Note: For the duration of Riley's mission, this blog will be produced and edited by his parents, Daisy and Todd Stonely.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 37: Racked With Torment, Filled With Joy

Dear Friends and Family,

HAHA I know I mentioned the Atonement last week in my email, however it is such a great thing so I wanted to mention another insight that came from my personal study throughout the week! One day I was reading in Alma 36, which is the story of Alma the younger after he came back from preaching to people about the church. And in Chapter 36, he is talking to his son, Helaman. And I wanted to share a couple thoughts that I had throughout the reading.

And now, O my son Helaman (Elder Stonely), behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day (Alma 36:3). 

I took from this verse the fact that anyone who trusts in God will be able to be supported. No matter the circumstance, we have this gift. Later on in the chapter Alma recounts his conversion story about how he used to be a crazy sinner. He explains in the following verses how he felt during these times. And I thought to myself, "How bad would this have to feel?" and "how hard would this have been?"

But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins (Alma 36:12).

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death (Alma 36:18).

Alma the Younger Called to Repentance. Artist, Gary L. Kapp

I thought about how that must feel to really be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death" and to feel at your all time lowest as if never to escape. And Verse 18 is actually when he is praying and asking for forgiveness. And in the preceding three verses he explains how he "was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!" (Alma 36:20) and in the following verse, "so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy" (Alma 36:21).

As I took time to ponder those scriptures I really understood the importance of repentance and trying to perfect yourself. I thought back on the week and how there are just little things that are keeping myself from feeling the spirit on a 24/7 basis. And in a way, I felt like Alma where the "chains of death" were upon me. Though the extent of my own self wasn’t as bad as Alma, I felt a little bitter. As if tiny little disobedience was causing such a weight on me. And I love how he compares the pains to being bitter and the joy to being sweet. Because as we strive as missionaries to be exactly obedient and to work our hardest despite the world around us, we really can feel this "sweet Joy." 

And I also feel this applies to all people. As you continue to strive to be a better person and to repent daily one can come to feel the sweet joy as described by Alma. And one person can really enjoy the fruits of the Atonement. I am so very grateful for every day that I have to walk in the service of others and to really appreciate what I have been given on a daily basis. I am SO grateful. If I were to express the amount of my thankfulness or whatever you call it, I think I would explode. HAHA 

Thank you all for a great week and for all of your love and support! I love you all and can’t wait to talk to you later on :) 

Much love from Foley, AL #goingonninemonths
Elder Stonely :)

Trying on some shades.

Hangin with some members.

Now there is a yard sign I can believe in!