Afflictions, Meaning, and Joy (Alma 31:38)

In chapter 31 of Alma, Alma gathers a team of missionaries to preach the gospel. Before they start, Alma blesses them to have the Spirit to do the work, then they proceed.

We read:

“And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.” – Alma 31:38

This verse teaches us something about the Lord and what happens when we exercise our faith.

Though several things are listed, I’d like to focus on one part:

The Lord will Give Meaning to our Afflictions

This is the part that really stands out to me in this verse: “that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.”

The Lord doesn’t promise us an affliction-free life. We will face affliction. This is a simple fact. Faith isn’t affliction-repellant, and the sooner we accept this truth, the sooner we can actually receive what the Lord does promise us.

The Lord promises us that any of the afflictions that we suffer will be swallowed up the joy of Christ. This is an interesting statement. Maybe it could still be misinterpreted – that Alma wouldn’t experience any affliction that brought him pain. Instead, these afflictions would magically be joyful because of the joy of Christ.

It’s important to consider what this statement really means. It may help us to shape our expectations and be willing to be faithful to the Lord even during times of affliction. (Remember, this is a blessing of faith, so if we aren’t faithful during our afflictions, then this result can’t be rewarded to us!)

This phrase shows that there is meaning in our afflictions. The Lord isn’t letting us experience random afflictions. In fact, He won’t let us faith an affliction that won’t have some kind of potential for joy. We may not feel the joy he promises during the affliction, but if we stay faithful, then eventually that affliction will be swallowed up in the joy of Christ.

What else in this world can give us this offer? No one, no amount of money, no amount of education – can promise to take our affliction and in return give us joy.

I have experienced this very miracle in my own life. During some of my deepest trials and afflictions, I did turn to the Lord. And because of my willingness and His mercy, I have been blessed. My greatest sorrows turned into the paths toward my greatest joys. I know that it is the Lord who made this miracle possible.

I know that the Lord wants us to be happy, and for this very reason He offered us His son – so that to us all, He could offer to take our afflictions so we could then have joy.


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