The Lord Shall Consecrate Thine Afflictions

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I came across a very interesting verse today in my scripture reading.  

2 Ne. 2:2 states, "Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain (emphasis added)."  

Frequently we will hear how the Lord will allow afflictions to come upon us or even "inflict upon us" whatever He seeth fit for us (see Mosiah 3:19).  And yes, this is true.  The Lord is very aware of the trials we need in order to become who He needs us to become.  However, this scripture puts a whole new depth to that principle for me.

He will consecrate our afflictions.  To consecrate is "to make holy or to dedicate to a higher purpose (dictionary.com)."  Think about that!  The Lord will dedicate our trials to a higher purpose!  Our struggles become holy through that consecration.  There is a joy that comes with that for me.  There seems to be a much deeper purpose for the trials we face than simply to gain experience. Through them, we are becoming holy...because there is a promise.  He does this "for thy gain."  

So the Lord recognizes (and sometimes places) these burdens upon us, makes them holy, and then blesses us for them!  Linking it to another verse about consecration, we see the same promise. 

"But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint;  that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul 
(2 Ne. 32:9, emphasis added)."

Our works, our trials, our responses to the trials, our joyful experiences...all of this, when we counsel with the Lord, are to consecrate our souls.  Trials, pains, sufferings, challenges, stress, pressure, persecution, and heartbreaks are all inevitable, but when we are dedicated to the Lord, we are becoming dedicated to a higher purpose, we are being made holy.  

For me, today, that is so beautiful to know! 

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No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.” 

- - Orson F. Whitney


On Prayer

Today for Mentoring Mothers we had a beautiful discussion on prayer.  The gal who was leading the discussion this month sent us some great talks to read and had the following questions needing to be answered:

If we want something, and keep praying for it, does that become vain repetition? 

What we came up with: 
Vain repetitions are those things we say over and over "without real intent."   We can pray for the health and well-being of our children if we really mean it and have a heartfelt desire for them to succeed.

It may also be vain if we don't actually expect to act upon the answer we receive.  The Lord expects us to be "agents unto ourselves."  Elder Scott said, "Most often what we have chosen to do is right."  We need to trust ourselves to make those decisions and be open to the Lord changing that path as needed along the way.  But still, we must act.

If we stop praying for something, is that then giving up on our faith? 

What we discussed: 
I posed the thought, "How do we know if what we're praying for isn't received because we don't have enough faith?"  One friend answered, "It's pretty arrogant of us to think that we can control things that easily."  That affected me strongly!  It's true, right?  If we think, "Oh, I just need a little more faith and then this will happen," may not be the right approach.

Yes, we do need to strengthen our faith.  Every day we need to rely on our Father in Heaven and have Him as the central focus in our lives, but to expect that a little more faith will give us what we want may not be quite accurate.  Sometimes we need the faith that things won't work out exactly as planned.

We must always be open to what the Lord needs to have happen in our lives so we can be molded and grow to be who He needs us to be.  Sometimes when it seems our prayers are not being answers, maybe we need to change our prayers.  Changing what we pray for is not giving up on our faith, it could be submitting more to His will.

What is the difference between telling the Lord vs. asking the Lord what you want? 

Our thoughts: 
"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good (Alma 37:37)."  Counseling, to me, involves telling the Lord your deepest desires sometimes, asking Him questions and for direction sometimes, and listening ALL the time.

Feeling it in our Minds and in our Hearts
Elder Scott said, "When we receive an impression in our heart, we can use our mind either to rationalize it away or to accomplish it.  Be careful what you do with an impression from the Lord."  How do we know if it's wrong or if we're just rationalizing then?  

Not all impressions we receive are going to feel good (take Nephi slaying Laban, for instance), but we will have peace, an assurance that what we are being asked to do is right.  The adversary is always there to meddle with our minds and with our hearts, we must attune ourselves more closely with the Lord's voice.  And this take practice.  Lots of practice.

Final Thought: 
"When we seek inspiraton to help make decisions, the Lord gives gentle promptings.  These require us to think, to exercise faith, to work, to struggle at times, and to act.  Seldom does the whole answer...come all at once.  More often, it comes a piece at a time, without the end in sight."
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