I think oftentimes when we think of the Savior, we think of His ability to save us from our sins. We think only of His capacity to allow us to repent and return to live with our Father again. But He can do so much more than that. Because of His sacrifice for us, we can be supported as we face trials in life.
In the Book of Mormon, there was a prophet named Alma. As he was getting older in life, he took aside each one of his sons and gave them advice and counsel. In Alma 38, he is talking to his son Shiblon. As part of his discourse to Shiblon, he says (in verse 5): And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day." That is a pretty awesome promise, if you ask me. Most of the time when we encounter difficulties, we want to be delivered out of our trials. We just want them to be done. And sometimes, it works that way.
With that being said, two chapters earlier, when he is talking to his son Helaman, Alma says (in verse 3): "And now, O my son Helaman... I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." So sometimes, it is just not His will that we be delivered out of our trials. Sometimes, we just have to keep battling through and our faith will allow us to be supported in our trials. We will not be alone. But, we do have to do it, nevertheless. If we want to reach our full potential, there is no getting out of it. Luckily, He will support us every step of the way if we let Him.
And then, sometimes, there is a third option. Sometimes, we have to endure to a certain point before we can be delivered or see the blessings. For example, in Luke 5, Simon Peter and his associates have been fishing ALL night long, and they haven't caught anything. How frustrating that must have been for them. After all, this is how they made their living. This is how they fed their families. To work so hard all night long and see no results must have been so hard for them. But then in vs. 4, the Savior comes and says this, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." Simon Peter, exhausted and discouraged, says, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." I'm pretty sure that's how I'd react too. Why set myself up for more disappointment when it still doesn't work? But then he says, "...nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." And when he does, a miracle happens. Vs. 6-7 tell us that "they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink." Not only did they catch some fish, they caught so many fish that they filled two ships so full that they began to sink!!!
There are many lessons to be learned from this story. The one that strikes me today is that the Savior could have come earlier. He could have come hours and hours earlier than He did. In fact, He could have been home in bed and commanded, while still asleep, that those fish jump into the net. But He didn't. He chose to let Peter and his fellow fishermen wait it out a bit. And then, when the time was right, He came. He saved them.
There have been times in my life that I have wished that things could have happened differently, or that I wish the Lord could have just made it so that a hard thing had never happened. There are times when I have been frustrated or wished that things could have worked out sooner. But, oh, the blessings I would have missed out on. My life is so full of fish (figuratively speaking, of course), that I have no place to keep them all.
This Christmas season, may we all remember to let down the net. Even just one last time. May we have the faith that as we do so, the Savior will bless us beyond our capacity to receive.
Merry Christmas to you all!
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