Saturday, February 20, 2016

D&C 19:15-16 -- On Choosing Not to Suffer

"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;"
Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-16

Sometimes we get miffed about the whole repentance thing... the need for it, the fact that we can't just do whatever we want, the whole actions have consequences hang-up.  It's a drag.  And a lot of the time when we get negative about things, we are in rebellious mode, wondering why people have to put so many restrictions on us and they can't just let us be.  Sounds kind of like probably all of us in the early teenage years, right?  And in that context, I think that these verses are speaking directly to our rebellious sides.  Like good earthly parents do, our Heavenly Father has to sometimes restrict us in order to protect us.  And what is he protecting us from?  Suffering and pain.
God suffered all of these pains... every one of them in our lives, the cost of the consequences, the guilt, the burden of sin and darkness, the frustration and hopelessness of not knowing how to get back on track... and so much more.  Everything.  And so he knows the exact extent of what is hurting us, and why.  He's the one that knows how to help, because he actually *has* been in our shoes.  God isn't going to force us to accept his atonement and repent.  He values our ability to make free choice very highly.  But he offers it to us.  Repentance.  Sometimes made possible only by his taking on our burdens.
The scripture also talks about rods, and wrath, and anger.  I don't think those are too out of place with the parental analogy.  Anger and punishment aren't out of place in parent-child relationships, as long as it isn't abusive, and it about learning a lesson.  You can't let a little kid hurt another little kid and just let it go.  You have to get across the message that you are not okay with that, and impose a consequence, or they won't learn not to do it again.
Today let's remember how much suffering we can avoid for ourselves by making good choices.  Let's work towards the good consequences eternally rather than the bad ones.  And above all, let's be grateful for, and apply in our lives, the loving sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered for us and gave us the precious opportunity to repent and save ourselves from the kinds of consequences that can make God shudder.

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