Thursday, May 4, 2017

D&C 122:7 -- On Surviving the Jaws of Hell

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
Doctrine and Covenants 122:7

This verse is part of a revelation given to Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty Jail.  It's full of darkness and hope at the same time, and it reminds me of several verses that all say that "all things" shall work together for our good (Romans 8:28; D&C 90:24, 98:3, 100:15, 105:40).  D&C 98:3 says specifically "all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good."  I love the idea of everything that happens to us, even the bad stuff, working for our good... and I think that is totally true, and a fundamental part of life experience as designed by God.  It is all there to teach us and help us to reach our potential--to become closer to God, and more of the people that we want to be, and less of who we don't want to be.  However, of course, that isn't always an easy thing to remember when we are staring into "the very jaws of hell."

Actually, just the idea that Hell *has* jaws is kind of unnerving, right?  It's obviously symbolic, but it's still scary.  But maybe that's good, right?  *Life* is scary.  This conversation between God and Joseph Smith wasn't about the afterlife.  It was about things that Joseph was living through.  And I think we all go through things that we might call Hell: things that don't feel like they are helping us at all--things that feel like they are breaking us instead.  Those are not fun times.  And yet, even those things are for our good, and part of God's plan of happiness.

How can we possibly find happiness or retain a positive perspective if we can hear Hell creeping up behind us?  One thing that helps me is this scripture and others like it that remind us that there is meaning and purpose behind all of it... that God didn't just toss us here to handle things alone, but he, and "all things" are going to work with us and help us to make it through.  I really like that "all" ... I imagine the rocks and the trees and the air, all on my side, and it kind of helps. :)

Today, let's remember that "all these things" not only give us experience, but they are also working together (with God) for our good.  It's okay to be scared when the rancid breath of Hell is in our face, but let's trust in God, and know that we are going to come out okay in the end.  We just have to hang in there and keep working at it and turning pages and not give up, and eventually the hero will win... and we're all the heroes. :)  That's why everything works for our good, right? :)  Things get better.  God will make it okay... and we'll become stronger and better than we ever imagined was possible. :)

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