Afflicted and Favored

31 Jan 2017

It’s been a tough year for the Berea Ward. We claim a weekly attendance of about 80 people, and have seen deaths in at least four families, long term hospitalizations, severe acute medical conditions. And that’s just the stuff I can talk about. At some point, it begins to feel like we just moving from one tragedy to another.

Ward conference was today, and the program for Sacrament meeting was just the bishop and the stake president speaking. Our bishop started his talk with the start of 1st Nephi.

having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord

He went on to talk about how blessings and afflictions are not mutually exclusive. They often come together. It may not be the case that we are Afflicted so that we may receive blessings, but being Afflicted certainly opens the door to new blessings.

The stake president then started his talk by declaring that instead of reading his prepared talk on charity, he would talk about death instead. He spoke of grief, and mourning, and forgiveness. It was a somber talk that really addressed the agony so many in our ward are enduring.

And then the closing hymn fired up with “The Spirit of God.” At first, I was amused at the transition from such solemnity into a hymn so full of celebratory excitement. Butthen we started singing the second verse.

The Lord is extending the Saints’ understanding … The knowledge and power of God are expanding The veil overthe earth is beginning to

This was the moment where I began to be overwhelmed. Yes, my little ward is suffering in so many ways. But the people who are suffering are bearing their afflictions in such a way, that their knowledge and power will expand. I believe that, for them, the veil is about to burst.

We’ll call in our solemn assemblies in to spread forth the kingdom of heaven that we through our faith may begin to the visions and blessings and glories of God

The suffering enduredby this ward in the past year is far disproportionate to its size. It has certainly stretched the limits of those members and expanded to depths of charity from those who have been spared these afflictions. As we sang that hymn, however, it came over me that this was how we built Zion in this part of Kentucky. If I’m right, I expect the affliction will transform into favor, and we are about to see something remarkable.