Last night I was moved by a verse in the Book of Mormon, one of our sacred books of scripture. In 2 Nephi, chapter 11, we read that Nephi was anxious to learn from God what his father, Lehi, had seen in a vision about the tree of life. Then, as he pondered in his heart, Nephi was “taken away” by the Spirit of the Lord. A beautiful conversation followed between the two, but I want to focus on verses 16-17, where the Spirit asks:
“Knowest thou the condescension of God? And [Nephi] said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”
One of the reasons I cherish this verse is because it puts everything in the right perspective. In life we sometimes wonder why “bad” things happen, especially why bad things happen to good people. We search for an understanding. We search for reasons. And when we don’t find any, we get frustrated and perhaps even blame God. I personally believe everything happens for a reason, but that doesn’t mean I always understand what that reason is. In fact, by the time our lives are over there will most likely be many unanswered questions. What I have to ask myself is: Am I okay with that, the part about not understanding everything – especially the times of hurt and despair?
Getting back to the “right perspective”, Nephi gives the answer that comforts. Although he is not in this context thinking about the trails of life as such, his reply is the key to everything. He says that he (as well as we all) does not know the meaning of all things. So far we agree. But before that he rightly states as his first conviction: “I know that [God] loveth his children.” Do we all agree with that… or rather, truly believe that?
This is the crucial key to making it through life: knowing, in your heart, that God really loves you. Why is this so crucial? Simply this: if you know you are loved and cared for – especially by your Heavenly Father – you will be able to cope with any difficult situation ahead; you will know that hardships are not punishments, but means to shape your character. If God cannot test you, how can you truly show who you are. And if you can’t show it, how can you ever know it? Again, we may still not understand everything, but now we will at least make it through, because of the love of God.
To put it in more simple words: God’s love is what keeps us alive. And by that I mean truly alive. My point is that we haven’t really lived if we haven’t felt the love of God. There is a power in God’s love, unprecedented in kind, nothing to match it. It is the power that sets us free, free to enjoy life in its full. What I am talking about is being truly happy, experiencing lasting joy, being able to keep that positive nature through good times as well as the bad.
The ancient apostle Paul understood this. I esteem his words in Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Whenever I write in this forum, of course I can only speak for myself. I do so today as well. But I nevertheless feel the need to bring you my strongest witness about this. I have felt the love of God. I have planted it in my heart. This very moment it is consuming me, and there are no words to describe how that feels. The only way I can begin to convey that feeling is to say, in the spirit of Paul’s words, that nothing in this life can separate me from the love of God. The very thought of that happening is terrifying .
I try not to use the word “truth” flamboyantly, but here and now I say: the love of God will keep you truly alive. That is the truth.