You know how it is when you re-read scriptures – there is always something new. As I have been studying the Doctrine and Covenants, I have found all sort of little things that, to me, are gems. This in one of them. (And it could save you countless hours in, and dollars on, therapy.)
As Joseph Smith waited for months to be freed from his horrible conditions in Liberty Jail, he received and wrote what have now become sections 121, 122 and 123. Everybody knows 121. (Top 5 list of chapters of scripture, IMHO) But what I have been thinking about for the past few weeks is the very last verse, of the very last letter, that he wrote to the saints from his dungeon at Liberty.
There it is. Let it sink in and improve your life and help you retain your sanity.
What? You would like me to delve deeper? If you insist…
First of all, no, I am not referring to the part about doing things cheerfully. Great advice. It would yield great blessings, and I wish I were better at it. The part I am referring to is this:
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God; and for his arm to be revealed.”
More specific? Here:
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all THINGS THAT LIE IN OUR POWER and then may we stand still, with utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God; and for his arm to be revealed.”
That is the big secret – to spend out time, effort, and emotion on things that we can impact – things we can fix, change, or do.
Remember, this was written by a prophet who was locked up in a jail, while the people he loved were outside being killed, raped, and hunted. And Joseph was absolutely powerless to do anything about it. Powerless.
How much of your collective stress is caused by things you can’t control? Me? I can’t even read the news without getting upset over something that is going on that I have no control over. People around me frequently exercise their God-given agency in ways that are harmful to me and my family – and I am powerless to do anything to prevent it.
Reinhold Niebuhr got it, (Link here) and his poem was scrunched down until it became known as the “Serenity Prayer.”
There are enough things in my life to worry about that I do have power to affect, that time and energy wasted worrying about the things that are out of my reach becomes self-sabatoging.
More specific? OK:
Know what that is? Faith. Utmost assurance is faith. We have to have faith that if we do all that is in our power, God will take care of the rest.
That is the kind of faith we reach for when we are sitting in hospital waiting rooms, or on our knees wondering what will become of a wayward child – as we wait for God’s “arm to be revealed.” Whether it be a work problem, a family crisis, or anything that causes us to feel powerless, we can choose to be still and wait on the Lord. That is a seemingly difficult choice to make, but it can be emotionally liberating.
The ultimate example of this concept is the very Atonement of Jesus Christ. We can do everything in our power, but ultimately, we are absolutely, completely, powerless to reach salvation. All we can do – and all we need to do – is what lies within our power, then stand still to see the salvation of God.
With utmost assurance.