Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2 Nephi 4:34-35 -- On Trust and Faith and Prayer

"O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen."
2 Nephi 4:34-35

I think that the not trusting people idea is a hard one to understand.  At first, it seems to contradict other things in the scriptures.  I mean, we're supposed to love each other, be friends with people, reach out, and get married and have families, right?  How can you do those things, or build happy, functioning communities or societies without trust?  I don't think that God is talking about that kind of trust.  He's talking about *ultimate* trust... like the "I'd stake my life and/or soul on it" type of trust.

There is an interesting story in 2 Chronicles 32 where the king of Assyria comes down to take out Jerusalem.  The people were understandably freaking out, and so Hezekiah told them "With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles" (verse 8).  And it's back and forth for a while, with the king trying to convince the people not to listen to Hezekiah because none of the other nations had been saved from him... did they really think that their God was so special?  And when it got bad and everyone was freaking out again, Hezekiah (the king) and Isaiah (the prophet) prayed to the Lord, and he sent an angel to carve up the invading army a little.  God truly did fight their battles for them.  I think this story illustrates that this high-level trust that we're talking about is faith.

It takes a lot of trust and faith to put God first in our lives.  It doesn't always make sense to us that we can or should trust God to that level.  Our doubt and distrust has been honed by living in this society and interacting with fellow humans.  I've done more than my share of untrustworthy things in the past, and probably none of us have been completely worthy of trust throughout our lives... and when we think about that, the not trusting us part makes a lot of sense.  With that kind of track record, both for ourselves and for the people around us, it's hard to trust anyone, including God.

And yet, when we put ourselves out there, and we take that risk... when we believe God enough to act on it by having the faith to step into the unknown with only God as a backup, he always comes through.  Maybe missions teach it a little more than some other things, but faith in God is something that we can exercise and see every day.  It can be as simple as trusting God enough to pray or to read our scriptures or go to church, and as we do, we see God making our lives better through those things.  As we learn more and more, and trust more and more, we see it more clearly the way that God answers our prayers, and as mentioned in this selection, gives us the things that we ask for, if we ask not amiss.

Today, let's not blow faith off as something useless and unprovable.  Let's take God seriously, and let's take the risk and talk to him about it... let's pray and tell him what we need.  Let's tell him what we hope for, and how we think that we can help others.  If we do, God will answer us.  It might not be immediately, and it might not be an angel coming down with a package from Amazon Heaven, but he *will* answer in ways that will be clear to us in our lives.

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