Mourning and Joy (Alma 62:1-2)

I’ve been thinking about opposition a lot lately. Sometimes, I think that in the “Mormon” world, we tend to think that opposition = evil. We think it is bad. I think that sometimes we forget that opposition is not always good or bad. For example, day and night – are opposites. Neither day nor night are inherently good or bad. We need them both.

I think that many of the emotions and experiences we have in life are similar. Often, it is just required of us to feel a range of emotions, and we can even feel them at the same time. Instead of wondering, “what is wrong?” when we feel a negative emotion, we might do well to simply accept it. Instead of worrying about how to always “fix” ourselves so that we feel joy.

I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon with an emphasis on joy. And I’ve learned that there is joy to be had in nearly every circumstance. This doesn’t mean that things are easy. This isn’t some kind of “happy-go-lucky” shallow joy. This is peace and comfort, even amidst trial and difficulty. It is the kind of joy that strengthens us and helps us rise to the challenge. It is the kind of joy that comes through discipline and strict tutelage.

In Alma 62, we read about Captain Moroni:

“”And now it came to pass that when Moroni had received this epistle his heart did take courage, and was filled with exceedingly great joy because of the faithfulness of Pahoran, that he was not also a traitor to the freedom and cause of his country.

But he did also mourn exceedingly because of the iniquity of those who had driven Pahoran from the judgment-seat, yea, in fine because of those who had rebelled against their country and also their God.” – Alma 62:1-2

Moroni feels both joy and mourning!

It sounds kind of oxymoronic, but this is the way that opposition works in our lives. Joy and mourning are often two sides of the same coin. When we have faith in the Lord, though, we feel an external force – comfort and hope of salvation. So, we don’t have to ever feel despair or hopelessness.

I guess I’m just trying to say that it is possible – to feel joy and to also mourn. Especially when we are considering those we love.

Well, not only that, but it is okay to mourn. Remember, it was Christ proclaimed that those who mourn will be comforted. As I think about this, I suppose a distinction should be made. Self-pity and mourning aren’t the same thing. Self-pity is an indulgence. It will not yield comfort and then hope.

I can see why Moroni mourns. There is so much war and sadness. All of this could have been avoided – every difficulty in the society could have been cured by righteousness! When we are righteous – individually, and as a society, then we will be happy!

Advertisements

Comfort will Come (Jacob 3:1-2)

The scriptures in Jacob 2 and 3 have always meant a lot to me. Unfortunately, actually. In Jacob 2, Jacob is preaching to the people. They had started committing whoredoms – plural marriage and concubines, though it had not been sanctioned by God.

The men and fathers were unfaithful to their wives. This was destroying families.

As I said, I can relate to this, I’ve experienced divorce in many ways. My parents were divorced. They both remarried (separate, new spouses), and then they both eventually went through divorces again. Divorce isn’t easy for children.

As an adult, I was married in the temple, but my ex-husband wasn’t faithful to his commitments. Being betrayed was difficult. My heart and my family was broken. I divorced him.

But there is hope.

Jacob teaches:”But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.

O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” – Jacob 3:1-2

After admonishing the unfaithful, Jacob then spoke to the pure in heart. He promised them that the Lord would console them, plead their cause, and send down justice.

I can testify that this is true. While I was going through these trials (of betrayal and divorce), life felt so hopelessly depressing. I didn’t know what would happen in my life, I only had these words (and other scriptures) that offered small rays of hope – of promise – for a brighter and happier future.

When we choose the Lord, the comfort will come. It isn’t easy. When I chose to be separated from my family, I was the primary chorister. I was teaching the children the music of the church. I was teaching them the song, “Families Can Be Together Forever” even though my supposed forever family was dying.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t comfortable. But I put my trust in the Lord.

And the comfort came. In fact, it wasn’t long before the comfort came. The Lord promised, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). I mourned the death of my marriage, I looked to the Lord, and I was comforted.

In time, I started having experiences that were hard, but they were confidence building. I got a job. I ran a marathon. Neither of these things were easy, but they were a great source of confidence and joy during an otherwise difficult time.

And, then, best of all, this challenge eventually came to an end. I was healed from much of the pain, I started dating, and then I met and married the love of my life. In the moment of pain, I couldn’t imagine comfort, joy, or healing. But it came.

I can testify to what Jacob says. If we are pure in heart, and if we stay committed to Him in our lives and in our covenants, then we will receive consolation. We will have peace. We will be able to feast on His love. Our pain will be healed, and we will have joy despite the challenges that we have experienced.

Comfort (2 Nephi 8:3)

Today, I read a really hopeful and comforting scripture.

“For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” – 2 Nephi 8:3

I’m reading the Book of Mormon with an emphasis on joy. And so often we are told that joy and happiness comes with keeping the commandments, covenanting with God, etc.

Yet, we still experience sadness, misery, and pain. No one, not even the righteous, are exempt from illness, injustices, betrayal, and other unfortunate experiences.

It can be tempting to get into “instant-gratification mode” and think that we should have comfortable easy lives if we are keeping the covenants we have made with God.

The truth is, Zion – those who are righteous covenant keepers – will go through difficulty and pain. However, the Lord will comfort her.

We will experience our own waste places, deserts, and rough patches in life.

And though the Lord may not transform these difficult experiences immediately, He will make them like Eden.

I like thinking about this very literally, too. I lived in Arizona. The Desert. Then I moved to Hawai’i. Paradise. What a stark difference!

If we remain faithful, the Lord promises to consecrate our afflictions. We will find joy. Thanksgiving. We will sing a song of praise.

And while we still must live through a vail of tears and difficulty, we can let this hope comfort us now. We can rejoice and give thanks now. We can live with a happy song in our hearts now – because we have the hope of Christ.