“…behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” (Jacob 3:1)
This is a great promise that we can all lean on when we are afflicted. If we come to God with a pure heart, he will guide us. Jacob speaks to the Nephites and explains that the Lamanite righteousness had exceeded that of their own righteousness; “…ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts of because of the example ye have set before them…” (Jacob 3:10) We never know who is watching us, and because of that we need to be an example to everyone around us, wether that is our own children, friends, family, co-workers etc.
Jacob finishes this chapter off, by making know the seriousness of fornication, lasciviousness and of all sins, in the eyes of God.
Paul explains that he, as an Apostle of the Lord does not act with craftiness or deceit. He explains that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is often blinded (veiled) from those who are perishing, from those who really need the Gospel.
Paul tells the Saints in Corinth that “…we preach not ourselves, but in Christ, Jesus the Lord…” (2 Corinthians 4:5) When we speak about the Gospel of Jesus Christ we need to remember that it is His Gospel, and we are only His servants. As Saints, we will be; “…troubled on every side, ye not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) Paul explains that even with all the trials we have on this earth, it is never more than we can handle. We may see them as being the end, or may see them as being too hard for us to bear, but the Lord will guide us! The Lord God will raise us up, just as He was raised from the dead.
We need to; “…look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) While we are on this earth, we will not understand everything in its entirety. Science discovers new things daily, which should not be discredited. God created science and gives us the tools, thoughts and abilities to design, build, invent and discover the things that make our lives easier. Evolution is real, Creationism can coincide with science! After all, God created science! Paul just reminds us that the things we don’t see are the eternal things. Often times we are required to walk by faith and not by sight.
Paul explains the importance of the Role of Jesus Christ;
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; … because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:1-11)
We learn that we should be glad that God gives us tribulations, because through these trials we are able to learn patience, gain experience and have our hearts filled with Christ’s love through the Holy Ghost. We learn that Christ died for everyone, including the sinners. Through HIS Atonement and Sacrifice we have the opportunity to return to live with our Heavenly Father. Grace is a free gift and Salvation is ours if we desire.
Paul explained that “…death reigned from Adam to Moses… after the similitude of Adam’s transgression…” (Romans 5:14). Essentially because Adam and Eve transgressed we were all doomed to a Spiritual death, where we could no longer return to God’s presence. However Jesus Christ made it possible, through His death on the cross and His pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane that we could escape this Spiritual death.
Paul reminds us that we have a choice; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) This means that YES Adam and Eve broke a commandment of God, but by them breaking the commandment we were given a Savior to take our sins away from us. Jesus Christ Atoned for our sins, and gave us the free gift of Grace, but we still must choose to accept it. The Book of Mormon helps us to understand this further; “Adam feel that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 2:25)
Jeremiah speaks about Judah and their calamity. He starts the chapter off by saying; “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.” (Lamentations 3:1) Jeremiah explains that God himself can sometimes lead us into darkness, but like any loving Father, the Lord may put us in situations for our own good. Jeremiah writes; “Remembering mine affliction and my misery… My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-21) Because Jeremiah had to go through hard times, he remembered them and that remembrance of his own affliction brought him a sense a security and hope.
We must remember when going through hard times that “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (Lamentations 3:21) God is always there for us, even if it appears that we are all alone and without help. Sometimes God just wants us to figure things out on our own and only steps in when we truly can no longer fend for ourselves. Patience is something that must be learned and sometimes God will test our patience, but for those who wait for him… have a promise:
“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” (Lamentations 3:25)
Everyone goes through trials in their lives, Jeremiah tells us that is it best for “…a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” (Lamentations 3:27) So “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.” (Lamentations 3:40-41) If you are young and going through hard times, rejoice! For it truly is better to go through those struggles in our youth, then it is at any other time in our lives. It helps to build us and make us stronger.
We need to realize that it may seem like our prayers go un-answered or that the Lord “…hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” (Lamentations 3:44) But we need to be persistent and patient, because “…though he [God] cause grief, yet will he have compassion… For he doth not afflict willingly…” (Lamentations 3:32-33) God does not enjoy having to see us un-happy or miserable, but he does it because He knows that is the only way to make us stronger and better people. For this world is like a giant classroom. If we pass the test, we can return to live with our Heavenly Father for eternity.
Chapter 4: The Estate of Zion
Jeremiah laments over the estate of Zion and the pitiful people that they have become. They have become desolation, because they have sinned and basked in iniquities. Jeremiah says that it is better to “…be slain with the sword… than they that be slain with hunger… hands of pitiful women have sodden [soaked/boiled] their own children: they were their meat in the destruction…” (Lamentations 4:9-10) How sick is that? The people had truly sunk to a new low and it is no wonder why this book is called the Lamentations of Jeremiah, he was disgusted.
Chapter 5: Sorrowful Zion
Jeremiah recites in prayer the sorrowful estate of Zion. The people have been humiliated, and dancing has turned to mourning. Jeremiah explains that “Our fathers have sinned, are not; and we have borne their iniquities.” (Lamentations 5:7) We must remember that we are accountable for our own actions and not the sins of our parents or anyone else for that matter.
This Psalm records well-intentioned, but faithless advice of David’s friends when he was a fugitive from King Saul. David lifts his eyes to the Lord to find faith in a time of testing. He knew the safest place to stand was with trust in God.
In the years before he took the throne of Israel, David lived the life of a fugitive. He was constantly hunted by King Saul, and lived in constant danger. In such a time, his friends advised him, “…Flee as a bird to your mountain…” (Psalms 11:1), I think that his friends meant well, but they were nevertheless wrong.
David responds to them and asks; “…how say ye… Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, [and] …make ready their arrow…” (Psalms 11:2)
David goes on to say that; “… the Lord’s throne in in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” (Psalms 11:4)
Now this doesn’t make much sense until we read the Inspired Version of the King James Version (as re-translated by Joseph Smith)
“…sitting upon God’s throne in heaven, his eyes shall pierce the wicked.” (Psalms 11:4, Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Bible)
David would not listen to the advice of his friends and flee, because if he put his trust in the Lord he would be ok.
Chapter 12: Flattering Lips and Tongues
To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.
“Sheminith- Is a musical term, a similar direction is found in the title of Psalms 6:1 and in 1 Chronicles 15:21. Although we don’t know for sure, it seems that Sheminith denotes a certain air known as the eighth, or a certain key in which the psalm was to be sung.”
“HELP, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth… they speak vanity… with flattering lips and with a double heart…the tongue that speakth proud things.” (Psalms 12:1-3)
David opens this Psalm with a plea of HELP from the Lord. David explains that the “godly” or “good” man cease to exist. However, David says that the “…words of the Lord are pure… O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalms 12:6-7)
David knew that the wicked existed, they had double hearts and double minds. They manifested good, but in reality worked in wickedness. Even though the wicked spoke with vanity and flattering lips, their words would not last forever. However, the words of the Lord are pure and shall endure forever.
Chapter 13: Rejoice in Salvation
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
“Who is the chief Musician? – Some believe that it is the Lord God Himself, others believe he was a leader of a choir or choirs in the time of David.”
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? …how long wilt thou hid thy face from me?” (Psalms 13:1)
David, like many others felt that God was abandoning him. How often has one of God’s children knelt down in tears, begging God to answer their prayers… only to feel like they are talking to themselves? It happens. Often times it happens for our own good, so that we can gain/learn something on our own. This is why we live, to learn and grow… so that when we die and return to our celestial home we can have the gained knowledge to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
David knew deep down that God was there and that he still trusted Him to answer; “…I have trusted thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” (Psalms 13:5). I strongly believe that David is talking about the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ we can be saved and have Eternal Salvation.
Chapter 14: The Fool Says: There is NO God!
To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” (Psalms 14:1)
David makes a very clear point, those who say that there is NO God, are FOOLS! He goes on to say that those same people, who say there is no God; “…are corrupt, [and] they have done abominable works…” (Psalm 14:1)
Essentially we learn that those who believe God does not exist have become corrupt and have done evil works. David then goes on to say that “The Lord looked down from heaven…to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” (Psalms 14:2)
The Lord said that all together His children had become corrupt, filthy and workers of iniquity with no knowledge. (see verses 3 & 4). The Lord sought to restore his gospel (like He does, every time the generation becomes filthy). When the day of Restoration comes; “…Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad” (Psalms 14:7)
Job answers his friends, yet again; “Even to day is my complaint bitter… and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:2-4). The wisdom and counsel of Eliphaz and others was of no relief to him, and just made his mental and spiritual agony worse. Job felt separated from God. He had found comfort and solace in God in previous times, but in this catastrophe he felt he could not find God.
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-9)
Job explains to his friends that he indeed did look for God, but felt that He could not be found anywhere! Job tried with all sincerity to find God, but felt that God remained hidden. Even so, Job knew that God was still watching him, even if he couldn’t see or feel his presence. Job understood that even without seeing God, he knew that God was there and that what he was doing was for his own good. Job knew that this was a trial, even though he hated it and was suffering greatly deep down Job knew that this had to be, so that he would come forth as “gold” or in other words come forth stronger and more refined.
“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined” (Job 23:11)
Even after being accused of sin and abandoning God, Job proudly and boldy tells his friends that he has indeed kept the ways of God and had been and is continuing to be righteous.
Chapter 24: The Wicked Often Go Unpunished
“Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?” (Job 24:1) This is a fairly difficult verse to understand, but we might look at it in a different way; “Since God knows and will judge everything, why are the godly kept in the dark about His ways?” This also adds more application to the question of why God allows the prosperity of the wicked.
Other translations of the Bible read; in the NIV “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? The New Living Translation says “Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?”
“Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them” (Job 24:12)
Why does God permit suffering? Job goes on to explain a little bit about WHY, but I want to share a little more insight into this question;
WHY does God PERMIT SUFFERING?
In the Book of Mormon we can find a story about a man named Jacob, Jacob was the first born of a man named Lehi. The story goes that Lehi (who was ancient prophet in Jerusalem) received divine inspiration to leave the city, before it was destroyed. Lehi and his family depart into the wilderness and while on their journey they encounter many hardships. Lehi explains to his first born son that “…God…shall consecrate thine affliction for thy gain” (2 Nephi 2:2), he goes on to explain a little about the plan of salvation (and the free gift of Salvation), agency and the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. But the most important part for us to understand take from this story is that there is opposition in all things.
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not… righteous could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad…” (2 Nephi 2:11)
Lehi knew that in order to have good, we must also have bad. Sometimes people wonder, why do commandments exist? I would respond that they exist for the very purpose that laws exist, for our protection. For if you “…shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness… if there be no righteousness there be no happiness… no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery… if these things are not, there is no God… if there is no God, we are not, either the earth…” (2 Nephi 2:13)
So, why does God permit suffering? I would argue that we live in a world of good and evil, for our own understanding. If we have never felt joy, we cannot understand it. However, if we feel pain and then feel joy we can truly understand what joy is, while at the same time learning what pain is. “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself…” (2 Nephi 2:16). God gave us agency, and part of that agency means that we can truly act for ourselves, which means people can do bad things to others. If God were to interfere, we would not have agency.
With this agency, we can choose to be free and to “…choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27)
But we know that God wants only the best for us, “Adam fell that men might be’ and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25)
We are meant to enjoy this life, learn from it and repent of our wrong doings, while still in the flesh.
Job continues to say that those who commit these atrocious acts of murder, robbery or who commit adultery and all other manner of wickedness will see the morning and to “…them even as the shadow of death…” (Job24:17). Those who are wicked may be prosperous in this life, but in the end, when the morning comes, the judgment will befall them.
At times, we may fall on our knees in despair, and even usher up a prayer… “Heavenly Father, I hope you know, I am having a hard time”. Have you ever felt this way? I know I have, maybe you feel that God has abandoned you, or that He is nowhere to be found. The truth of it all? God is there. He is always there. Sometimes we are left to suffer, that we might know the joy, and we can feel the everlasting glory of his light.