Friday, July 18, 2008

Surviving Days of Darkness

I can't get off the subject of adversity. Every time I’ve turned around this past few weeks I’ve encountered someone who is suffering great trials. My heart aches for them and so during my personal scripture study and my get-ready-for-class scripture study I’ve been looking for teachings about adversity and how to cope with it.

In my Book of Mormon class right now we are discussing the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites. Mormon tells us that the horrible three days of darkness, death, and destruction that signal the Savior’s crucifixion began on the fourth day of the first month of the year (3rd Nephi 8:5). Most of the time we read through these date verses fast and don’t pay much attention to the fact that at the end of chapter ten, Mormon tells us that he is now going to tell us the marvelous things that happened at the end of the 34th year. Then he describes the appearance of the Savior.

What this means is that from the time of the three days of darkness to the appearance of the Savior almost a year has gone by. The people endure what had to be a tremendously traumatic experience. They lost loved ones. They lost homes. They suffered broken bones, lacerations, burns, and all kinds of physical afflictions. They lost livestock and many other material goods so that at the end of the three days, they were confronted with the formidable task of rebuilding their cities and homes and healing themselves and their loved ones. When we stop to think about it, we realize that these people had every reason in the world to be bitter, depressed, and to just give up. Our expectations would be that their society would be overwhelmed with people suffering post-traumatic syndrome, depression, neurosis, or at the least hopelessness and self-pity.

But that’s not what we find. Instead Mormon tells us that at the end of the year the people were gathered at the temple and “were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place” (3 Nephi 11:1). "Great and marvelous" indicates that they had been busy rebuilding not wallowing in self pity! But more importantly, they aren’t gathered to complain or have a pity party about all the hard work and all they have endured or to gloat in their success. Instead they are “conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death” (3 Nephi 11:2). This is the clue that helps us understand their attitudes and what has gone on during this year. They have endured well because they have centered their lives and thoughts on Jesus Christ. Despite all the adversity (or maybe because of all the adversity!) they have grown stronger in their faith.

This leads me to ask the questions, “Did the great blessing of having the Savior physically appear to them occur because of the faithful and positive way they dealt with their adversity?”

A friend once said to me, “I’ve come to the point where I get excited when I experience adversity because I know that after the trial the Lord has a great blessing waiting for me.” Sometimes those trials last a lot longer than we want, but the blessings will come and as with the Nephites often those blessings are far beyond anything we ever expected.



Knowles Family said...

Thank you!

Wendi said...

I've really appreciated these last three posts on adversity. I hope and pray that we'll all be able to deal with our times of trial like those faithful Nephites did in a Christ-centered way!