Thursday, October 23, 2014

D&C 19:15-20 -- On the Gift of Repentance

"Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit."Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-20

This is a very strong message to us from God, urging us to repent.  In some ways it sounds harsh.  The words "smite," "wrath," "anger," and "humble" used in this way all seem kind of scary... and yet there is a message of compassion here as well, and God explains his reason for the strong message.  He has suffered in our place.  He knows how hard it is to bear.  How impossible it is for us to even imagine it.  And he *wants* to scare us, so that we won't take the chance of thinking that we can suffer it ourselves or that we can tough it out and be okay.  I think it is a little like the drunk driving films they showed us in Driver's Ed.  They wanted us to see the potential consequences of our actions, and that this was a big deal, not something to be shrugged off.  God's message is similar.  The suffering that we've incurred through sinning isn't anything that we have experienced more than the tiniest amount, no matter how much we have suffered in our lives.  It is something that made even God tremble.  It is not something that we want to go through.
Thankfully, God gives us a way to avoid that level of suffering.  He has taken it on himself so that we would have room to repent and change.  And all he asks is that we do that.  Let's take the opportunity that he has paid so dearly for, and examine our lives.  Let's decide if sin is leading us to be the people that we want to be, and if not, then let's change.  Let's repent, and confess, and forsake, and become better than we have been--better than we are now.  Let's accept the greatest gift anyone has ever given us: the chance to repent and change, rather than suffer the consequences of our mistakes.

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