Monday, May 25, 2015

Perfect Brightness of Hope

I was driving down the road this week, feeling a little overwhelmed with a particular situation, and I was conversing with my Heavenly Father about it.  I felt I had lost all power of influence with my friend who has some major stuff going on and I felt incapable of being helpful yet I feel responsible to be helpful.  I have invested a lot of time, energy and love into helping this person and so it's tough to watch them make mistakes that may have heavy consequences.

Then a scripture that I had memorized about twenty years ago came to mind:  2 Nephi 31:20.  The scripture says, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men...."

I have always applied this scripture to me -- that I need to be careful not to become discouraged, which is true. But, let me give you a little more of the before and after.

Nephi, an ancient Prophet who lived before the time of Christ, said, "... ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." (2 Nephi 31:19).  That is so true!  This journey has really required me to rely on my Savior and I'm confident that it is through Him I have been strengthened and made more capable than I really am.

Then Nephi teaches about pressing forward with a "perfect brightness of hope."  I've always applied this to me and my path to eternal life.  However, in that moment, I realized that I need to have hope in His power to save my friend, and not just kind of hope for it, but have a "perfect brightness of hope."  And, that hope needs to be powered by a love of God, AND a love for all men, including those who are making decisions that I feel frustrated by, don't agree with, can't relate to or just simply don't understand.

Nephi continues on to give some important direction as to how we can do this seemingly hard thing.  He says, "Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end..."

So, in the scriptures, if statements are typically things we should or should not do followed by a then statement of the consequences -- blessings when we follow commandments and consequences when we choose not to follow.  I have come to really know the power of this if statement -- "press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ..."

I have found that really studying and pondering scriptures helps me so much, not just in this situation but in all areas of my life.  (The endurance thing ... well, I'm still working on it.  I am confident I am better at sprinting through tough things than running the trial marathons.  But, I'm working on it.)

Then Nephi gives us the promise that will follow our steadfastness -- the then statement.  He says, "behold, thus saith the Father, ye shall have eternal life."  Isn't that what we all want?

Nephi gives one more thing to remember:  "And, now, behold my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God."

I can't save my friend, but He can.  And I can work to be "steadfast in Christ" and to maintain a "perfect brightness of hope."  I can work to show my love of God and to show love to all people.

I'm so thankful for being a merciful God who teaches me line upon line.  I'm so thankful for the counsel to memorize scriptures.  I'm thankful that when I needed to be taught the Holy Spirit was able to use this scripture that I had memorized about two decades ago to strengthen and encourage me.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"  (Philippians 4:13)