Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paul is Stoned, Trials Strengthen Us

Today I read Acts 14, which continues the story of Paul and Barnabas' first mission. During this part of their journey as they are preaching, Paul heals a man who is crippled. When he does so, the people of the city, particularly the Greeks, view them as gods and hail them as Jupiter and Mercury, or Zeus and Hermes if you prefer. Paul and Barnabas are very distraught about this and try to persuade them that they are men just as they are and that they ought to reserve their worship for the Lord God.

Apparently they are successful in convincing them that they are not gods because they next take Paul out of the city and stone him, leaving him for dead. It is not clear if they actually kill Paul or if they merely wounded him to the point of him passing out, but regardless of how severely he was wounded, he is healed by the power of the Priesthood as just a few hours later he leaves on his own two feet. This episode really brings to my mind the life of Joseph Smith and the scripture Hebrews 5:8. What I mean is, despite being on the Lord's errand, these men did not have an easy time of things.

Hebrews 5:8 states, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;". Even Jesus Christ was not able to avoid suffering, in fact He suffered more than any other person on this planet, more than any of us can even comprehend. And yet His mission was more important than any other person's in the entire history of all of God's creations. And He suffered the most. Paul here is stoned and that is just the tip of the iceberg of what happens to him during his life. Peter was imprisoned, beaten and finally crucified. Joseph Smith was imprisoned often, was tarred and feathered, had poison forced down his throat and more other atrocities than I care to go into here. Just because we are on the Lord's errand does not guarantee we will have an easy time of it.

All too often we hear people in the church stating that they were doing everything right and can't believe that this trial is happening to them, or rather I hear it often. I have covered this topic before, more than once but it bears repeating. Living a righteous life does not guarantee an easy one or a life free of trials. It also does not guarantee bad things will not happen to you. Trials are a part of life and for whatever reason, you can rest assured that Paul was stoned by those angry people for a purpose and he was a better man because of it. The age old adage that whatever does not kill us only makes us stronger is very true. Every trial we suffer and every hardship we go through serves to make us just a little more perfect. We will not have to suffer all that our Savior did if we will repent, but we will need to humble ourselves as He did and allow the Spirit to help us make the necessary changes in our lives to become more perfect.

Heavenly Father will not force us to do as He wills us to and will not ask us to do things that will not benefit us. If we will place our lives in His hands and allow Him to help us and really truly trust Him then we will become more like He is and if that is our desire, to return to live with Him and the Savior one day. But it is only ours if we want it and if we reach out for it. He will meet us halfway and will stand waiting with His arms outstretched for us, but we have to reach out and take His hands. But if we do reach out to Him, the rewards are limitless and beyond our comprehension. It is very worth it I believe. And really if you think about it, is this life/world really all that great that this is what you want to inherit? I know that I am meant for something better personally, you are too. Until tomorrow.

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