Whilst serving on the mission, I often had conversations with my companions about taking joy in others’ misfortunes. I laugh right now as I write because literally I was laughing at someone only days ago for sitting down on the wet ground. But I have repented since then [jokes, have not, but I still got time;)], and actually this is not the kind of celebration for misfortunes that I am talking about.
The kind of misfortunes to which I refer and which I often pondered as a missionary might perhaps be better termed blessings in extreme disguise. I pondered them because sometimes I felt guilty that I was grateful for the struggles that I saw already in people’s lives and/or enter into their lives, as we began to meet with them. Of course I didn’t have joy in their pain, but I what I did have was an immense gratitude and even excitement for the hardships they were experiencing because I knew so undoubtedly that they were gifts from God—opportunities to help these people be humble and recognize that the gospel was especially for them and that God wanted to be a larger part of their lives. It was so clear to me.
Still, my overly analytical and guilt-prone conscience left me wondering some days if this truly was an upright kind of celebration.
Then one day I made the rounds to Alma 17, the chapter of every primary child’s favorite story, and noticed this in verse 29:
“Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy…”
Yes! Scripture said it: I am not cast out for taking joy in other’s misfortunes so long as it is for the bettering of their eternal standing.
And if it were possible, I would love this verse even more for what is written next.
“For, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants,
Wait, pride? Nahhhh. Just Mormon, who abridges this record, being human. But an inspired human nonetheless, and so the correction is made:
“Or the power which is in me in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.”
This week in my religion class our teacher reminded me of these kinds of wonders. The happiness these whoops moments bring to me is not possible to depict in writing so either you’ll get it or you wont. Here’s my fave:
“And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace [says Mormon: ‘Ahhhhh, no. There’s two hours I’ll never get back…’] or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.”
Alma 24:19. Please note the smiley face in the margins of the featured photo.
Annnnnnd I will stop my dorkiness now. I’m only slightly embarrassed.
But also not really, because for me these moments of apparent imperfection make the record that we call the Book of Mormon even more inarguably real than it would have been if Mormon’s slips and subsequent corrections didn’t exist.
I know that Joseph Smith was an instrument in God’s hands to deliver the words of the Book of Mormon to us in exactly the way that our Heavenly Father intended for us to have them. As my teacher said, even when the Book of Mormon is wrong, it’s right. I pray we all may have the wisdom to be believing no matter the circumstance.