The chapters in the Book of Mormon up til about chapter 11 are not very happy.
And yet Mormon, always the optimist, finds a way to put a positive spin on things.
In 3 Nephi 5:13, "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
Even in the midst of one of the worst rials the Nephites ever face, persecutions, murders, marauding bands of thieves... Mormon still devotes part of his writing and record to those who are choosing to follow the Savior.
I loved studying Hebrews 11 in Come Follow Me this week.
One of my favorite quotes was what it says in Hebrews 5:9, "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"
I was initially confused by this verse. Other parts of the scriptures talk about Christ being the author of our faith... but how can someone else be the author of your story?
That's only possible if the author is a biographer. If Christ is the author of our faith and our salvation, he's the one writing our story... but we're the ones living our story. The biographer can only write what his subjects give him.
We have to provide Christ with our obedience, our willingness, and our belief in him inspiring us to action, and then He's the one that makes our faith count by writing it down.
Some of the most well-worn pages of my mission Book of Mormon are the pages in the 36th chapter of Alma. Alma's recollection of his personal repentance story is one of the most poetic and beautiful descriptions of what it feels like to be free of sin.
Alma's account is so raw, and so honest. He doesn't hide anything from his son about the man he used to be, but he also doesn't hold back when he's speaking of how Jesus saved him.
I loved sharing this chapter with people I taught, and explaining how they would feel just as light and happy when they repented too. God loves us, and so he sent His son. He wants all of us to live unburdened.
20 "And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain."
"That they might witness what the Lord had done for his son" (Mosiah 27:21) is a powerful expression of faith, whether it was said by Alma or written by Mormon. Notice, he doesn't say "what the Lord had done to his son."
I can imagine Alma the elder pleading before God every night that something would change in his son's life. I can picture him praying on his knees that Alma the younger would embrace the gospel again and stop causing so much pain to their family.
Once when I was going through a really rough time on my mission, my dad wrote to me saying he was sorry for how bad I felt, and how much he wished he could take away the hurt. But then my dad expressed how grateful he was that I was experiencing such a faith-growing experience. Like Alma, he was grateful for what the Lord had done for his son rather than being angry about what the Lord had done to his son.
Recognizing trials as growth experiences is a sign of spiritual maturity and one-ness with the will of God.