To which we owe all our happiness

Posted by Matthew Watkins on January 8, 2017

In a previous post, I talk about how one’s word was paramount to the Nephites, using the battle of Moroni v Zerahemnah in Alma 44 as an example. This posts also covers a lesson I’ve picked up from that battle.

Why the Nephites succeeded against the Lamanites

It’s around 73 BC. Zerahemnah, a Nephite dissenter, has joined up with the Lamanites and come to conquer the Nephites. They try to attack in Antionum, but they see that Moroni has covered his soldiers in battle armor, so they retreat and try to invade via Manti where they expect not to have to fight against Moroni’s army.

However, their element of surprise is foiled when God tells the prophet their plans. So when they come up through Manti, they encounter a double ambush from Moroni’s armies on both sides while they are crossing the river Sidon. Although their army more than doubles the Nephite army in numbers, and although they fight with more fury than any Lamanite has ever fought before, the Lord strengthens the Nephites, and they start getting wiped out.

At this point when the Nephites are the clear victors in the battle, Moroni ceases the slaughter and tries to offer a treaty with them to avoid further bloodshed. During the discussion of this treaty, Zerahemnah and Moroni both offer their perspectives on why the battle went so well for the Nephites.

Moroni tells Zerahemnah:

The Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ… by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us.

To which Zerahemnah counters:

we do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands; but we believe that it is your cunning that has preserved you from our swords. Behold, it is your breastplates and your shields that have preserved you.

The world will not see the Source. We need to point it out

When I read this, I thought about how those outside our faith see the blessings that we experience and yet are unable (or sometimes unwilling) to recognize the true source of those blessings. For example surveys show that in general, Mormons are the some of the happiest people on earth. And why are we so happy? The articles I’ve read suggest reasons like the following:

  • We tend to make more than average income
  • We tend to have strong, 2-parent families
  • We prioritize family values, education, community involvement, and self-reliance
  • Our “church family” is an automatic, tightly-knit community of friends
  • We don’t self-medicate with alcohol or drugs
  • Our Church’s welfare system is efficient and give us a safety net to relieve financial fears

All of these are valid factors to our victory over unhappiness, of course. Just like Zerahemnah credited the cunning of Moroni and the battle armor were valid factors to the Nephite victory over his armies. But to say that the result is caused by these certain factors is like saying that the noticeable weight gain I’ve experienced this holiday season is due specifically to peppermint bark and chips.

Those are factors, but the root reason for my “holiday 5” is my inability to turn down snacks and baked goods in general. Moroni wanted it made absolutely clear to Zerahemnah and his army why the Nephites won so dramatically. We should likewise strive to make it clear to the world that all good things that we experience in our lifes come because “the Lord is with us… because of our religion and our faith in Christ… the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness.”

We may not see the Source. We need it pointed out

Unfortunately, even we can get forget why we have the many blessings we do. Sometimes we may be blinded by a Korihor complex and let our pride fool us into thinking that we are the reason we are so blessed: that “every man fare[s] in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength.” That is a dangerous position to be in, and one which invariably leads to a humbling reminder.

But sometimes our inability to see the reason behind our blessings is not as insidious. Perhaps we just haven’t yet connected the dots. Fortunately we have many resources there to remind us that “all things which are good cometh of God.” The Scriptures, Church leaders, General Conference, daily prayers, and even family members all remind us of King Mosiah’s injunction to gratitude:

O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!

…Render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another…

who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another.

Not only is it a good practice to develop an “attitude of gratitude”, it’s a commandment, and a pretty serious one at that, and one that we should apply to literally everything in our life:

And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.”

We should spend more time thinking about our blessings, large and small, and where they come from. And when others comment on something good they see in our lives, we should explicitly acknowledge the Source from which those blessings spring.

This post first appeared on Power in the Book