I was reading today in Ether 6. This is the chapter when the Jaredites get in their barges and go to the promised land. I noticed some things that I hadn’t really paid too much attention to before. It starts in verse five.
And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind. (Ether 6:5)Furious wind. Check.
Then we have verse eight.
And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind. (Ether 6:8)The wind did never cease to blow. Okay.
Then verse eleven.
And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water. (Ether 6:11)344 days. That’s a lot of time to be on a boat.
This is when it started to hit me. That wasn’t just 344 days on a boat, that was 344 days of constant storm. (Wind causes storm and large waves on the water.) These people have been on boats before and they know that usually you have periods of calm and then you have periods of storm. This was constant storm. (Were they traveling in a hurricane the whole time? Could be.)
I wonder if they ever prayed that the storm would be calmed. It’s possible they might have. But if they did, those prayers weren’t given an answer of “yes,” because the Lord was using the wind to blow them in the right direction.
This makes me think that there might be times in life that are the equivalent of a furious wind blowing us toward our promised land and which causes a constant storm.
As difficult as these circumstances were, the Jaredites didn’t fear the wind or the waves though, because they were prepared ahead of time. They had barges that were tight like a dish. They had light in their barges. And they had those strategic holes that they could unstop at will to get air. They had food.
Still, 344 days of wind and storm?
What kind of attitude did they have about it? Verse seven says that when they were surrounded by water, they cried to the Lord. Verse nine says that they sang praises to the Lord, and thanked the Lord all day long and into the night. They worked very hard to have a good attitude and find things to be happy and thankful about.
“Oh look! We’re on the top of the water again! We can get air! Aren’t we blessed!”
“Oh look! We’re under the water again and no water is coming into our barges! Aren’t we blessed!”
“Oh look! We just hit a whale and the barges aren’t damaged! Aren’t we blessed!”
I remember one summer when I worked in my hometown for a mosquito control company. My job was to visit six light traps that ran during the night and collect all the bugs that had been sucked into those traps. I had to take them home, and count how many male mosquitoes and how many female mosquitoes had been caught in each of those traps. (Usually the bugs were dead by the time I came home with them, but sometimes… they weren’t.)
That particular summer was incredibly hot and humid, which provided perfect conditions for mosquitoes to flourish at a rapid pace. It was an incredibly buggy summer. I remember one week when all my traps had 1800 mosquitoes each, just about every day. It took nearly eight hours to count what was caught, sitting at the dining room table with all those insects spread out on a laminated sheet of white paper, picking through all those little bug bodies with large tweezers, breathing lightly so that my breath didn’t blow them away. I had a nifty mechanical counter that helped me keep track of how many males and females I had counted. It had fun buttons to push, and it made such a lovely clicky noise when I pushed them to count. But still, eight hours counting mosquitoes was a lot. I got really tired of sitting there for so long, but I refused to complain because I knew that Heavenly Father was blessing me with lots of work to do so that I could earn money for college. All those mosquitoes were a blessing from Heavenly Father for me.
Have you had any experiences like this in which a long period of difficulty has been pushing you closer to your goal?
Image: LDS Meetinghouse Library Pictures, http://sites.google.com/site/ldsmeetinghouselibrarypictures/