Giving One’s Life For the Gospel

Reading: Alma 14

In the gospel we are taught to trust in the Lord and we will be provided for.  However, what the Lord has in mind for us and what we think we should receive are often very different. Sometimes we are asked to give up everything, including our lives, for God.

Today I read about the women and children burned in the fire by the people of Ammonihah because they would not deny the gospel.  It made me think more deeply about what it means to find peace in the gospel.  God had the power to stop the murders, but did not.  Alma explains:

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

God allowed this to continue for two reasons: First, the people who were burned would be rewarded with great blessings in the next life. Second, the people causing the murders could only be held accountable for murder if they actually committed the murder.  For example, you can’t punish someone for looking like they might break into your house – they have to actually commit the crime to receive the punishment. God was allowing the wicked people of Ammonihah to bring upon themselves their own condemnation.

This is still a hard thing to swallow – that God would allow good people to suffer.  Yet, good people suffer all the time in varying degrees.  In the scriptures we learn that in life we must “taste the bitter so that we may know the sweet” – that part of the purpose of life is to learn what pain and wickedness is like so that we can learn to value goodness and righteousness.  Part of that is also being ready to give up what we have for something greater, whether it is as small as giving up some of your own time to serve someone else, or whether it is as big as giving up your life as testimony of the gospel.

Today I am going to watch for times when I feel like God should bless me with something, whether it is more time, more cooperative children, or great insight, and instead thank the Lord for all that I am blessed with.

Do you know good people who have suffered bad things, yet remained with strong testimonies? How did they keep their faith?

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