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

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Healing the Sick (3 Nephi 17:7-10)

In the Book of Mormon, when Christ visits the people in the Americas, we read:

“Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.

And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.

And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.” – 3 Nephi 17:7-10

Christ heals the people. In my mind, this would result in unspeakable joy. Any person who is sick or otherwise afflicted grows weary of illness. I haven’t had to experience too much in life, but I’ve been sick.

While I was pregnant, and for a year or so after, I experienced chronic pelvic pain. I have had kidney stones. I have had severe eczema causing rashes all over my body. I have had the flu. I’ve had a cold. I’ve had the chicken pox. I’ve had endometriosis. I’ve had my tonsils removed.

And I’ve had it really, really easy.

But in those times of suffering, the idea of healing…well…that was joy. That was music to my ears. When I passed a kidney stone (after days of torturous pain and hospitalization), I jumped for joy! I called out to my husband! “Look! My kidney stone! I passed it.”

Sounds silly. But anyone who has experienced this kind of pain understands.

We have all suffered illness. Physical, mental, spiritual, emotional. We all need healing.

There are so many people in this world who suffer so much more than I do. And that’s what Christ heals us from: suffering in all forms.

What Joy.

When we turn to Christ, He will ease our suffering. He will teach us. He will strengthen us. And eventually, He will deliver us.

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.