The sons of King Mosiah began their mission with two powerful assets: desire and assurance. They wanted more than anything to share the gospel with the Lamanites, whom they considered to be their brothers, not their enemies (Mosiah 28:1-3, Alma 17:9). God had promised their father that they would be protected and successful (Mosiah 28:7). And He had told them that if they would be patient in suffering, He would make them an instrument in His hands in bringing many people to salvation (Alma 17:11).
After acknowledging these reasons for hope, Mormon shares with us the other side of the story: This mission was always going to be hazardous and difficult. When the Lord counseled these missionaries to be “patient in long-suffering and afflictions,” He wasn’t simply sharing a useful gospel principle; He was describing the reality which they were about to experience (Alma 17:11).
As these missionaries separated from one another, they felt some trepidation. “They supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken,” Mormon tells us. Then he adds, “And assuredly it was great” (Alma 17:13-14). Very shortly, Ammon would be bound and carried before King Lamoni, unsure whether he would be executed (Alma 17:20). His brother Aaron would be shouted down, mocked, imprisoned, and abused (Alma 21:10-15).
During their fourteen-year mission, as they endured these hardships, did they ever become depressed? Yes, they did. Did they ever want to give up and go home? Yes, they did (Alma 26:27).
What kept them going? That promise:
Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.Alma 26:27 (See also Alma 17:11.)
Elder Jack N. Gerard recently pointed out how our experiences can mirror this mission of the sons of Mosiah. Many years ago, when he and his wife were young students, starting a family, and serving in the church, they were stretched to the limit and exhausted. During that time, they received an anonymous letter from someone who apparently knew them well, criticizing their decisions and advising them that their priorities were all wrong. He said that this letter contributed to the anxiety they were already feeling:
While in the crucible of the moment, our path was not always clear. We were not certain that our efforts would pay off. We wondered aloud if it was all worth it. Every day seemed to be an act of faith as we tried to stay true to our commitment while wading through the murky waters of life. Now that the experience is over, we reflect on those days fondly and can see the hand of the Lord guiding us every step of the way….
Our willingness to trust in the Lord and to heed His counsel, even when we did not see clearly, resulted in blessings beyond anything we could suppose.“Could We Have Supposed?,” BYU Devotional Address, 17 March 2020
Today, I will remember the hopeful persistence of the sons of Mosiah. As I pursue challenging goals, I will remember that it is hard to maintain our perspective in the middle of a challenging task. I will choose to trust the promises of God and my own judgment in deciding to pursue the goal in the first place. I will stay the course and keep going until I reach the finish line.