Saturday, December 29, 2012

Helaman 4:13 - Boasting in Strength

Dear Josten,

I know this is probably strange, reading a letter from your mom.  But I hope you enjoy how the verse I read might apply to you.  Today's verse is Helaman 4:13.

And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.
I read three verses before I came to this one, and this one seemed to be the one I should write a about for you today.  To set the stage, Mormon is talking here, about what's going on.  He's abridging the plates at this part, and narrating.  It's about 31-30 B.C., and Jesus has not yet come to visit the Americas, but the leaders of the people - specifically noted as Lehi, Nephi, (not the original Lehi and Nephi, but Helaman's sons) and Moronihah (Captain Moroni's son) are actively preaching and prophesying.  They are actively warning the people, giving messages directly from God.  This verse lets us know why this preaching and prophesying is going on.

One last thing - a few verses prior to this, we are told that the criticism given is to not only the Nephites, but more specifically to those who "professed to belong to the church of God."  (vs. 11)  That's us.  We profess to belong to the church of God, don't we?

Ok...  so...

Because of their great wickedness - this is the Nephites being referred to.  They were supposed to be righteous, but at this time, they were being directly called wicked.  I bet they thought that so far, they had been God's "chosen" people, so they probably thought that they would always be safe and clear from being condemned, or put down for their faults.

Part of their great wickedness included their boastings in their own strength.  What does boasting mean?  It means they bragged, and made it clear that they could do things on their own.  Sometimes we like to think we can do things all by ourselves.  We think that it's good to be self-sufficient, and our society usually thinks "pride" is a good thing.  We say, "Oh, I'm so proud of you for _______."  In actuality, being proud is never referred to as a good thing in the scriptures, and always is a negative quality.  So when the Nephites boasted in their own strength, it meant they didn't rely on God anymore.  They thought they could do it all by themselves.  This isn't to say we don't do the best we can, but it's always important to acknowledge God's hand in our success.  Without doing so, we are boasting in our own abilities.

Because of their wickedness and boasting in their own strength, they were left in their own strength.  I like to think of this in terms of group projects at school.  One person can say, "I'll do it all by myself," and they'll complete the group project on their own.  When they get a sucky grade, they realize that if they had asked the rest of the group for help, it would have likely been a better grade.  That's completely how it is with Heavenly Father.  Except that He does most of the work, and we like to think we're doing something much more than we are.

Therefore they did not prosper - this is a direct result of them trying to do the group project on their own.  They got an F.  I bet they wished after the fact that they had asked for a little help.

Due to all this, they were afflicted and smitten.  Do you wonder what that might mean?  How have you been afflicted and smitten in your life?  Do you remember how or what happened?  I remember sometimes feeling afflicted when I got sick for months on end with mono in college, and on my mission.  I knew I could be healed in a Priesthood blessing, but blessing after blessing, I waited for healing.  I wondered if I was doing something wrong, or if maybe God was punishing me for doing something wrong, whatever it might be.  No one would tell me that, but I still wondered.  Eventually I did get better, but it took time.  It wasn't like watching those guys on tv, hitting your head and telling you to "be healed" or "be saved".  I know some people have quick results with Priesthood blessings, but for me, time was always a factor.  Maybe Heavenly Father wanted me to learn something by being sick?  I think so.  Maybe it was a result of my body saying it needed more rest than my mind would give it.  Anyways...

And what does smitten mean?  I think it somewhat goes hand in hand with the next line, which is that they were driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.  I imagine being smitten means being beat up.  We're very fortunate and extremely blessed to have been born to live in a country where we don't have to live in fear of being smitten.  But this freedom is not necessarily guaranteed, and if the people in this land seek wickedness and to ignore the Lord – like what happened to the Nephites after they had been here in this promised land – we too might find ourselves smitten and driven before our "enemies", until we lose possession of almost all our lands.  It might be gradual, or it might be more direct, through war.  Thus far in our lives we have never experienced war, or fear which many in other countries have to worry about.  It is so important that we do everything we can to not forget God in our lives, daily, so that we may enjoy freedom.  

This is not to say that we won't ever experience being affliction or being smitten or driven from our homes or land.  Life is not guaranteed to be pain free.  But on the whole, and in general, I feel that no matter what, God can at least give us peace while we endure trials.  And I still have hope, that as a whole, the people of this land could achieve a state of Zion if they wanted to.  It happened in Enoch's time, and there is nothing in our time saying this is impossible.  

Love you babe.
~Mom <3  

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