I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me
~ Philippians 4:13 ~
… neither has there been a time, at least in recent history, when you have been confronted with more challenging problems. I need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken. So many of the youth of the world, and likewise so many of their elders, listen only to the seductive voice of self-gratification.
~Gordon B. Hinckley: Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World – November 1995 ~
Take a moment and consider what drives you in your present life. What is it that you are facing? What challenges are present? What is your motivation going into the new year? We all have a drive. A passion where we desire some form of change. Yet, how committed are you to making such changes? No matter the obstacles we are facing in life – we have a choice set before us. We either go back and remain captive in those things that have kept us from progressing and moving forward. Or we face the challenge and go forward with faith and purpose – knowing our Heavenly Father will see to it we find our path through the sea.
Faith is the driving factor to us going forward into this new year with purpose and meaning. The Apostle Paul taught that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). And in Alma 32:21 we read that …faith is not to have perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen which are true.
The Israelites did not have a perfect knowledge. Yet they put their trust, hope, and life in the hands of God. Because of this, they were guided by Him, and went forward in faith. For us, we are being called to go forward in faith. To go forward with purpose. Despite what the world may say, may think, or may believe. We still go forward with faith and hope that our Heavenly Father strengthens and blesses us every step of the way.
What drives people today? What motivates them?
Shame and Guilt
There are those who are motivated out of sheer shame and guilt. Not regarding the healthy shame and guilt we experience. No, many are driven by deep rooted unhealthy shame and guilt. Sadly, some of them are members of a Christian faith-based community. This unhealthy shame and guilt where the focus of their thoughts is on those things of the past. It is the inability to come to a place of forgiving oneself. It is a place of the would have, should have, could have ways of thinking. Running from past hurts and regrets. Hiding from poor decisions. Punishing self for things already done. Blaming self for things that have occurred where there may have been no control on their part.
This unhealthy shame and guilt disconnect us from our Heavenly Father. It may also result in manipulating and deceiving ourselves into thinking we are not worthy and further pushes us into a place of rigid and frozen judgment and condemnation. In essence, individuals dealing with unresolved shame and guilt become prisoners of their own past. A perpetual victim of hurt, abuse, and mistreatment. Perpetual victim of poor decision making. Perpetual victim of hopelessness and unforgiveness.
When we go forward with faith and purpose – we are going forward with the hope and knowledge that they will see the salvation of the Lord in their hearts, minds, and souls. For them, their Egyptian army is the past, unresolved hurts. The sea before them is the process of healing and forgiveness they will find as they cross over to the other side and see the goodness and mercifulness of God.
Resentment, Bitterness, and Anger
Others hold onto past hurts, whether it is because of injustice, unfairness, mistreatment, or unresolved shame and guilt, and are embroiled with resentment, bitterness, and anger. For them, it is not a lack of self-forgiveness. It is a lack of forgiving others who may have caused an offense or harm. Their pain is a cross they willingly bear – long after the neglect, hurt, offense, or injustice had occurred.
All of us experience some form of resentment, bitterness, and anger. However, what has the Savior taught us? He taught that we are to leave our gift at the altar and go seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24). And for many of us – this may prove more difficult than anything else. Not so much because one may have difficulty letting go. More so that there is some sense of closure and justice needed due to the hurt and pain that is at the root of our resentment, bitterness, and anger.
Yet, one needs to weed out these resentments, bitterness, and anger that has consumed our hearts and minds for so long. It takes great effort, humility, honesty, and soul-searching to dig out and cast aside those weeds. All the more reason we go forward in faith and purpose. As we cross the sea on dry ground, those injustices will follow and eventually be drowned in the sea of God’s grace, healing, love, and mercy.
Probably the greatest threat to our sense of peace is fear. Fear of what others may think. Fear of rejection and abandonment. Fear of the unknown. Fear of our inability and inadequacy to move forward. However, the Apostle Paul writes that we are sufficient when our trust is in God because of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:2-6) Faith begets trust. Our trust is in Christ. And if our trust is in Christ, then we are placing our trust in our Heavenly Father. This is the assurance and confidence of our faith.
Yet we still have to deal with fear. Specifically, those of us who have experienced traumatic experiences in our past. The fear of such trauma is like a milestone around our necks. Drowning us in a sea of misery and woe. Our fears prevent our ability to go forward with courage and conviction. With confidence and assurance. Despite their fears – great men, the ancient patriarchs and matriarchs, and women faithfully walked in obedience despite their inherent fears (Hebrews 11). And were the Israelites in fear? Seeing the advancing armies of Pharaoh behind them? Seeing the great sea before them? Of course, they were afraid. And who would blame them for such fear.
Under these circumstances – they still went forward with faith and purpose knowing that the Lord will show unto them their salvation. Despite their fears, they trusted in God and hoped in that they will safely pass through the sea.
If we allow fear to consume us, we will drown in our own regrets of missed opportunities. We will not find any sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. We disallow ourselves to step out in faith and courage to do the things the Lord has called upon us to do.
Thus, for those of us dealing with fear – our call to go forward with meaning and purpose means we go forward with trust, assurance, confidence, and hope that our Heavenly Father will strengthen us and see us through safely.
Pride and Arrogance
Proverbs 16:18-19 is often quoted when it comes to dealing with pride. It is not the only passage of scripture warning us of pride and arrogance. When we encounter pride, it is always in the context of a haughty spirit (Proverbs 6:17). And it always leads to destruction. Ezra Taft Benson shared this observation:
The Doctrine and Covenants tells us that the Book of Mormon is the “record of a fallen people” (D&C 20:9). Why did they fall? This is one of the major messages of the Book of Mormon. Mormon gives the answer in the closing chapters of the book in these words: “Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction” (Moroni 8:27). And then, lest we miss that momentous Book of Mormon message from that fallen people, the Lord warns us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39).President Ezra Taft Benson President of the Church: In Conference Report, April 1989, 3; or Ensign, May 1989, 4–7
And at the core of this pride and arrogance?
The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.Ibid
Today, we see a society possessed with a spirit of pride. It is in contention and opposition to the things of God. It is at war with the values and principle truths of righteousness. For us – we are called to go forward with faith and purpose into a sea of pride and arrogance of our prevailing culture and society. We are to press on to see the full salvation of the Lord brought into view.
And it is not the pride of the world that we ought to concern ourselves with. It is the pride and arrogance that has seeped into the many faiths and churches that claim to follow Christ. We are even seeing ever-increasing evidence of men and women falling into a state of apostasy from the Church of Jesus Christ because of their own pride and arrogance.
Opposite of pride is humility. If we are to go forward with faith and purpose, we are to do so with humility. With a spirit of contrition. Seeking God’s will and overcoming our own desires and our own imaginations. As pride is enmity against God and righteousness, humility is at the core of all virtues of righteousness.
We are to offer unto God a sacrifice of humility:
And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost3 Nephi 9:20
With this, as we go forward in faith and with purpose, we do so with a broken heart and contrite spirit. With all humility and meekness. As we make our way through the path laid before us – our pride and arrogance will ultimately be swallowed up by the sea of righteousness and faith in Christ.
As we go forward into the new year – let us examine ourselves and put off those fears. Shed from ourselves any resentment, bitterness, anger. Put aside our pride and arrogance through humility and submission to God’s will. And free ourselves of all burdensome shame and guilt that we have carried with us. For they all will be consumed by the sea of God’s grace, love, and the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ.
Meditate and Ponder:
Are you struggling with any of these things? How are they keeping you from going forward with faith and purpose into the new year? What does the scriptures teach regarding humility, forgiveness, and finding faith and confidence in God?