And then God spoke to three people. First, to Satan, the beguiler serpent, He said. “Thou shalt be cursed above all, ... upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust thou shalt eat” (Moses 4:20). To Eve, He said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow . . . in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (Moses 4:22). Then to Adam, He pronounced, “Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat . . . and thistles shall it bring forth” (Moses 4:23-24). Then to all three, He declared, now leave this beautiful garden. And so, they did.
Adam and Eve then began to have children, and as a result, here we are today. It is called earth life. It is beautiful, but as inheritors of that event we also experience sorrows, and many thistles. It tends to make us grumble.
However, God, being our father, loves all of His children so much that He “gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
In fact, He has boldly announced, “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).3
Joseph Smith was often confronted with vexing earthly problems associated with his tenure as a prophet. A few of the things God spoke to him in some of those circumstances are instructive to us:
1. He told Joseph that even he, the prophet, was not immune, and cautioned him as he suffered in Liberty Jail. “If thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death be passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep . . . if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8; emphasis added). I suppose that admonition just may apply to some of us.
2. And then He told Joseph and his comrades to smile a bit through it all. He said, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17; emphasis added).
3. From Liberty Jail also comes a promise, and a caution. “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shall triumph over all thy foes” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8; emphasis added). And to cap it off, there came a slight rebuke. “Thou art not yet as Job” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:10; emphasis added). Perhaps we all could be a little better at dealing with our thistles.
Mortality presents us with decisions, and how we process life is often a matter of how we look at it
Ofttimes, we might find our will perched on the precipice of despair surrounded by thistles, having come to the edge of darkness. The consequences flowing from our next reaction can be life changing. We can choose to reach upward and continue to climb, or allow gravity to cajole us passively in the opposite direction. It all comes down to our resolve. Proceeding up requires planning and effort and courage, while the other direction is acquiescently submissive. Often tragic.
Go outside and gaze upward into the sky. Hold your head up and pull your shoulders back as you take a deep breath and turn your head into the wind. The air will rush into your upstretched nostrils and expand your lungs. The increased life-giving oxygen will heighten your senses as you survey Gods great universe. Then smile. It’s a start.
Then, begin to take small steps toward He who is the giver of the wind. As you do, you just might feel Him step toward you. Then, most importantly, smile up at a loving Father who will be smiling back with an understanding tear in His eye. Perhaps then, you will be blessed with wings to fly.
Hope, the mother of peace, is delivered by the hand of God
Hope will not shield us from a mortal experience, but will help mitigate the destructive effects of despair. It flourishes in the peaceful crucible of optimism. But it must be true hope, not a hope that is a little ragged around the edges. We find it best on bended knees. Then we might find serenity while confronting the things that make us weep.
In the corner of downcast hearts, she remains
Suppressed by the loneliness of oppressive grief.
She looks up anxiously, longing to float upward
Like the fog off a tranquil lake, if but given wings.
And then, as illuminating light from Heaven begins to
Bestrew warmth over downcast eyes, she is freed and
Bears aloft a longing soul gently upward on soaring
Wings into the welcoming arms a loving Father.
- Don Wright
I once saw a movie entitled “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It was about a boy in India who had purchased a dilapidated structure and was endeavoring to convert it into a nice hotel. As the deadline for opening neared, he was alarmed at the lack of progress and was becoming depressed.
A sympathetic friend said this to him, “Everything will be all right in the end. And if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end.” Another friend who was also involved commented, “Nothing has worked out quite as I had expected.” While yet another replied, “Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff” (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).
Always look for the good stuff. It may just be enough to prevent the grief of darkness from shuttering weary eyes.