Sunday, December 12, 2010

Strength Unto Deliverance

We all need deliverance from something. Whether it be an overwhelming day, the pain of injury or disease or the burden of sin, "all mankind [are] in a lost and in a fallen state" in need of deliverance (1 Nephi 10:6).

While deliverance will come in and through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we have a vital role in our own salvation. It is sometimes said that "God helps those that helps themselves". That phrase isn't scriptural, but those who make the greatest progress are those who accept the help available through the atonement and get to work.

The Red Sea wasn't parted for the children of Israel, for example. Rather, the Lord made help available and required Moses to use his staff to part the sea. Moses had to choose to act to be delivered from the armies of Pharaoh.

When Alma Sr. and his group of followers were taken captive, the Lord heard the prayers of the people and made their burdens light. Alma's people were given strength to endure. At length, the Lord provided an opportunity for the people to be delivered. Without action, the deep sleep of the Lamanite guards would have only created a small pause from tribulation. Alma and his people were prepared for the opportunity the Lord gave them, and were delivered from bondage through swift obedience (action).

Understanding this principle, Alma Jr. and his recently reactivated missionary companion, Amulek, provide us with a model for obtaining deliverance. Bound in prison, having just witnessed the massacre of all the Christians in Ammonihah, these missionaries endured all kinds of abuse with great patience. Alma's prayer was that the Lord would, "give us strength according to our faith in Christ, even unto deliverance" (Alma 14:26).

When Alma concluded his prayer, he and his companion were able to break the cords that bound them and emerge from a prison that had been shaken by the power of God and collapsed, killing their abusers. The narrator of the story, Mormon, explained: "Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ" (Alma 14:28).

Whatever our burden, we can be delivered like Alma and Amulek. If we will but endure a little while, preparing to act when the Lord gives us power to do so, we can be delivered from sin, death, sorrow and tribulation of every kind. With faith in Christ, we can choose to act rather than being acted upon. Through our action, we can choose deliverance.

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