Since my last posting I have been battling ill health and pain. I have not felt much like writing . Feasting on the scriptures and offering prayers have carried me through.
In a weakened state I have pondered what use my body is. Did you know that even if you are suffering, the word of God can still take root? Imagine that. What the natural condition makes desolate, God makes fertile.
I was reading the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. Alma, a preacher, came across a few disenfranchised Zoramites. A group of poverty-stricken people denied access to the synagogues. Instead of feeling depressed about their status, Alma “beheld [them] with great joy; for their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in preparation to hear the word. “Alma 32:6
Poverty had made these people open to hear the truth of God’s word, God’s gospel, because poverty compelled them to be humble. Sickness is a form of spiritual poverty that may compel some to become humble. Of course, Alma reminds us better would be to be humbled by the word rather than be compelled by external circumstances. However, either way, humility opens a door.
Alma 32 is called the discourse on faith but really it is about the word of God – described as a fertile seed. “Now if ye give place to that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that it is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, ye, it beginneth to be delicious to me’ . Alma 32:28
So, to take hold of the word, to plant it, and experience its growth is the beginning of understanding and enlightenment. The verses continue to expound upon the signs of a good seed. It sprouts and brings forth fruit of its own likeness. Of course faith parallels the development of the seed. However, whereas the seed goes on to produce the tree of life and the fruit ‘which is sweet and above all that is sweet’ (vs. 42), faith if allowed to maturate fully becomes knowledge and not faith. It can overripen, if you will.
The good seed’s success is dependent upon soil condition and nourishment. “if ye nourish it with much care it will get root , and grow up, and bring forth fruit.” Vs. 37 Within a sick person’s body, one may wonder where is any good, healthy, nourishing soil? It lies within the heart or the spirit. As long as the spirit seeks God as the body seeks water to quench thirst, there will be fertile soil where the word of God can take root. Watering and nourishing are only partially fulfilled by one’s Will. The word of God provides the physical materials. Our spirit merely needs to apply faith that is so light that even the frail can carry.
Even while in pain, one can exercise ‘diligence and …faith and …patience with the word.” Vs. 42 And harvest and feast upon ‘this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.’ Vs 42 All of which can foreshadow death and heavenly rewards of partaking of the Tree of Life.
Within the limitations of chronic illness, we always have access to the word and can till the seed and watch it blossom within our spirits. Perhaps on occasion savoring the sweetness of the ripened fruit.