Friday, November 9, 2012

Trials and Tribulation

Yesterday I went to Institute.  For those that do not know, Institute is a school of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is a place for those that are not a part of the Church to learn what 'Mormonism' is all about.  And it is a place for those that are a part of the Church to learn even more about 'Mormonism.'  While studying in the Book of Mormon yesterday someone pointed something out to me that I had not noticed before in this way.  We were reading in the book of Mosiah.

The Background Story:
There are two groups of people at this time, the Lamanites and Nephites.  The Nephites in the north and the Lamanites in the south.  A number of people of the Nephites decided to try and get back one of their cities, called Lehi-Nephi, in the south that the Lamanites had taken over many years previous.  They made a truce with the Lamanites and began to live in Lehi-Nephi.

A generation passed by.  The first king of this small group of Nephites had died and his son, Noah, became the king.  King Noah was against everything religious.  When some of the people in his city began teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ King Noah sent his army to kill them, but they took off into the wilderness.  Just after that time the Lamanites returned to Lehi-Nephi and defeated the armies of Noah.  They agreed to spare the lives of Noah's people if the people would give the Lamanites half of everything they had.

In time the Lamanites came across the religious group of Nephites that had fled into the wilderness.  They then began to rule over these Nephites.

And now to the point of it all:
Here are two groups of people that are now in bondage to the same people.  So let's now read the account as found in the Book of Mormon.  First one group, and then the other, and then we'll compare.

Group 1:
"And it came to pass that the people began to murmur with the king because of their affliction; and they began to be desirous to go against them to battle.  And they did afflict the king sorely with their complaints; therefore he granted unto them that they should do according to their desires.
"And they gathered themselves together again, and put on their armor, and went forth against the Lamanites to drive them out of their land.
"And it came to pass that the Lamanites did beat them, and drove them back, and slew many of them."

This account makes me think of the "fight or flight" theory.  They couldn't run because of the Lamanites surrounding their city, and so they fought back.  But in fighting back they lost many lives.  But their story continues.

"And it came to pass that their continual cries did stir up the remainder of the people of Limhi to anger against the Lamanites; and they went to battle, but they were driven back again, suffering much loss."

They decided they had to fight again.  They were desperate to get out of here and thought it must be done through war.  But they lost many lives again.  And now the story continues again.

"Yea, they went again even the third time, and suffered in the like manner; and those that were not slain returned again the the city of Nephi.
"And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies."

*This account was taken from the book of Mosiah chapter 21 verses 6-13.

Group 2:
"And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
"And Amulon [the wicked ruler over them] commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
"And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
"And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying:  Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage."

*This account was taken from the book of Mosiah chapter 24 verses 10-13.

Now the comparison:
Group one took the "fight or flight" state of mind, and because they couldn't run they attacked.  But the attacking did more harm than good for them.  The second group realized that there is a third option.  It is not simply "fight or flight," but "fight, flight, or pray."  The very same thing that happened to the first group happened to the second group.  But they prayed first and then went out and worked.

And now we must consider the outcomes, not just the way they went about things.  The first group lost many lives, possibly thousands, because their reaction was to fight against their oppressor.  The second group was saved from their situation by the hand of the Lord because they prayed for God's assistance and then did what the Lord told them to.

That is what this is all about.  These two great stories in the Book of Mormon show how to deal with rough situations.  We can fight back and face the damage that may happen to us, or we can pray for help and then do what the Lord tells us to do to get out of there.

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