After the Lord warned Alma that the armies of King Noah were preparing to attack his people, he led them into the wilderness for 8 days, and they began to establish a new city (Mosiah 23:1-5). They were unified and diligent, and Mormon tells us that they “began to prosper exceedingly in the land.” But hard times were on the horizon. Mormon introduces the next chapter of their history with this ominous statement: “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith” (Mosiah 23:19-21).
How did the Lord try their patience? By sending them a severe trial and not answering their prayers for deliverance immediately. They were conquered by their enemies and forced to do hard labor. They were forbidden to pray out loud, but they prayed in their hearts. Mormon tells us that the Lord “did know the thoughts of their hearts.” However, He did not immediately deliver them. Instead, He strengthened them so that they could “bear up their burdens with ease.” Under those trying circumstances, “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:9-15). Finally, when sufficient time had passed for them to fully demonstrate their faith and their patience, the Lord delivered them from bondage (Mosiah 24:16-20).
The Apostle Paul encouraged members of the church who had been faithful through many trials to keep going, to stay on the path they had started in spite of the continuing challenges: “Cast not away…your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:35-36).
When the prophet Alma compared the process of exercising our faith to growing a tree, he emphasized the importance of sustained effort over time:
If ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you (Alma 32:41-43).
Today, I will remember that patience is an essential component of faith. God’s blessings will come to me on His timetable, not on my own. I will follow the example of Alma’s people, maintaining my faith in God patiently over time.