Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thorns in the Flesh

While Moroni was abridging the Book of Ether, he marveled at the powerful words of the Brother of Jared. Moroni worried that those who read his book would mock him for his awkward writing style and his clumsiness in expressing things of great spiritual import. When he brought his concerns to the Lord, the Lord told him not to fear. "Fools mock," He said, "but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness" (Ether 12:26). He followed this promise with words that are consistently comforting to me. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 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. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness" (v. 27-28).

The Apostle Paul, miraculously converted on the road to Damascus, relayed a similar experience in pleading with the Lord regarding his own weakness. "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).

Moroni's words--and those of the prophets whose books he abridged--are great and powerful, and have been translated into over 100 languages. It was Moroni who penned the beautiful promise that has led millions to pray and ask God and thereby gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5). Paul, who complained about his weakness, wrote most of the New Testament--including great discourses on faith, grace, charity, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I have recently become more acutely aware of my weakness and inadequacy. But I take comfort in the Lord's words to His servants, "Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit; And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me" (Doc. & Cov. 35:13). The Lord has promised to uphold, defend, preserve, and even strengthen those who serve Him, no matter their weakness. He has promised that through humility, weak things can become strong; that through the Atonement, all things can be overcome. "And by giving heed and doing these things which ye have received, and which ye shall hereafter receive—and the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which are not ordained of him" (Doc. & Cov. 50:35). This He can do and He will do, if we will turn to Him. Our weak things will be made strong, and the thorns that pierce our flesh will draw us closer to our Savior who wore them as a crown.

"For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled" (Mormon 8:22).

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