Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Broken Heart ~ Part 2

Although Education Week was nearly two weeks ago I am still pondering the presentation by Michael on Adversity. If you missed the first in this series it can be found here. For those reading via subscription here is the actual link:

Adversity comes to each of us. It is not a question of if, but when! It is my belief that if we strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and prepare by adding oil into our lamps each day as the wise virgins did (in the parable of the 10 virgins) that we will be prepared to face that adversity in the best possible way. When adversity presents itself one of the greatest tools we have is faith, the quintessential opposite of fear. Fear of the outcome of adversity seems to be paramount if we are lacking in faith. "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." Doctrine and Covenants 38:30

Essentially how we increase our faith is through the daily drops of oil that we put into our lamps. Daily scripture study, repentance, prayer, attending church, serving others, etc. It follows that as we seek to follow Christ we become more like him, more like-minded, more dependent on our Father in Heaven, more desirous of righteous living and the like.

I think that what I have learned about adversity is that faith does not immediately fix our anxieties about adversity, but it lends itself to a process of overcoming it with time and the Lord's help. Faith is not a Pollyanna approach to the difficulties of life, but a work in progress guided by the principles of truth within the frame work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The scriptures are more than just the words of God to comfort us, they are also a place where we can see practical applications to the principles He teaches us.

We can also clearly see the consequences of various behaviors linked perfectly and repetitively to our choices. Our behaviors results in certain consequences over and over again. When we choose what we do, we lock in our consequences. The behaviors we can choose, the consequences, no. No wonder the counsel is to read daily. Our Father hopes that somewhere in one of those numerous examples we will get our own "Aha Moment!" No wonder we are counseled to ponder and not just read the scriptures.

Michael is a person who ponders, far better than I do. This is why I love to hear others speak on various subjects. Getting their perspective helps me to see more clearly for myself. I rely on the Holy Ghost to testify to me when I hear something that is true in their words. This is something we all should do rather than just taking something someone else shares, carte blanche. Truth always resonates in a way that you can know if it is true spiritually. So now some thoughts from Michael...

He teaches about what he calls the Principle of Sitting Under the Juniper Tree. He talked about how there is a certain amount of solace in knowing that even the great prophets of the Lord became discouraged when facing some adversity in their lives. He cited in particular, Elijah and Moses. Both of these prophets suffered so much that they actually wanted to be released as a prophet which also includes released from the trials of this mortal life. See the account of Elijah's trials in 1 Kings.

Here we see the depression, frustration and discouragement of one of the Old Testaments greatest prophets. He was so discouraged because the people would not heed his counsel to repent and live righteously. They were idol worshipers turned away from the one true God.

"He (Elijah) himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die and said, 'It is enough; now O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.' (1Kings 19:4) His fathers had not been successful in keeping the people constant in their worship of Jehovah, and now in his mind, he had failed also." S Michael Wilcox from his book, "What the Scriptures Teach Us About Adversity." Page:38.

Haven't we all been there? Camped disconsolately under the juniper tree just wondering if we can keep going and even sometimes hoping we don't have to? Elijah fell asleep and woke to a meal an angel had prepared for him. He ate and he drank and then laid back down. Michael says it is sometimes hard to leave the shade of our own self-made junipers, and even while we are there the Lord succors us and nourishes us. There should be no guilt in seeking the shade of the juniper but how long do we stay there? And how do we face the heat of the day again?

Another meal was prepared for Elijah and this time he arose and journeyed on to Mount Horeb. When his trials overtook him again he exchanged the juniper tree for a cave. 1 Kings 19:8. This time the Lord aroused him himself and said, ""What doest thou here, Elijah?" Should you still be here, Elijah? Is there not a better place to be than under a juniper or in a cave? The Lord than simply says two words, "Go, return." He essentially says do not give up on your life, return to it! It requires faith and hope to do this. Faith that the Lord will help you and hope that things will improve. He then gives Elijah a list of things to do. Michael points out that it was not perhaps so important what those things were, but that he took action.

He did something!

In other words, when we are in a funk, or worse, depressed and despairing, we need to get up and go do something positive; anything to move on. Haven't you noticed this to be true in your own life? Wallowing is OK for a bit, but then action is required to lift you back up! The more we linger in our own pity party the worse we feel. Thoughts proceed feelings. Focusing on something bad for a long time makes it all the worse, right?

He dealt with Moses in a similar way when he was faced with the murmuring of the Israelites regarding the repetitious manna they were tired of eating. For Moses it was the straw that broke the camel's back. he said, " I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me and if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight: let me see not my wretchedness." Numbers 11:11-15 As with Elijah, the Lord than gave Moses something to do. He called him to action.

Each of these great prophets were human, they had trials and adversity and they complained to the Lord about them. Even the greatest of men and women encounter things that bring them great despair and discouragement. We learn from this that God loves us, he has a good listening ear and he will succor us in our needs first and then he requires us to "Get Thee Up" and Go and Do.

We must begin to solve the problems, even if, as in each of the cases Michael discussed, we do not know how everything is going to turn out. Again quoting S. Michael Wilcox, "A spark of faith may be all that is necessary to "get thee up." Often times getting up and doing something for another is the answer. As we lift up the hands that hang down of another, we always move away from our own inner turmoil and despair.

I think this is great insight into how to begin to deal with adversity that descends upon us. There is more, much more to come in the next installment. For today this is enough for us to ponder.

The serenity and beauty of the
Oquirrh Mountain Temple Grounds


Deila said...

I love your thoughts on this, and will look at that book, I think it is available as a download too. It is kind of comforting to know that these great prophets had times of feeling down, so human.

Sister Susie said...

CONGRATULATIONS on your reward from Nellie!

Thank you for another wonderful lesson in life and its directions!
I shall save it to study further about the things of life that seem "out of place!"

Love to you and yours, Susan

Marie said...

Loved this Bonnie. Life is so much better when we don't wallow. I must move forward, even if I am only able to take tiny steps at first. Staying put is never the answer. Love you loads! xxoo