Why Would God “Inflict” Things on Us?

This is the second of three posts in response to a question I received last week.

Yesterday, I wrote that God’s love is most clearly demonstrated in the life and suffering of Jesus Christ, that the Savior feels genuine empathy for us, and that when we experience God’s love, we are filled with joy.

Today, I’m writing about a specific word used by an angel as he taught King Benjamin how we can be changed by Jesus Christ.

When Benjamin spoke to his people at the end of his life, he explained that he had seen an angel who had taught him about the life of the Savior. “The Lord Omnipotent” would come to earth, the angel explained, and would “dwell in a tabernacle of clay.” He would heal the sick, raise the dead, and work many other miracles. He would suffer more than any human being can suffer. He would do all of this on our behalf (Mosiah 3:5-10).

The angel went on to explain that we can become saints through the atonement of Christ, but only if we are “submissive, meek, humble, patient, [and] full of love.” In particular, we must be “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

Why would God “inflict” anything upon us, particularly when we are willing to submit our will to His?

  1. This life is a time of testing, and tests are inherently difficult. Lehi and Alma both referred to it as a time of “probation” (2 Nephi 2:21, Alma 12:24, Alma 42:4). When a group of people founded a city and began to live in peace and happiness, Mormon introduced the next chapter of their history with the following ominous pronouncement: “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith” (Mosiah 23:21). After they endured a period of captivity, Mormon says, “So great was their faith and their patience” that the Lord delivered them from bondage (Mosiah 24:16). They passed the test.
  2. God can make our suffering beneficial to us. Lehi lamented the difficulties his son Jacob had experienced—born in the wilderness, mistreated by his older brothers—but he testified that God would “consecrate [Jacob’s] afflictions for [his] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). Some important goals can only be achieved through suffering, and God understands how to lead us through our trials in a way that uplifts and ennobles us.
  3. Sometimes, painful experiences motivate us to change. The book of Proverbs provides the following advice: “Despise not the chastening of the Lord;… For whom the Lord loveth he corrected; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:11-12). After quoting this passage, the apostle Paul added, “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous.” Receiving correction isn’t fun at the time. But afterward, when we see positive changes in our lives, we are grateful for it (Hebrews 12:6, 11). And Samuel the Lamanite taught the same principle to the Nephites in the city of Zarahemla: “The people of Nephi hath [the Lord] loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them” (Helaman 15:3).

Today, I will see the trials and challenges I face as evidence of God’s love for me and of His commitment to me. I will be grateful for trials which give me a chance to prove myself. I will be grateful for difficult experiences which help me grow. And I will be grateful for God’s chastening, which prompts me to recognize and correct my mistakes.

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5 Responses to Why Would God “Inflict” Things on Us?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I find them uplifting and inspiring!

    Like

  2. Aaron Roome Gmail says:

    Great thoughts in here. Seems that life is like high school where the homework & tests He inflicts us are educative and, although painful, for our benefit…and the benefit we receive from them is directly correlated with the intentional effort we put into preparing for them. Thanks Paul

    >

    Like

  3. Pingback: What Are the Roles of Persuasion and Punishment in Motivating Good Behavior? | Book of Mormon Study Notes

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