November 19, 2009

The Gospel; A Mental Exertion


I have recently thought a lot about why we as children of God must go through often very difficult and trying mental challenges, such as depression and despair. Though I can’t say I have the exact answer, I can say I have learned one thing over the past few months as I have battled my own personal mental challenges. Much, if not all of the gospel is a mental exertion. Yes, faith without works is dead (meaning we must act), but you must first believe in your mind before you act. Hope is a mental exercise. Love is changing the way you think about others and allowing new feelings in to your heart and mind. So much of the gospel is learning to control and empower our minds. This is why going through the motions is so dangerous spiritually speaking. The power of faith is not in the action of our hands or feet but in the development of our minds and spirits.

Why must we face problems like depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair? I don’t know. Only God knows. But this I do know, God wants us to become like He is, including developing a mind like He has. That means we must go through very painful mental exercises that will help to develop our minds. Just as the athlete who desires to be the fastest in the race must go through great physical pains to come to that point, we too must go through like experiences in order to have the power that God has. If we are to have the faith that God has, we must be faced with challenges that seem far too daunting and then overcome them through the belief in Christ and the belief in ourselves that we can.

I have often asked myself if God has faith and hope. The answer is with no hesitation, yes! All one needs to do is read the Book of Revelation to see the faith and hope of the Lord. The book is set to be in the direst of situations. All hell is breaking lose, the very foundations of humanity are crumbling, sin fills the world, darkness covers the minds of men; yet God shows us His faith and hope by not only saying that good will prevail, but exactly how that will happen. He does not just teach us that He will win by a margin; He teaches us that He will annihilate the enemy and bring eternal harmony to the earth. If anything is hope, this is. In the Guide to the Scriptures it states that hope is “the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness.” (Hope) Is this not exactly what the Lord teaches us in the Book of Revelation? Is this not what we hope to have? Do we not hope to gain a confidence in the Lord and in ourselves so that we can do all things? If this is the case, then how can we gain the hope and faith that God has?

In the scriptures there are several passages that refer to God giving man weakness. For example in the Book of Mormon it states: “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27) However, note that it does not say that the Lord gives us weaknesses, but weakness; in other words it is not plural. What is this weakness that God gives us? It is not sin, nor despair, nor hopelessness, for God is not the author of these things. We can never blame God for wickedness and unhappiness.

However, I believe that the weakness God has given each of us relates to the condition of the world and the imperfections of mankind. Allow me to explain. God allows us to have agency that we may choose for ourselves. This agency leads to sin, death, despair, pain, and a multitude of other difficulties, or might I call it “weakness.” Thus, God has given us agency that the world may be weak, that mankind may be weak. Why? So that we can learn to have faith as He has. How would we ever learn to have faith if all went right in our life? How would we hope for a better place if we did not already live in that “better place”? For us to learn to believe, act, and be as God is, we must be put in a circumstance—a state of weakness—that will allow us to grow and develop, or in other words, “then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Why must we face these difficulties such as depression, anxiety, sadness and despair? Because it is through them we learn to rely on Christ to lift us and in time we learn to lift ourselves that we may have the faith and hope that God and Christ have. When we gain this faith and hope then we can write our own Book of Revelation in which all hell can break loose and yet we will not fear, we will not despair, we will become, we will believe!

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