“Yet Have Ye Not Returned Unto Me”

There’s an interesting refrain in Amos 4. Five times, the Lord describes calamities which the children of Israel have experienced, and five times, he repeats the same words of lamentation: “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:6-11). It’s an interesting pattern, and it says something about the Lord’s motivation in allowing us to pass through adversity.

There’s a similar pattern in the words of the Savior to the survivors of a set of natural disasters on the American continent. Five times, after describing the destruction of one or more cities, He explains the reason this happened, “that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them” (3 Nephi 9:3-11). In conclusion, He extends the following invitation:

O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

3 Nephi 9:13, italics added

Adversity can bring us closer to God, or it can push us farther from Him. The choice is ours. After the Nephites and the Lamanites participated in a brutal series of wars over a period of about 14 years, Mormon observed that “many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war.” But, he added, “many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility” (Alma 62:41). How do you know if you’ve been softened? One answer: because you turn to God.

Today, I will allow adversity to bring me closer to God. I will reach out to Him in prayer and ask for His help in overcoming the challenges I face. I will recognize that hardships can help me grow spiritually if I respond to them with humility and faith.

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