Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Doctrine and Covenants 101:2-5 -- On Sanctification

"I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.
Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.
For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:2-5

I think sometimes we forget, or don't realize, what life is about.  We think it might be about getting ahead, or finding someone to love, or getting lots of toys.  Maybe it is about finding personal happiness, or about raising a family.  Maybe it is just about being as rich as we can possibly get. :)  Often, we're looking around for whatever will get us the most points, but we don't understand what game we're playing.
Now, given, some of those things I mentioned above are, or can be, good.  And in a way, happiness *is* our goal.  2 Nephi 2:25 tells us " are, that they might have joy."  But becoming happy isn't just doing whatever makes us feel good in the moment.  It isn't a quest to "find ourselves" (except in the sense of Matthew 10:39).  And it can't be limited.  We can't love our families but feel like it is okay to cheat the rest of the world.  The way to happiness, and the purpose of life is kind of summed up in Alma 34:32: "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God."  Happiness and salvation come through God's plan for us, and as it says in these verses, sanctification is a process that involves chastening and trials.  ... Of course, this can still involve happiness along the way.  I am definitely not saying that we have to suffer our whole lives and then get an eternal reward of joy.  After all, we're restored to what we are.  As it says in Mormon 9:14, "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  Learning to be happy is important to future happiness.  But there *will* be trials.
Why trials?  Why can't we just be happy all the time?  Why did Abraham have to be tested anyway?  What is the point of injecting scary things or sad things into our lives, or asking us to do horrible things like Abraham was asked?  Excellent questions... and I think that these verses tells us at least part of why.  God wants us to be his, and his plan is to bring us back into his presence.  Thus, the preparing to meet God part.  We need to learn enough and grow enough and clean ourselves up enough, inside and out, that we are prepared as much as possible to literally "meet our maker."  And to learn and grow, we have to have change, and change doesn't often come without some sort of impetus.  We like to sit around and veg too much.  So, the impetus is usually trials.  And so something happens and we have to deal with it... and through dealing with it, depending on the way we deal with it, we hopefully improve and grow and change for the better.  And, as with Abraham, we all have to face trials that help us learn and see and change for the better.  What God asked Abraham seems impossibly hard.  Abraham was drawn to God in the first place to get away from human sacrifice.  His father had pretty much done the same thing to him, and he ran away and found a new way.  This was at the very foundation of who he was... human sacrifice is wrong.  And then God asked him to sacrifice his son.  Wow, what?  Say that again?  Why would you ever do that?  ... But remember, Abraham had been now following God for many many years.  He had learned to trust him.  He walked with the spirit.  He had seen many miracles.  He was a prophet.  He knew God was trustworthy and wouldn't ask him to do anything that was wrong.  And so this ultimate test was given.  And God proved trustworthy in the end and provided a ram to sacrifice.  But the test wasn't about God's trustworthiness.  That is a given.  ... It was about changing Abraham.  Showing Abraham who he was, and that he needed to believe in God and trust him down to the core of his soul.  Showing him that we have to be willing to put the Lord before everything else, and give everything that we have and are to him.
I doubt that any of us are going to be asked to sacrifice our children on an altar.  But we are asked to sacrifice them in other ways... sending them to serve missions, or losing them to sickness or accident.  We face trials in our own bodies like cancer or mental illness or feeling sexual attraction outside the boundaries the Lord has set.  We face conflicts with people all the time.  Road rage, pedestrian rage, tantrums, misunderstandings... they are par for the course.  We're going to face things that test us to the core.  Why?  Because that is what it takes to be sanctified... to be ready to meet God.  But what we don't have to do is suffer needlessly or hold on to things forever.  God doesn't do any of these things to us exclusively as a punishment.  It is all so that we can learn lessons that make us better people, or better able to face future events.  It's kind of like being in elementary school and having a hard time with math.  It's the most tortuous and pointless thing that we have encountered so far in our young lives.  We get angry, we say it is stupid.  We refuse to learn it.  And the only thing we accomplish is delaying the lesson.  We have to learn it anyway at some point.  We have to overcome that hurdle in order to progress to the next grade, and the next challenge, eventually college, etc.
Let's stop being angry with the Lord for our trials.  Let's start learning from them, building on them where possible, and working to be the best we can be, and the happiest we can be, WITH them.  *That's* what it takes to prepare to meet God.  That's what it takes to be sanctified.  Meeting every challenge and finding ways to be happy and courageous anyway.  Accepting the hard lessons, and being grateful for the resultant strength and love and compassion and knowledge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews