Monday, March 28, 2016

Lessons from Alma about coping with challenges

One of the blessings we have working for the church here in the Pacific Area Office is we get to start each work week with a devotional on Monday mornings.  Each department takes turns assigning someone to lead an opening song and another person to give a brief spiritual message, then we close with prayer.  Many of  the talks we have heard in these devotionals have been powerful indeed.   One recent devotional message that touched me was given by Chrissie Barrett.   I asked her for permission to share her message here and to be able to send it to some of my own family and friends who I thought might also benefit from it.   I really appreciate her letting me do so, as this message really taught me a lot!

Chrissie Barrett
Area MLU Analyst |The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Pacific Area|

What Alma teaches us about coping with challenges
See Chapter 8

When Alma preached in the land of Ammoniha, the scriptures tell us of his labouring much in the spirit, his wrestling with God in mighty prayer, his persecutions, and eventual expulsion from the city.   Samuel the Lamanite experienced similar persecutions as he attempted to preach to the Nephites within the land of Zarahemla.   How easy it would have been for them to give up.

Alma, upon entering the city of Ammoniha, had already fulfilled the command to go to his bretheren and teach the word.  He tried his hardest, but their hearts were hard and the people would not listen.   Defeated, Alma left the city and begun to journey thither. 

Picture Alma.  He has given them everything he had to hive.  His exhausted effort is apparent as he was weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulations and anguish of soul.   We might imagine this great man thinking of the ways he could have done better, the words he wished he could have said, how things could have been different if he would have known at the beginning what he now knew.

On the road as he was leaving the city, an angel appeared to him commanding him to return, a second chance he so willingly accepted.   His second attempt at this wicked city demonstrates a significant attribute, an attitude that should be mirrored in our own lives when we are asked to do something which is difficult.  In Alma 8:18 it tells us that Alma returned speedily to the land of Ammoniha and “entered the city by another way….”  He found a different way, a new way, perhaps even a better way to achieve his goal.   He sought after a more effective way, now with more preparation and experience under his belt.   Alma met his wingman, Amuleck, and subsequently preached of the greatest doctrine we have in the scriptures, with great example to us of the power of testimonies to change the hearts of those we serve.

When leaving the city of Zarahemla, Samuel the Lamanite was also commanded to go back.  He also found another way, a more effective way, to achieve his goal.  Samuel became resistant to death, neither arrow nor massive drop off a city wall could take this scriptural legend.   He was mentioned by the Saviour himself when He came to visit the Nephites, and will live on as a Book of Mormon hero and primary children’s favourite. 
Both of these great prophets of old sought a different way, an improved way, to achieve what they had been commanded to do after their initial efforts did not give them success.

The point I want to emphasize is when we feel like we have tried everything, only to see our best efforts fail, instead of giving up we can seek to enter in by another way, find a new approach.   Sometimes the old methods simply don’t cut it anymore.  We are entitled to inspiration from the Lord in our callings, in our work life and in our personal lives. 

When Elder Bednar came to New Zealand he spoke of the need to change.  He warned us not to get complacent or comfortable, but to have an intense hunger to improve.   When we think we have everything under control and all is going well, we will be faced with new challenges.  Nothing stays easy for long.   We are constantly being stretched and moulded into the person that Heavenly Father knows we are capable of becoming.   He will not ask us to do something that we are not capable of doing.  He will always provide a way. 

We can all think of the story of Alma returning to Ammoniha when we are asked to do something difficult or when we feel the approach we are taking is simply not working.   We can use this example when we need to go about the problem from a different angle or from a different perspective.   As we remain faithful and strive to have the attitude of Alma, we will have the Holy Ghost to inspire us with new ways and new ideas to accomplish what we have been asked to do.

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