Sunday, May 3, 2009

For those times when the world's wickedness pains your soul

Recently I was reading in the Book of Mormon. I read through Alma’s prayer for the proud, idolatrous, and exclusive Zoramites whom he was about to preach to, and I ran across these verses:
30 O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and infidelity shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul.
31 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people. (Alma 31:30-31)
I wondered how Alma already knew that he would suffer afflictions, and I remembered that this was the man who had preached to the hard-hearted people of Ammonihah, had been sentenced by a kangaroo court, forced to watch martyrdom of the believers in Ammonihah, and he had been imprisoned and mocked and abused for many days by the wicked leaders before he was set free by the power of God and by the destruction of the prison. For all he knew, the Zoramites might do the same things to him, yet he had to share the gospel with them. No wonder he prayed for strength to suffer with patience whatever afflictions might come upon him.

If we’ve suffered for our beliefs before, it is hard to put ourselves through it again. We can ask to be comforted in Christ. We can ask for strength and patience to bear afflictions that come from the bad choices of others.

I’ve seen at least one thing last week that was grievous to me and I’ve prayed like Alma for comfort in Christ. I think the comfort came from realizing that repentance and forgiveness is available to all because of Christ’s Atonement.

At the end of Alma’s prayer, he said:
34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. (Alma 31:34-35)
Even though Alma was distressed and saddened by the wickedness of the Zoramites, he recognized that their souls were precious, and he recognized his brotherhood with them, so he asked for the power and wisdom to reclaim them. I think that demonstrates that he had true charity and the pure love of Christ. I hope I can have that too.