One important aspect of faith is that Heavenly Father knows everything. It seems obvious, but sometimes, in our day to day lives, we forget to act on this knowledge.
“But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accompish all this works among the children on men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.” (1 Nephi 9:6)
We look at life from a very limited perspective. We see what is happening right now, and we often see it from a perspective of what we think would be best for us. Heavenly Father is looking at the world from an eternal perspective. Our little bit of time here on earth is important to Him because He loves us dearly, but He also has to see things from the larger perspective. He, like any good parent, knows that sometimes what we think would be best for us would not be best at all, perhaps not for us, and perhaps not best for others who would be affected by our request were it granted.
One of my favorite stories for understanding this is the story of Abinadi, in the Book of Mormon, the book of Mosiah, chapter 11. Abinadi was a prophet, sent by God to preach to the Nephites. They had come under the rule of a wicked king named Noah, who taught them to live a wicked life. Abinadi called them to repentance, instructing them to abandon the teachings of their wicked king. Needless to say, King Noah was not pleased with Abinadi’s message and wanted him captured and arrested.
Two years later, Abinadi returned and again preached repentance. He prophesied the destruction of the people and the king’s death if they didn’t repent. He was arrested and taken before the king. After listening to Abinadi’s preaching for a while, he commanded his priests to kill Abinadi, claiming Abinadi was mad. However, when these armed and powerful soldiers surrounded Abinadi, he said,
“Mosiah 13:3 Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time.
4 But I must fulfil the commandments wherewith God has commanded me; and because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. And again, because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad.
5 Now it came to pass after Abinadi had spoken these words that the people of king Noah durst not lay their hands on him, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses’ did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord.
6 And he spake with power and authority from God; and he continued his words, saying:
7 Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message. Yea, and I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities.
8 Yea, and my words fill you with wonder and amazement, and with anger.
9 But I finish my message; and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved.”
Mosiah went on to deliver the message God sent him to deliver. The king and most of his followers were unmoved, but one man, a priest named Alma, felt the spirit and knew what Abinadi was teaching was true. He pleaded with the king to spare the prophet’s life, but instead, the king also ordered Alma’s death. Alma flees.
Over the years, I’ve taught this story to many children. Children are upset that Alma leaves. They want him to stay and rescue Abinadi. Abinadi, having delivered his message and converted Alma, is put to death.The children, looking at the story only from the perspective of their love for Abinadi, are upset that Abinadi is allowed to die and that Alma did nothing to help.
They are unable, at that moment, to see the eternal perspective. Abinadi himself had said that once he delivered his message, he could die. His purpose was to convert Alma, which he did. Alma would most likely not have been able to defend the prophet against an army, and would have been killed himself.
From an eternal perspective, this would have been a disaster. Alma went on to convert many people. From his lineage would come those who were present when the Savior appeared to the Nephites. Both he and Abinadi fulfilled their purposes in God’s plan.
In our own lives, we must always be aware that we may not understand God’s choices for our lives because we see through a limited perspective, but God, who sees all of eternity and knows the end from the beginning, can make wiser choices. We may not always understand, but we can have faith.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.