Isn’t the purpose of serving the Lord that He will deliver us from our trials and save us from heartache in this world? Hasn’t He promised to wipe away all tears and bring comfort to us?
One of the myths that Christians perpetuate or cause to be passed from generation to generation is that God will save us from all our heartache and sorrows here in mortality. It is true that the Lord has helped his people on many occasions escape from their captors, and their sufferings. Look at what was done for the children of Israel when Moses brought them out of bondage from Egypt. That is a prime example. What we forget to do is to look at what happened after that happened. Once the Lord had the people out of physical bondage he set about freeing them from spiritual bondage. When they fought him on it, misery became their lot. In fact, they were so disobedient that the Lord swore that, except for only a literal handful of faithful, not one living member of the house of Israel then alive would set foot in the promised land. He would not let them enter the promised land until every last one of the current generation was dead.
Please do not think the Lord was being overly harsh, because he was not. He gave them chance after chance, after chance to accept him and obey his commandments, but they kept physically and spiritually returning to their idols and false gods. He had no choice but to wait until he was able to raise up a more righteous generation before he could bless them with what he wanted to give them, their own land. This blessing would require great obedience and willingness to be led by Him, and the current generation were just not willing to receive that blessing. So he patiently led them through the wilderness for forty years until everyone who had come out of Egypt was dead, and a new, more obedient generation had been raised up to believe and keep his commandments.
An example from Psalms
In Psalms 66:8-12 David makes a couple of good points about how the Lord deals with his people. Here are the verses. I will comment on them after you read them.
8 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
9 Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
11 Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
Verse 8: David tells the people to bless God and to not be quiet about it either. This is something that should be done loudly and with conviction. Okay, I added the conviction part, but it does fit.
Verse 9: The Lord holds our souls. This is a great visual. God really does have possession of our souls. He does, as it were, have us in the palm of his hand. We are safe in his hands. Being there our feet will not slip, meaning we will not go astray or fall, because he keeps us steady.
Verse 10: If you have seen how metal is purified, like silver, you will understand this reference. In order to remove the impurities in the ore, it has to be melted down into a liquid so that the impurities come to the surface as they separate from the liquid silver. They are then skimmed off the top and discarded, leaving only purified silver behind. The Lord puts his people through this same process in order to spiritually purify them. They must undergo trials and hardships in order to “test their mettle” (metal). Mettle is a great word. You should look it up. 😀
Verses 11 and 12: The Lord deliberately tested Israel, causing them to suffer many things, but in the end, they were brought into a land of wealth and prosperity because of what they had become as a people. This was the blessing for having passed the tests and endured the trials well.
The second main point of this psalm is the attitude of the Lord toward the thoughts and intents of our heart. In verses 18-20 the psalmist expresses his gratitude to the Lord for answering his prayers. But it is important to note that he prefaces his expression of gratitude with the law that accompanies the Lord answering prayers.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
Verse 18: To have regard for someone is to have fondness, affection or loyalty for or towards them. That is why we tell someone who will be seeing someone we know, “Please give them my regards.” It is an expression of familiarity. If we still have regards for our sins, the Lord will not listen to our prayers. Why not? It is because we are not sincere about what we are asking. As long as we still love our iniquities, we cannot be sincere with the Lord.
Verse 19: The psalmist says that the Lord has heard him and has been attentive to his prayers. In other words, ‘Because I truly love the Lord and am obedient to His will, he is there for me when I need him.’
Verse 20: He blesses God for not only accepting his prayers, but granting him mercy as well.
The Lord deliberately tries and tests the obedience of his people. He does it because it purifies their souls and allows him to bless them with all the choicest blessings, blessings that can only be given to the truly pure of heart. As we dismiss our sins, and learn to delight only in the Lord, He will honor and delight in answering our prayers.
While it is true that by the time we reach the final judgment all our tears will be wiped away and our sorrows will be turned to joy, in the meantime we can count on a steady course of purification through trials here in mortality.
Now that you have heard my take on these verses, what have you learned from them? I would love to hear your comments below.
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