Sunday, July 7, 2019

When Charity Causes Death

Have you ever felt that you fail at doing the right thing? Maybe you have tried to be a good spouse, but find yourself always falling short. Maybe you have a coworker who doesn't seem to like you, no matter what you do to mend fences. Maybe you have a child who has chosen to reject your beliefs, and you feel like you have failed them. Or maybe you find yourself battling a destructive habit, only to find yourself succumbing again and again.

This is a feeling with which I have become very well acquainted. The pang of failure has become an old friend at this point in my life. The Lord is working with me differently than He ever has before, to the point that I sometimes wonder if it really is Him.

Today, as I sat during sacrament thinking over these things and trying not to cry, I remembered something that happened to me when I was six years old.

I don't remember now what my question was, but when I asked my mother for an answer, rather than giving it, she told me to find it myself in the scriptures. I wasn't happy about it, but I still remember staring at myself in the mirrors striped with pink velvet on my wall after I randomly opened my Book of Mormon and found the answer I needed.

That was my earliest remembered experience with the Book of Mormon. It's a bit silly and shallow, but when I remembered it in sacrament meeting, I felt that I should read again, where I had left off several days ago in my personal reading. So I did.

This time, I caught a subtlety I had before missed. In Alma 35, the Zoramites have thrown out all people from their land who believe in God. These people sought refuge with the Ammonites, those Lamanites who had been converted by Ammon and his brethren earlier.

Not satisfied with ejecting the faithful from their homes, the Zoramites threaten the pacifist Ammonites with war if they help the outcasts. Rather than back down for their own safety, the Ammonites gave the refugees food, shelter, and land.

This enrages the Zoramites, who incite the Lamanites to anger, and start their war.

This is the cause of the entire own war with the Nephites, the initial war that lasts over ten years, and continues in spurts until the conflict opens the door for the founding of the Gadianton robbers and eventually destroys the entire Nephite government.

All because of a charitable act.

I don't yet understand everything I want to know about this, but I did realize one thing. Sometimes doing the right thing leads to destruction.

Pain does not invalidate righteousness. Misery can't rob joy when your joy is found in God. There are many ways to be happy, but only one that leads to joy that can't be destroyed. That is joy in the Savior and in knowledge of a loving Father.

Faith can only be found if you really want to find it. But once you have felt the touch of divinity, it leaves you with a burning desire to do the right thing, and the courage to do it, even if there are dire consequences. Even if it destroys a nation.

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