"At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to 'ask of God,' concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture."
Joseph Smith—History 1:13
This is interesting to me, not only as a history of the prophet's thoughts... but in the application to each of us. Which of us are not in darkness and confusion about something important to us? Which of us does not need some wisdom from God? And, ultimately, we have the same choice. We can either remain in darkness and confusion, or we can ask God. We stop ourselves from doing this for a number of reasons... I think the primary one is that we don't really want the wisdom... like when you don't bother to ask your parents, because you know what the answer will be. :) Sometimes we really don't know, but we are scared, because we only want the answer to be one thing... and so instead of praying "please help me to know what is right and good in this case" we pray "please let me have this, please let me have this" in our hearts. That kind of prayer evokes a very different response than a prayer for wisdom. :) One thing that Joseph Smith had that we rarely have when we go before God is an open mind. He was willing to listen to God and accept any answer that God gave him. He wasn't going before him thinking that he knew the answer already... and sincerely, in the eternal scheme of things we *don't* know the answers. We completely underestimate our power to change, to become better. We give up too quickly. Remember the story of Nephi and the plates of Laban? What if Nephi and his brothers had tried once, and then given up? Or twice? Earthly reasoning was all for it... Laban was powerful, he had tried to kill them, he had a b'zillion soldiers out hunting them... I mean, come on. Cut the losses and return to the wilderness, right? Wrong. When everything seemed like it was going wrong, Nephi retained his faith that God would help him, and walked, vulnerable, into the city. Even this story of Joseph Smith that we are reading part of in this scripture... what if he had gone into the grove, and as soon as he started to feel all this negativity and darkness... he had stopped, and considered that his answer? The truth is, we all have to keep trying, even when we feel like we have exhausted all of our emotional and physical resources... because only then will we see God's hand... and only then will we find the reserves of strength and courage that God has granted to us all. God never allows us to be tempted more than we can bear, and he *always* provides a way for us to accomplish what he asks of us. He's asked us to go to church... so he provides a way for us to do that. He has asked us to be obedient in many other ways... and he provides us a way to do all of those things too. And he asks us to do certain things in our personal lives, and he provides us a way to do them. We can never say that anything is impossible that God has asked of us, because it isn't... it can't be. God offers us the strength, and the victory. It might take a while... we might fail again and again. But we can bear it, we've been promised that. We are stronger than we realize. But, we will ALWAYS always always prevail in the end. We just have to keep trying. It's our story, I've said this before... We can't just stop in chapter three. Maybe the hero is in chains in the dungeon, scheduled for hanging in the morning... so, do we stop there, and figure it was a pretty dumb story? No... we can't. We know that the hero will prevail... that's the way of stories. And that is also the way of our lives. If we keep turning the pages, even in the hero's blackest and most horrific hours... there will be an escape, a tremendous escape... and the hero will go on to do more heroic and amazing deeds... and will triumph over all, and live happily ever after... don't dismiss your story as a fable or a tragedy. It isn't. God doesn't write stories like that. If we keep reading... every time, the hero prevails. Don't get caught in the trap of thinking that you are in someone else's story, writing yourself in as the villain or the guard, or an extra with only two lines. You are the hero... and you will triumph, if you just keep living the story God has written. If we just keep trying, God will answer every question, solve every problem, heal every wound. There are hardships and setbacks in every story as well... makes it more interesting. :) Helps us learn more about the characters... but the hero always overcomes them, and prevails. Trust God, the author of all of it. And pray for wisdom about whatever your heart needs to know. He will grant you the answer... he always does. Just keep at it.