4 And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God.
5 Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself;
Alma’s message to his son Helaman in this chapter is simple: God will always support you. No matter what challenges you might face, He will always be there for you and will help you overcome them, if you put your trust in Him.
As evidence for this statement, he reminds Helaman how God delivered the children of Israel from bondage and how He delivered their own ancestors—Lehi and his family—from the destruction of Jerusalem (Alma 36:2, 28-29). But Alma’s main piece of evidence is his own personal experience.
As a young man, he rebelled against the teachings of his father and tried to destroy the church by convincing people to abandon it. An angel made it clear to him that he was not only harming members of the church but destroying himself in the process. After that experience, his despair was overwhelming. Just like the children of Israel in Egypt, and just like Lehi’s family in Jerusalem, his future seemed hopeless. All he could think about was the pain he would feel when he returned to God to account for his actions. His greatest desire was simply to cease to exist (Alma 36:6-15).
Then, he remembered his father’s teachings about Jesus Christ. In desperation, he cried out to Jesus, and his pain was replaced by joy. His horror at the prospect of returning to God’s presence was replaced by a deep desire to go back. He was personally delivered from captivity by the grace of God (Alma 36:17-22).
And so, in the passage above, he emphasizes to his son that he knows God is there for us by personal experience. It is one thing to know because you have seen God’s hand in the lives of other people. It is another to have experienced God’s hand in your own life. As Alma indicates, that direct experience is the most powerful testimony of all.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor (“Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You,” General Conference, April 2016).
Today, I will remember that God is there for me. I will remember the ways He has blessed and rescued other people. I will also remember the ways He has blessed and rescued me personally. I will let that memory encourage me to keep following the path of discipleship, with the knowledge that He will help me overcome any trial I may experience.