Faith, Joy, Iniquity, and Despair (Moroni 10:22 and 9:25)

I’m going a little bit out of order, but it works…

In Moroni 10, we read:

“And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.” – Moroni 10:22

This is kind of depressing. I mean, who likes thinking about despair. No one. BUT, we still need to think about it! How else can we protect ourselves against this if we don’t study it and understand how it can come into our lives???

Here, we learn that a lack of hope leads to despair. And despair comes because of iniquity.

I want to be careful as I write this. I know that there are other reasons people feel hopeless. I know that despair can come of depression and other chemical problems in the body. So, I don’t want to seem insensitive. I don’t think that despair only comes through iniquity.

However, iniquity will only ever result in despair. There is no other consequence of iniquity.

Additionally, I have experienced despair in my life. I have seen a therapist during a particularly dark time in my life. I learned to look at my own life with a sort of detachment – to look at the facts of the events in my life, rather than the emotion that was laced with those facts. And I learned how to change what I was doing (that was unhealthy), so that I could pull myself up out of despair and into hope.

I had despair, but mine was not a chemical issue. My doctor would have prescribed medication. Medications, however, are riddled with side-effects, and there is more than one way to “skin a cat.”

Since then, I have learned to apply the same techniques. This is where meditation comes in handy. And when I’m experiencing hopelessness or despair, often the Lord will teach me how I can change. I may not be out robbing banks, doing drugs, or prostituting myself – I’m not iniquitous, but there is a disconnect between me and the Spirit of God. And the connection is the same no matter how great or small the sin.

We learn in the chapter before:

“My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.” – Moroni 9:25

It is through Christ that we can be lifted up. Sometimes we are best able to access Christ and His atonement through therapeutic practices. When I saw my doctor, she explained that the practices and “homework” she was giving me – processing the experiences I had in my life that caused trauma and bad patterns – would help to liberate me so that the Atonement could have an effect in my life.

In other words – therapy was a blessing of the Atonement. Christ suffered and has given men and women the wisdom to help each other! Going to therapy was a gift of Christ’s suffering. The gifts of the Atonement don’t only come through abstract prayer sessions. (Of course, I believe prayer is important!) Sometimes the answers to these prayers come through other, more practical forms of work.

In any case – the result is the same. When we are able to access the power of the atonement (whether it is during our prayers, with the assistance of a therapist, or with the assistance of medications), once we can access that power, our souls are filled with hope of His glory. We begin to feel the promise of the joy of rest.

Anyway – there is so much more I could write about this. I can’t even begin to pretend that this blog post is the beginning and end of this subject. But I hope that it scratched a surface for you. If you are feeling despair, think of how you might be disconnected from God and Christ. Perhaps your despair is caused by your own sin. Perhaps this despair is caused by the sin of another. Maybe your despair is caused by the malfunction of a mortal body or brain. Any of these scenarios can be healed through the Atonement of Christ. Pray to the Lord in Christ’s name. Listen to the advice he gives you. Maybe you’ll be guided to read a scripture. Maybe you’ll find you need to repent and change. Maybe your’e answer will come as a prompting to get more professional help for scars and wounds that need more than a proverbial band-aid and antibiotic cream.

No matter what, I know that the Lord will help us.

I know this because I know that the Lord wants us to have joy. He promises us joy, peace, and rest. He wants us to experience all of His greatest blessings. Best of all, He doesn’t expect us to be able to have any of these blessings without His help

The Fruit of the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8:10, 12)

“And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:10-12

This is such a simple and quintessential scripture on joy in the Book of Mormon.

Lehi, the ancient prophet had a dream (you can read about it in 1 Nephi 8). In this dream he sees the tree of life – which is bearing fruit. Immediately he knows that this fruit is desirable.

The fruit is sweet. Sounds good.

And the fruit fills his soul with joy.

I think that it is easy to relate to Lehi. We are all seeking joy and happiness, right? Who doesn’t want to have joy in their lives?

Lehi is looking, then sees the tree of life. It takes some work, but he partakes, and he isn’t let down.

This dream is more than some silly night vision. It is a parable, a metaphor. As inhabitants of this earth, we yearn for a better world. We yearn for joy and happiness in our lives. And it is available to us. Heavenly Father has provided the fruit of eternal life for each of us and a way to partake of it. Through the Atonement of the Savior and through His words, we can also eat this fruit – sweeter and more desirable than any other fruit.

I mean, I just ate a pretty incredible mango. Imagine this fruit that God offers us. Yum.

Murmuring – Not for the Joyful (1 Nephi 2:12)

“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 Nephi 2:12

I like thinking about happiness and joy a lot. In fact, as I read the Book of Mormon this time through, I’m focusing on happiness and joy.

This verse is not directly about happiness nor is it about joy. But it can give you an insight on both.

Personally, when I think of “murmuring,” it doesn’t seem like a particularly joyful attribute. Think about the truly happy and joyful people you know. And then think of how often they complain.

If you’re like me, then you’re coming up short.

Following this logic then, we can deduce that Laman and Lemuel probably weren’t very happy people. They show this lack of joy through their murmuring attitude.

And why did they murmur?

Because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

Every once in a while a single verse packs a big punch. This verse is one of them. We learn a secret to life in this verse: if we want to murmur and complain less, then get to know God.

I know that this principle is true. Murmuring and the lack of joy that it indicates is really a signal of a much bigger problem: not knowing our Father in Heaven. Conversely, when we know God, we can go through temptations and trials without murmuring. This is because we know God, we trust Him, and we trust that in whatever we are experiencing, we will be blessed. We trust in the power of the Atonement – and that through the power of the Atonement all that is unjust in this world will be made right.