Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 5:20-23

20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:

21 And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.

22 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?

23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.

Now begins a pattern that we will see many times over. The Israelites would suffer some setback, they complained to Moses, and Moses entreated the Lord. Most commonly during these complaints the Israelites would desire to return to things as they previously were, and that is also the case here. In verse 21 the Israelites’ complaint was that they were no longer valued slaves of the Pharaoh. They had lost their savor to their cruel taskmasters. What a strange thing to want to go back to!

Obviously, there is a little more to it than that. They made clear that they were afraid of “the sword,” meaning afraid that the Egyptians would slay them now. But still, when they had prayed and prayed for the Lord to deliver them, did they not fathom how His doing so would incense the Egyptians against them? Did they not realize that they would necessarily make enemies by gaining their freedom? So yes, it makes sense to be afraid for one’s life, but if they would rather have enslavement than the dangers of freedom, why pray for the freedom?

Perhaps because they did not expect the Lord to save them this way. Perhaps they expected the Lord to send heavenly angels to slay all their enemies for them and make their departure smooth and easy. Certainly, many of us do the same in our own lives. We pray for God to just magically evaporate all of our problems at no cost to ourselves. But as we’ve already seen in the Biblical record already, and as we will continue to see many times throughout it, that doesn’t tend to be how God solves problems. God gives us what we need, but He does so through a process, through dangerous and difficult means. He most often makes us an active part in our gradual deliverance. If we want the worthy reward at the end, we have to be prepared to take the difficult path that leads us there.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 32:6-8

6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

Jacob received an update from his messengers, and it did not sound promising. Esau was coming with four hundred men, an army, more than enough to kill Jacob and his entire household. And this isn’t all. Apparently, Esau did not provide Jacob’s messengers with any response that might set his brother at ease. He set out with unspoken intent, leaving Jacob to assume the worst.

In this dire situation Jacob came to a most heart-wrenching solution. He would divide his camp in two, so that if Esau came with violence half of the camp could try to flee as the other was consumed. This would mean saving half of his home, but only at the sacrifice of the other. At least in that case he wouldn’t have to decide which would be the surviving half, chance would decide that for him.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 31:1-3

1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.

2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.

3 And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

Unsurprisingly, Jacob’s increase had the side-effect of upsetting others. The sons of Laban were growing angry, and even Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had shifted. Yes, it was true that Jacob’s flocks had grown at the expense of Laban’s, but as we will see in the coming verses, this was due more to the divine intervention of God than his own cunning.

Jacob had fled his original home to escape the wrath of his brother, and it might have been that harmful thoughts were being cultivated against him in this new home as well. Fortunately, before things could ever get to violence, God commanded Jacob to leave this land for his original residence. God did not specify how things would go down when Jacob met Esau again, but he did provide the comforting promise “I will be with thee.”

Optimism in a Falling World- Alma 17:12-14

And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.
And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.


The sons of Mosiah took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.
And they had undertaken to preach the word to a wild and a hardened and ferocious people; who delighted in murdering and robbing and plundering.

It is remarkable to me what sort of people it was the sons of Mosiah chose to take their missionary efforts to. One would think they would look for a people that were already mostly in harmony with the gospel and preach to them, that way they would expect to have greater success, let alone a greater chance of survival!
But no, they went to the most corrupted people that they could, the people who hated them, the people that were furthest away from God. Of course Jesus’s disciples did much the same when they carried the gospel to the gentile nations, even to the same country that had carried out the execution of their master! They walked straight into the lion’s den, somehow expecting to accomplish good there.
And, remarkably, both the Nephites and early Christian missionaries absolutely did accomplish some good. Though they had trials, they also had great success. Because, as those early missionaries seemed to have understood, the people who are furthest from God are also the people who need God the most!

Peace in the Storm- Question

There is an iconic scene in the gospels, that of the disciples floundering for control of their boat in the Sea of Galilee. A storm has arisen, and is of such intensity that they all expect to be drowned. They call out to Jesus, who is still sleeping, and he arises to calm the sea with three simple words.

For those whose lives are falling apart, this story resonates as a desperate plea. For those whose lives have already been saved, this story resonates as an affirmation of peace. And for those that have passed through some storms but are still in the thick of others, this story is both plea and affirmation!

Each of us have our storms in life. Many of us spend a long while trying to manage them on our own, delaying nearly to the point of destruction. Then, in that moment of despair, we cry out for help, desperately hoping that there is someone to answer.

With this study I would like to examine a few of the different storms that rage around us. I will consider the tragedies of life, the ridicules of the world, and the moments of intense doubt. We will examine how we do our own part to bring peace to these moments, and how we depend on God to make up the rest.

In the meantime I would be curious to hear about your own experiences of peace within a storm. How have you been able to remain tranquil when all the world was in foment? Were there any moments that eventually made you buckle? How did God come to your rescue?