we are doing what we can.
Divorces take two, so it may not have been his fault he was divorced. It may not have been his fault that his children divorced. But if he really had a burning testimony, his covenants would have kept him from leaving the church. Perhaps this was his trial to test his faith. “Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son” (D&C 101:4). It seems Uncle lost his chastening and trying, for when he came to offer up his family on the altar, he fell away into forbidden paths and was lost.
I am surprised how many people seem to be outwardly doing what they are supposed to, but then don’t do the basics. Like the whole praying and scripture study. “They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble” (D&C 101:7).
Your friend recited off his accomplishments like they were credits to be raked in for the redemption when needed. That is not the way it works. It is what we become, not what we have done. The Lord tests us when we have nothing to rest on. The church exacerbated the problems, that shows he and her family were not viewing this with an eye to faith. Doesn’t matter which church for that matter. “Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (D&C 3:3). He seems a little frustrated in his work, who was he working for? If he was working for God, he obviously wasn’t in constant communication otherwise he would have known for what purpose, or that this was the Lord’s purpose. How narrow sighted to blame the loss of his own eternity on the church or his family. The Lord giveth and he taketh away. The promise is that we may have these things in eternity, I know nowhere the promise is that we have the promise to keep them while in this life. “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt 19:29). We have to be willing to give them all up at any time.
So, now that I have thoroughly torn the person apart, what does an outsider say? Well this seems the given of missionary work. What do we say to anyone anywhere? “And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:30-31). “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen” (D&C 15:6).
Why is it that we feel we have to convince people of the truth? Why do we feel we need to coax people into repentance? Isn’t that the Spirit’s job? Aren’t we to work by the patterns of the spirit? Just tell it like it is? He needs to repent and come back to the Savior. Back to the Lord’s supper table, the Sacrament. He needs to return and keep the covenants he made, or make them. He needs to believe the gospel and walk in its light. Who cares if his wife and family go to hell. That is their choice. We can only do so much. We can warn them and carry the spirit to them as well. That is between the Lord and them.
“Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump. Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom” (D&C 29:4-5). We are to raise our voice and declare it. How many missionaries ruined a convert by trying to convince them? Get the Spirit to manifest to them, then you have got something. Then the fun things happen. “If it be some other way it is not of God”
Anyhow, it seems obvious what it is we must do. Live and continue to be examples of the Savior. That is it. The issue is on his side. The church, the prophets, the scriptures, the word (Spirit, revelation, even Christ) have been neglected in these individual’s lives. “And all they who receive the oracles (this is more than just a person, it is the instruments, the wisdom, the whole apparatus of the church) of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house (and the family in the house)” (D&C 90:5).
Let our friends be our lesson. Let us learn from their example. Let us do what they have not done, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness, shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).
“Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering out of the hands of their enemies (which he has promised to some extent); softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him” (Hel 12:2-3).
Not so much that the difficulties don’t come and go, but more our recognition of their passing. Are we Teflon individuals spiritually, or do they increase and increase our drag until we fall to the earth from our lofty spheres of flying with angels? The rugged terrain is always there, just how we endure it.
So what must we all do? Live the gospel. Read daily. Pray morning, noon, and night. Attend our church meetings. Keep the Sabbath. Maintain and keep the Spirit.
The old cry comes up incessantly, “it is so hard to do!” Well, as long as we are that weak in faith, that is how long we will continue with the struggles and not have the mysteries continually lain before our eyes. It is our decision.
One last thought that just popped in. Uncle needs to be careful that he is doing his part with the Lord, and not just leaving the rest to family, friends, and ward members. Perhaps part of the problem is he left the Lord out too much in his dealings. “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; and enquired not of the Lord; therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (1 Chr 10:13-14).
We must be careful we do not do the same thing. We can discuss this all the day long, but we must make sure we are keeping the word of the Lord, and seeking our counsel first to the Lord. Then to our friends. This applies to us, and to Uncle.