Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Art Thou Greater Than He?
I read D & C 122 today. It was good for me, for a lot of reasons. If you're unfamiliar with the passage it is worth taking time out to read before reading this. While a prsioner in the Liberty Jail, separated from his dear family, Joseph Smith cried out to the Lord many times. In March of 1839 God answered.
It may not have been the answer dear Joseph wanted. I've tried putting myself in his place. I would have wanted the Lord to say, "Don't worry, my precious Servant, I'm protecting you. You'll be back with your family soon, and all your enemies will know you are My servant." He didn't. Instead he listed all these conditional statements, and told Joseph Smith it is for his good. But, to Joseph, these weren't vague possibilities that he would have to determine in his heart to stay faithful regardless. These were his actual mortal experiences.
The Lord picked things that Joseph had lived. Look at verse six. "If thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of they wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you?"
Can you picture the torment in Joseph's heart? Not to mention his poor young son? Most of you have children. Picture one of your children at the tender age of six being torn from your bosom. Picture him fearing the "bad guys" taking his beloved parent away. Picture Joseph Smith wondering if he would ever see his dear wife and child again. Can you feel the anguish in his heart? I can, and it tears at my soul.
The Lord didn't end there though. After continuing on with other trials he says, "If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee....." Yes, father, what then? "know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." Wow. Probably not what he was hoping. In some ways it sounds a little like when I tell my children to eat their asparagus. How many times has a parent uttered the phrase, "Because it is good for you."?
What could make such severe heartbreak and trauma good for us? Only one thing. God is preparing us to lead in eternity. We are being prepared for forever. If God could casually allow such heartache and it be only so we learn to "submit" in this life, He would be a most cruel God. My heart and spirit tells me that that is not it though. I am not undermining the importance of not resisiting at the trials God brings to our path. Instead I am looking past it to why it could be "good" for us.
We are not to resist His path for us, no matter how painful. When a prophet of the church made it known that Paul the apostle would be delivered up to the gentiles on his next trip to Jerusalem, the people began to weep and implore him not to go. What was Paul's response? "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jersalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 21:13 Oh how I want to have Paul's resolve! Whatever you want for me, Lord, I am ready. My spirit says that, but my flesh resists. I have dreams and hopes. What if they aren't in God's plan? That is when I have to look past this life.
Just as the Lord told Joseph Smith it was for his good and giving him experience, He is saying the same to us. I do not believe it was meant only for earthly experience. How would death help Joseph Smith with that? It wouldn't. This life is all in preparation for the next. He didn't just tell Joseph Smith that it was good for him though. He also reminded him of the Savior. In the very next verse, he says, "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than He?" D & C 122:8 The answer, of course, is no. And neither am I.
Do you know what amazes me about the Savior though? Here I am thinking all about my eternity. Drawing hope in what my experiences will mean for me in the future. But, the Savior didn't go through mortality for His own eternity. He went through it for ours. He wasn't even considering what it would bring to Him. Remember what He said at the Heavenly Counsel? ""Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." Moses 4:2 I wonder how much longer it will take me to be like Him?