Being Grieved for the Iniquity of His People – Alma 35:15-16

15 Now Alma, being grieved for the iniquity of his people, yea for the wars, and the bloodsheds, and the contentions which were among them; and having been to declare the word, or sent to declare the word, among all the people in every city; and seeing that the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.
16 Therefore, he caused that his sons should be gathered together, that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately, concerning the things pertaining unto righteousness. And we have an account of his commandments, which he gave unto them according to his own record.

Alma’s ministry is marked by moments of compassionate sorrow just like the one described above. His sensitive perception of the pain caused by the sins of his people always seems to motivate him to action. Consider the following:

  • When Alma saw the poor, the needy, and the humble despised and persecuted by the proud and the wealthy, “he began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him” (Alma 4:20). Mormon tells us that Alma decided to give up the office of chief judge and dedicate himself fully to the calling of high priest, visiting the cities of the Nephites to preach repentance. 
  • Approximately ten years later, when he learned of the wickedness of the Zoramites, Alma’s “heart again began to sicken.” Mormon tells us that “it was the cause of great sorrow to Alma to know of iniquity among his people” (Alma 31:1-2). In response, believing that the word of God could be more impactful than any form of compulsion, Alma recruited and organized a group of missionaries to preach among the Zoramites.
  • Now, following his mission, in spite of the many poor among the Zoramites who had been converted, “his heart was exceedingly sorrowful” because of the many who did not respond to his message. He saw that they had hardened their hearts to the degree that the preaching of the word could not influence them, “and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word.” In response, he called his sons together to teach them each individually and to urge them to continue to preach the gospel.
Today, I will remember Alma’s example of love and hope. I will remember that part of “mourn[ing] with those that mourn” (Mosiah 18:9) is feeling sorrow when we see people making choices that will harm them and others. Like Alma, I will believe in the power of the word to change hearts. Even when others are unresponsive, I will continue to love them, to pray for them, and to teach them as circumstances allow.

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