Afflictions = Opportunities
By josh
10/20/2006 7:09:02 AM
2 Nephi 2:2 — Nevertheless, Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
In our addiction meeting last night some talked about being "pre-programmed" to certain behavior - and that the concept of of being "pre-programmed" can be either a good thing or a bad thing. It's gotten me thinking about the analogy of computer programming, but keep reading, it's not that technical. :-)

I'm somewhat of a computer programmer, so I deal a lot with if-then statements. It is always interesting to me how many if-then statements there are in the scriptures. I even reread my own patriarchal blessing with an "if-then" point of view, and it was quite enlightening. Of course, if-then statements are often accompanied with an "else." If-then-else statements can completely change the outcome of a given function or program. Entire sections of code may or may not execute based on the result of an if-then statement.

In it's most basic and often-used form, a scriptural if-then statement sounds something like 2 Ne 1:20: And he hath said that: Inasmuch as (or IF) ye shall keep my commandments (THEN) ye shall prosper in the land; - Then comes the "else" - but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments (or ELSE) ye shall be cut off from my presence. Another example (the IF actually comes after the THEN in this one) would be "(THEN) I the Lord am bound when (IF) ye do what I say, (ELSE, or ELSEIF) but when ye do not what I say ye have no promise." (D&C 82:10). This scripture, to me, points out that the if-then-else concept is the very definition of a covenant.

In this scripture (2 Ne 2:2) we have an implied if-then-else. Lehi tells Jacob that the Lord will consecrate his afflictions. What's the "if"? What brings about the Lord consecrating his afflictions - Lehi explains that Jacob has beheld the Lord's glory - the implication is that he has kept the commandments. What's the "then"? That's pretty much spelled out - consecration of affliction. What's the "else"? It can be inferred that our afflictions will not be consecrated.

Another concept of programming is looping - a certain section of code will continue to execute over and over again until a condition is met that causes it to quit looping and move on. Sometimes this is called a "Do-While" loop, or a for-next loop. If the programmer has made a mistake, the code can get stuck in a do-while loop, because the code inside the loop never causes the exit condition to be met.

We have our agency, but we do not have a choice on whether or not we will receive afflictions. That is part of life. It is not an "if", but a "when". What we have is the choice of what we we will DO WHILE we receive afflictions. Will our afflictions be consecrated or will they just be afflictions? It may very well be that we will receive afflictions, curse them, make excuses because of them, get discouraged by them, or generally be unhappy because of them. That's the "else" of not allowing the Lord to consecrate our afflictions by keeping his commandments nd putting our faith and trust in Him. Maybe we've gotten stuck in a do-while loop. Do {commit sin} while {not putting enough faith and trust in the power of the Lord to change our hearts}. Maybe we feel like we've exited that awful loop only to have some other line of code throw us back into it.

What exactly does it mean to have our afflictions consecrated, anyway? I think the answer is found in Ether 12:27, which is a wonderful if-then scripture. Our weaknesses can give us strength - our afflictions can humble us and lead us to the Lord. Afflictions are really just opportunities. They are a fork in the road of life. You cannot continue straight on in your current course - you must go to the right or the left. And that choice, as the poet Robert Frost said, "[will] make all the difference."


What is your focus...    
"I've mentioned before how Te has come home from work looking so worn out... It's been awhile since things have been that difficult for him, thankfully, but I remember sitting down with him once and asking about his day, he told me how beat he was and how hard it was. I asked if if he had acted out or looked at pornography and he said no.

As bad, or as worn out as he felt, when I pointed out that he "won" that day, he felt good. He had had a really bad day, but he made it, and learned that he was strong enough to keep fighting.

We can choose to be dragged down by the struggles, or we can focus on the blessings we get or the things they teach us. "
posted at 11:09:50 on October 20, 2006 by Anonymous
Oops, I forgot to log in.    
"That anonymous comment was mine. :)"
posted at 11:13:45 on October 20, 2006 by sophie
Techie talk    
"Very nice thoughts (especially to a fellow programmer). Next time my wife gets mad because I'm in some techie conversation she understands nothing about, I'll just tell her to come re-read your blog. :) I especially like the thoughts of getting stuck in the Do-While loop. I think trying to repent on my own and take care of my addiction for so many years on my own was very much being stuck in a Do-While loop. One other command is the EXIT command which can be stuck inside a Do-While loop to force the loop to exit if some other requirement is met before the Do-While can meet its own termination requirement and exit on its own. I look at the atonement as my EXIT command from my loop. After so many years of looping through the same old sin-feel-bad-try-to-change loop, I finally met the requirements that were necessary for me to finally be picked up by the Savior and exited from inside the loop."
posted at 13:05:30 on October 20, 2006 by derek

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"One of the false notions of our society is that we are victims of our appetites and passions. But the truth is that the body is controlled by the spirit which inhabits it."

— Terrance D. Olson

“Teaching Morality to Your Children,” Ensign, Mar. 1981