Friday, March 15, 2013

Hurricanes and Gulfs of Misery in the Scriptures

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Have you ever noticed the hurricane imagery in the Book of Mormon?
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)
Clearly Helaman and his sons had experienced at least one hurricane in their lives for him to use such a description. 

I also think Helaman probably experienced a lot of human hurricanes.  He, having been a public figure (chief judge) during his life, probably found himself on the receiving end of all kinds of pressure (like mighty winds) from many different people wanting him to judge a certain way or protesting vehemently when he didn’t decide as they hoped.   I suppose a storm of public opposition and protest could be compared to a hurricane and it would be really tempting to give way unless you had a firm foundation you trusted in. 

I suppose this is useful to us today because it is likely that our church will find itself on the receiving end of storms of opposition.  It has happened several times in the past and it will likely again.  We must trust in the rock of our Redeemer as our foundation.

Another image that interests me in the above scripture is “the gulf of misery,” which we are promised will not be dragged down into if we build our foundation on Christ.  This makes the gulf of misery into something like an ocean raving with storm surge that will pull anything back into it that it can carry away.

The “gulf of misery” is used elsewhere in Helaman in a different way:
Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked— And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God… (Helaman 3:29-30)
Here I notice it says the man of Christ has to take a strait course across a gulf of misery toward God.   Here, the gulf of misery is spoken of as something we must all wade through on our journey back to God and the word of God can keep us from being overcome and engulfed by it.  Going through the gulf of misery is not a cheerful prospect if you’re used to a sunshine and rainbows theology, but in times of pain and hurt, this can really comfort.