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09 February 2017

Psalm 14: Peace in Trial

A study of Psalm 14, and its message of peace and hope, with supporting examples from the Book of Mormon.

My husband and I have observed that, the past while, maybe a year, maybe two, it seems like everybody is having a really hard time, all at once. Normally, when I look around at my friends, at any given time there a several going through something that is really hard. But lately, I feel like there is more hurt. More people crying out in pain, more people suffering stoically, more people limping along under great burdens, doing the best they can. I don't know why it is that suddenly everyone is hurting all at the same time. Maybe we just finally started seeing properly, though our friends we have discussed this with have noticed the same trend. I've seen some really beautiful examples as people try to lift each other, even when they are, themselves, hurting badly.

Some pain is simply a part of life: illness, injury, disability, death. Many times these things are just part of the mortal condition that is meant to test and try us. But sometimes, the pain comes from the actions of others' poor choices. Sometimes it's the result of ignorance or accident; sometimes it's callousness or cruelty.

This Psalm speaks that kind of pain.

Do all these evildoers know nothing? 
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrated the plans of the poor;
but the Lord is their refuge.
O, that salvation would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! 
-Psalm 14:4-7, NIV (see also KJV)

Pain, poverty, trial, loss, heartache... these things are part of the human condition. It was meant to be so. Experiencing these things builds in us the capacity to appreciate, to experience fully, their opposites: health, comfort, peace, togetherness, and joy. Taken in isolation, things look grim, but, as Lehi tells us, "all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things" -- including permitting the more unpleasant experiences that life offers. The Lord intends us to be happy, in spite of the trials.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, 
thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 
Then shall you call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, 
and I will hearken unto you. 
And ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: 
and I will turn away your captivity,
and I will gather you from all the nations,
and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord;
and I will bring you again into the place
whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

-Jeremiah 29:11-14

It's not the experiences that make a believer or an unbeliever; trials are common to us all: it is our choices, especially if we choose to learn to know our Savior that determines the outcome of our trials. Nephi left the same comforts of home that Laman and Lemuel did, and they all traveled through the same wilderness.The big difference between them was that Nephi knew the Lord, he took his questions to God, and as a result, he understood at least some of the reasons for the hardships. In short, he knew and trusted Christ.  He knew what the Psalmist knew, what the scriptures teach us to know: the Lord was his refuge, and He wants to be ours, too.

Christ bore the burden of our infirmities so that he would know how to succor us; He gives us the opportunity to develop the same compassion through the experience of our own pain, so that we can follow His example and learn to go about doing good.

Thanks to Him, wounded souls may be healed and broken hearts may be mended. There is no burden that He cannot ease or remove. He knows about our infirmities and sicknesses. I promise and testify to you that when all doors seem to be closed, when everything else seems to fail, He will not fail you. Christ will help and is the way out, whether the struggle is with an addiction, depression, or something else. He knows how to succor his people.
Marriages and families that are struggling for whatever reason—economic challenges, bad media influences, or family dynamics—will feel a calming influence from heaven. It is comforting to “feel and see” that He rose from the dead “with healing in his wings”...
-Walter F. Gonzales, Learning With Our Hearts

Psalm 14 gives us the recipe: we call upon the Lord, we make Him our refuge, and then He is present for us. Then He provides for us, strengthens us, and our afflictions are swallowed up in the joy of Christ.

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1 comment:

Anne Chovies said...

You've found something wonderful in this Psalm. I really like the passage from Jeremiah. They speak of Christ's message of peace in any difficultly.


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