Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"To Hear My Soul's Complaint..."

There was a tweet, last week, that expressed annoyance and disgust that people (Christians) could complain when others in the world have nothing. While it is good to remember gratitude for our true multitude of blessings, I think this misses a critical point.

There is, I think, a misconception among Christians that we should be 'good little soldiers' who are unaffected by trial and adversity and are most certainly never so ungrateful as to feel burdened by and sorrow over afflictions! For surely, if we did, we would be showing a lack of faith in God's will and plan! I confess that I have feared at times that I must somehow be failing because I found things particularly difficult and somehow that meant it was my fault. It sounds a bit silly, but I know I'm not the only one who has found myself in this position. I would like to propose that feeling the reality of a burden does not constitute a defect on the part of the 'believer'.

In the final months before my ultimate break with home, I had a sometimes hour long commute home from work depending on traffic and construction. One day, rather than bother with the frustration, I pulled off early in Salt Lake and went to visit Temple Square. I had gone with youth groups but it had been some time and it seemed a nice idea to just wander and take in the information and atmosphere at my own speed. I was, after all, quite stressed, tired, and overwhelmed with a number of elements of my life. After some Sister Missionaries rescued me from a too-attentive gentleman, I began talking of feeling this very guilt that I was failing for feeling stretched beyond my abilities and anxious that I would falter and fall. One of the sisters opened her scriptures and read this verse to me:

 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. 
Helaman 5:12
After the basic questions of was I living right, reading scriptures, praying, etc... she pointed out that being built on the foundation of Christ does not mean that there is a magical force-field making it impossible for the devil to reach you. The verse clearly states that he'll throw everything he can at you. Feeling the force of the winds, the hail, the shafts in the whirlwind (which was brought forcefully home years later by an image of a telephone pole that had skewered a billboard in a tornado) does not mean you have failed in your foundation. It just means that you have to deal with the trials of life like everyone else. What it does mean, though, is that by being built on the foundation of Christ, we are promised that we have solid footing and will survive the devil's storm.

Furthermore, consider the hymn "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" (one of my favorites!). Pay close attention to the first two verses, particularly halfway through the second.


  1. 1. I know that my Redeemer lives.
    What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
    He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
    He lives, my ever-living Head.
    He lives to bless me with his love.
    He lives to plead for me above.
    He lives my hungry soul to feed.
    He lives to bless in time of need.
  2. 2. He lives to grant me rich supply.
    He lives to guide me with his eye.
    He lives to comfort me when faint.
    He lives to hear my soul's complaint.
    He lives to silence all my fears.
    He lives to wipe away my tears.
    He lives to calm my troubled heart.
    He lives all blessings to impart.
  3. 3. He lives, my kind, wise heav'nly Friend.
    He lives and loves me to the end.
    He lives, and while he lives, I'll sing.
    He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
    He lives and grants me daily breath.
    He lives, and I shall conquer death.
    He lives my mansion to prepare.
    He lives to bring me safely there.
  4. 4. He lives! All glory to his name!
    He lives, my Savior, still the same.
    Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
    "I know that my Redeemer lives!"
    He lives! All glory to his name!
    He lives, my Savior, still the same.
    Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
    "I know that my Redeemer lives!"
Being a Christian means striving to be like Jesus. Have we not all heard the acronym WWJD (what would Jesus do)? Indeed, in Alma's preaching of the Savior's gospel to the Nephites, he speaks of the characteristics which evidence a follower of Christ.
Mosiah 18: 8-10
 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; 
 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— 
 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
If it is Christ's nature to care about our burdens that he might help us, and if it is the responsibility of Christians to care for the same of others, then why would we think He would turn from us in scorn that our mortal frames might struggle with the various elements in life? I cannot think that the tweet which triggered this post can be reflective of the Savior's spirit. This life is a time of testing and a test, by definition, is going to gauge our limits. We are promised we won't be broken by God's plans, but that doesn't mean they won't be difficult, even painful. If something hurts, are we not supposed to go to the healer for help in treating it? To expect to push through and ignore the effects of reality, mortality, appears very close to living in denial. It is inaccurate, unproductive at the best, and allows great harm at the worst.

It seems this all boils down to a series of judgments. One - are we judging our own and others' situations fairly? Two - do we judge that there is a true Source of succor and aid available in Christ and His teachings? Three - do we judge that it is ok for us to turn to the succor the atonement (His sacrifice) provides and promises? In the end, are we letting go the need to judge ourselves and others in a way that cuts us off from the Savior's atonement? His mercy is not just to correct the mistakes of sin. His mercy is there to help us through this oftentimes confusing, bewildering life. When you think you have to handle it all on your own, please remember: "He lives to hear my soul's complaint."

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