Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trials of our Faith

There are thousands of examples and stories in the scriptures of faith. Often God tests our faith to see how much we love him and how willing we are to show that we really believe he knows best. We know that we´re here on earth to be tested and lately I´ve been thinking about how often we´re given chances to pass those tests. There are different types of test but with every test we pass--no matter how small--our faith grows. I think the trials of our faith always test weather or not we´re obedient to the commandments of God but they can come from different circumstances. Often our faith is tested and we "pass" only with the help of others. This is usually the case when kids in the church are small and largely depend on their parents´ testimony as the motivation to keep the commandments. I doubt I would have gone to church very much as a kid if my parents wouldn´t have helped. Often with those who are just starting to investigate the church have similar circumstances. The missionaries need to constantly remind them to pray and read and often have to call to wake them up on Sunday morning. When our faith is just starting to bud it´ll start to bloom as we pass these "group tests"--because we have the help of others to pass. These are the easiest kinds of tests but they´re necessary to build the kind of faith we need to pass the other tests we´ll face. Naaman was a leper. He sought to be healed by a prophet of God (2 Kings 5:1-9). The prophet told him, "Go and awash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean." However, "Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:10-14). Naaman probably wouldn´t have passed the test if his servants wouldn´t have helped him. However, because of their help he passed, and his faith grew "now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel" (2 Kings 5:15). On another note, it´s interesting how the simplicity of the commandment became a trial of his faith in itself. He didn´t understand why the prophet would send him to a river instead of "call[ing] on the name of the Lord his God, and strik[ing] his hand" to cover the leper. And on top of that he didn´t understand why the prophet wouldn´t send him to a better river, "Are not Abana and Pharpar...better than all the waters of Israel". I think often we have similar doubts, often we don´t understand a commandment or even think the counsel of the Lord should be something different. Luckily Naaman had his friends to help him out, but maybe for us it won´t always be that way. "Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works" (Jacob 4:10). Often our faith is tested and we don´t have the help of others. Abraham had probably one of the hardest tests of his faith when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his only son. The story takes a new light if we consider the fact that Abraham was almost sacrificed as a kid by his father and by wicked priests who "had turned from their righteousness" (Abraham 1:5-7) and that the son he was about to sacrifice came after he and his wife thought they couldn´t have any more kids. Abraham nonetheless, obeyed and had raised his hand when an angel came and stopped him (Genesis 22:9-11). But, for his faith and for passing the test he recieved the promise that "I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:17-18). Often our faith is tested when not only we don´t have any help, but when those are around us are against us choosing the right. To me these are probably the hardest tests of our faith, but if we pass them our faith will grow and we will be blessed maybe even more than when we pass the other tests. Nephi experienced this opposition after partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. "And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not" (1 Nephi 8:33). I love that phrase so much. Do we love God more than we love fitting in? Unfortunately, people often fail these tests. In the story of the tree of life Nephi´s father notes that, "as many as heeded them, had fallen away" (1 Nephi 8:34). The wicked king Noah was about to release Abinadi "for he feared his word; for he feared that the judgments of God would come upon him. But the priests lifted up their voices..." and the king, in spite of his better judgment, "delivered him up that he might be slain" (Mosiah 17:11-12). I hope we´ll always be like Nephi and not give heed to those who oppose us, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16). With all the love of a passed test, Elder Lounsbury

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