Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Testimony Settled as Dust

by Erin & John West  
At a youth fireside in Bellvue, Washington during January of 2016, Elder Dallin H. Oaks was asked what one should pray for in order to receive the same testimony that Alma the Younger had.  Elder Oaks’ answered the question, saying,

“I’ve never had an experience like that and I don’t know anyone among the 1st Presidency or Quorum of the 12 who’ve had that kind of experience. Yet every one of us knows of a certainty the things that Alma knew. But it’s just that unless the Lord chooses to do it another way, as he sometimes does; for millions and millions of His children the testimony settles upon us gradually. Like so much dust on the windowsill or so much dew on the grass.  One day you didn’t have it and another day you did and you don’t know which day it happened. That’s the way I got my testimony. And then I knew it was true when it continued to grow.”

While Oaks’ makes a valid point in that the Lord can choose to give us a testimony in a variety of ways, unfortunately it is used to support a faulty method of receiving a testimony of the Gospel, of Christ, or of anything we seek to understand.  A testimony settles gradually like dust on a windowsill?  Or like dew on the grass?  Why is comparing a testimony to dust and dew so problematic?

Dust in the Wind

Picture the windowsill Elder Oaks spoke of and imagine the dust settling on it over time.  What happens to this dust when someone comes and blows it away with one strong breath, or comes and wipes it away with a cloth?  The questions answer themselves.  The dust is gone and there is no trace of it and you are left with a clean windowsill.  Now, what if your testimony is like this dust?

Some scriptures come to mind here.  The first is from Ephesians 4.  In verse eight, Paul teaches that when Jesus ascended, “he gave gifts unto men.”

“It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11-14)

If our testimony is like dust, it can be blown away by “every wind of teaching” that comes our way.  It can be wiped away by the trickery of other people.  Paul tells us we are to come to a knowledge of the Son of God.  In the epistle of James we are told to ask God and He will give liberally (not exactly a gradual, unnoticeable thing there.)  “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6).  If our testimony is dust, or like the waves of the sea, it is easily changed and even removed. 

A Sure Nail

What if our testimony was something different, like a nail?  Look back to our windowsill and imagine someone coming and driving a nail into the windowsill.  Can that be wiped or blown away?  Even if someone were to come and pry the nail out again, evidence of the nail’s existence remains—a hole.  Regardless of what one does, there is evidence on that windowsill that cannot be removed.  A testimony based on evidence is no different. 

How is such a testimony gained?  1 Nephi 10 contains a very simple answer, “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.”  We are promised that if we diligently seek, we will find something…we are going to find that witness.  Christ in Doctrine & Covenants 93:1 makes the same statement but in a more vivid manner, “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am…”  Seeing the face of Christ is not an undetectable subtle event to which we don’t come to a realization to twenty years down the road.  It is a very clear, unmistakable event, a witness upon which our testimony of Him can be based.

Nephi and Thomas

The truths contained in the two scriptures quoted above are proved in the examples of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, and Thomas in the New Testament.  With Nephi, his father revealed to him and his siblings the vision of the Tree of Life,

“And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.” –1 Nephi 10:17 (emphasis added)

Nephi’s request was very specific.  He wanted the power of the Holy Ghost to manifest to him in several ways: to help him see, hear, and know.  How long it took for what happened next isn’t very clear.  What is clear is that the answer he received didn’t settle like dust imperceptibly over a long period of time.  It was a nail driven into his soul—

“For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.  And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw.  And the Spirit said unto me: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?  And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.  And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired.” (1 Nephi 11:1-6)

We all know how the rest of this goes.  Nephi is shown his father’s vision, and is given its interpretation.   He witnesses the birth of the Savior, watches His ministry and death.  He is also shown a great deal more beyond that, such as Christ visiting the Nephites in His resurrected glory, and the destruction of the Nephite nation, etc.   He was able to see and know all things.  Were anyone to try and sway Nephi from his testimony, they’d fail, as he’d be able to counter them with the variety of witnesses he received.  

It is as Christ said in Matthew 7, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”  Nephi followed the godly counsel to seek diligently.  He kept the Lord’s commandments, and he received witnesses from the Lord.  His testimony was built on a rock.  You might even say it was like a nail hammered into a windowsill.

Thomas is another example of how those that seek, will find.  Unfortunately, he’s been labeled “Doubting Thomas” and this is used to describe anyone who seeks a witness, even if they are a faithful individual desiring confirmation of something they already believe.  Jesus taught his disciples about not just His death, but also His resurrection:

“Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?  They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.  Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?  Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.  And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”  (John 16:17-22)

Christ said He would see them again!  The general response of the disciples went as follows, “His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.  Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.” (John 16:29-30)  Surely Thomas was among them and claimed this same belief?

After Jesus’ resurrection, he visited his disciples and showed the nail prints in His hands and feet to the disciples.  All but Thomas were present at that time (John 20:19-24).  The disciples came and told Thomas all that had happened.  He responded, “…Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)  He wanted to experience what they had.  He wasn’t going to rely on their witness alone.  Jesus seems to recognize Thomas' desire when He comes to visit just over a week later.

“And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.   Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29)

Jesus showed great love for Thomas by giving him the witness he desired.  This confirmed what he foretold back in John 16:22, “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”  This testimony Thomas received was very much a strong nail driven into him and brought him joy.  It couldn’t be taken away from him.

When we allow our testimonies to be as dust, with no concrete, undeniable evidence, we place power into the hands of others to take our testimony away, wiping it clean so there is no trace of it.  As a result, we toss to and fro, and our testimony is as the man who built his house on sand, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:27)

However, if we seek God and pray faithfully for witnesses from Him, then our testimony is as  a nail.  It leaves a mark which cannot be removed by others.  We can boldly testify to the truth of all things when we have the evidence to back it up. 

(A special thanks to my husband for coming up with the idea that gave birth to this article.)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Turning to God for Comfort

by Nicky Smith

There is an interesting story in 1 Kings 19 about sorrow and comfort. After Elijah had killed 850 Baal priests on Mount Carmel, Ahab told his wife Jezebel. Jezebel was furious and sent a message that she would kill Elijah the very next day. Elijah was petrified. Given that he had just witnessed two massive manifestations of the power of God (fire from heaven lighting the sacrifice and rain ending the drought), you'd think that he would not be afraid of Jezebel. However, he was terrified. For some reason, Elijah lacked faith that with God's help he could overcome Jezebel and he ran for his life for an entire day in order to escape her. 
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. (1 Kings 19:4)
Elijah compared himself to the fathers and felt he wasn't good enough. He saw death as the only option. 

The Focus of Our Sorrow
Why was Elijah filled with so much despair? Was it perhaps because he expected a different outcome after the events on Mount Carmel? Perhaps he had hoped that they would lead to a real change in the spiritual climate of Israel. Yet it didn't. Whatever the reason, Elijah felt depressed and despondent.  

During the next 40 days, an angel came and gave him bread and water to sustain him. After regaining his strength, Elijah went and hid in a cave. The Lord then asked him why he was in the cave; Elijah responded that people wanted to kill him and he was alone as all the other prophets had been killed. Essentially Elijah was saying, "Lord, I am all alone and I don't even know if you have forsaken me." The Lord told him to go up into the mountain and there demonstrated some incredible things with his power: a massive wind that broke up the mountain, an earthquake, and a fire. 
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19)
Despite God demonstrating his power through the elements which could have been a source of comfort to Elijah, reminding him that God is stronger than Jezebel, and despite God speaking to him, Elijah would not be comforted. He still felt so incredibly alone since he had given into the temptation of self-pity. 

When we feel self-pity, it is usually due to pride. It arises out of expecting a different outcome and not accepting the truth of a situation or the truth about ourselves. The only way to overcome this and to embrace the comfort God wants to give us is to repent. 

It is interesting to contrast Elijah's sadness with that of Enoch's. Enoch was shown the flood and "as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted." (Moses 7:44) But, then the Lord said to Enoch, "Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look." After Enoch saw Jesus's life and death, "his soul rejoiced." (Moses 7:47) In this instance, Enoch's sorrow was not for his own situation in life, but he felt sorrow for the wickedness of others. Due to the focus of Enoch's sadness, he did not lose hope, while Elijah, on the other hand, felt totally hopeless. This could be why Enoch was comforted due to the things God showed him, while Elijah struggled to feel comforted. 

Since we know Elijah was a man so close to the Lord, had access to a great deal of God's power, and was eventually translated, it is tempting to assume that Elijah didn't do anything wrong. However, the Bible contains all: the good and the bad. Elijah wasn't perfect and he made mistakes. His response to Jezebel was a mistake and something we can learn from (instead of judge him).

I have felt self-pity many times and I have come to understand that self-pity always distances me from God. Each time I repent of my pride, the hurt leaves and my heart opens to comfort God can give me. I still have a long way to go in learning to love like Jesus, but the more I focus on loving others, the less I feel pitiful over the way others may treat me. In the end, the more love I have for others, the more connected I am to the Lord and negative experiences hurt less. 

Turning to God Instead of the World for Comfort
One of the most difficult things we can experience is the feeling of being abandoned by God, that he has in some way forsaken me. There have been times where I can see that I am to blame for this feeling because I deviated from God's will in some way. Other times I have given in to the temptation to lose faith or hope in the promises God has given me (perhaps a bit like Elijah?). Even still, as I try earnestly to obey God in doing his will completely, there are times where I still feel distant from him. In these moments God allows me to feel alone in order to see if I will continue being obedient to him, even when I am not feeling filled with the Spirit. Furthermore, these moments provide a litmus test to demonstrate how much I have overcome of my weaknesses and how much further I still have to go. 

Life is hard sometimes. Being a homeschooling, homesteading mother of five young children (the oldest two are seven) is often demanding. Throw in hormones and being a wife and a struggle to sleep at times, it's the perfect recipe for experiencing some of life's challenges. It is only natural that sometimes we may feel a little bored, tired, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, or alone. Furthermore, sometimes there are specific trials God gives us to help us overcome our weaknesses and strengthen our faith in him. Recently when I was struggling with a particular trial, I cried out to God, "I just can't do it anymore. I'm struggling. I doubt my own ability to overcome this." I felt like giving up on myself. That night I had a dream in which I was shown that God has not given up on me even though I was struggling to find hope in my own abilities to endure. This was a great source of comfort from that time on and strengthened my faith in what the Lord had asked of me. As we turn to God to comfort us, he will comfort us. I have learned that as I try to do the Lord's will and turn to him when I am struggling, God is always there to comfort me, even when I don't see it. I really am not alone. He has not abandoned me. I have been shown that there are unseen angels. 

During those times when we feel alone, it is easy to turn to the world for comfort. Do you ever turn to social media, such as Instagram or Facebook, when you feel alone or bored? Or when you feel anxious or depressed, do you turn to a substance, such as food or chocolate? Or when you feel overwhelmed with life, do you turn to talking it through with others? None of these things are inherently bad, but when we use them as a replacement for turning to the Lord, they block us from receiving the comfort God wants to give us. In essence, they become like a god to us as we look to them as sources of comfort and a way to ease our burdens. 

Throughout the scriptures the Lord says that He will comfort us when we need comforting. After all, the Holy Ghost is called the Comforter (John 14:26) and Jesus is called another Comforter (John 14:16-18). Isaiah wrote the words of the Lord, saying, "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13) Also, when Jesus began His ministry, He used the words of Isaiah to describe His mission:
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
(Isaiah 61)
Recently I felt quite hurt by the actions of another. As soon as I had the opportunity to be alone, I went to pray. I explained to God how this situation felt like a knife in my heart and it made me feel sad. Words then came into my mind telling me that Jesus knew how I felt and I was reminded of his suffering and how it hurt a lot more, yet he allowed the mistreatment and instantly forgave. I felt so comforted from the words given to me in that instant. In that experience, I was given instruction to forgive and let it go but was also reminded that Christ knows how I feel since he has been through that and so much more. I was given both comfort and encouragement to be more like Jesus. 

There have been other times where I have cried out to God for comfort and I have received nothing. I know that even when it seems like God isn't comforting us, we can trust it is for our own good and growth. Everything he does shows the greatest amount of love he has for us. I also have come to learn that even if I don't feel comforted immediately, I need to persist in seeking comfort from God. It is hard, but when we give up, we show our lack of faith and lack of desire. It is interesting to examine the situations in the New Testament where people asked Jesus for help multiple times before he helped them. Ignoring their first request strengthened their faith and determination (e.g. Mark 7:27 & Matthew 20:30-31). Asking can't happen just once. If we truly desire comfort from God, we need to be willing to persist in our requests until God gives us that comfort. 

Life will often not go the way we expect. When we focus our expectations on what we think is best and what we want, it opens the door to Satan leading us to feel discouraged, hopeless, depressed, and fearful. He wants us to feel like a failure. Our self-pity makes it difficult to feel God's comfort and often leads us to want to hide in a cave (as Elijah did). As we repent and focus on loving others, we are able to experience comfort from God. Seeking this comfort entails not turning to the world during those difficult moments, but persisting in our requests for comfort from God alone. This comfort transcends the comfort that the world and others can offer us, which is always fleeting. His comfort always builds our faith and our love for God and others. It is the only comfort we should desire. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blessed are the Meek

by Nicky Smith

Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)

In recent years I have wondered what the word meek really means. I knew many associated it with gentleness and humility and that some saw meekness as an inherent lack in strength and character. I had a suspicion that some of this was wrong and that there was so much more to the concept of meekness. 

Recently as I have been seeking comfort and understanding from God as I experienced a particular trial, God has taught me more about meekness. I have come to realize that meekness is about submission; that is, meekness involves our patient endurance of suffering without resentment or bitterness. Meekness requires self-control and strength to resist giving into temptation during suffering. It also demands at least a measure of humility.

Just as with other Christlike attributes, the development of meekness is reflected in our behavior and attitudes towards God and others, even though it is a condition of the heart. In other words, the amount of meekness we have can be measured by how we respond in situations involving suffering and how we react when we are treated badly. Meekness is not seeking to control a situation or others. Meekness is in essence, submission. 

Submission in Suffering
The world has an incorrect understanding of submission. Submission is not about doing everything and anything another says. Instead, submission has to do with not seeking to control. Recently I was drawn to study 1 Peter and this entire book speaks about the concepts of submission and meekness (although the word meekness isn't used). 

In 1 Peter, Peter discusses the necessity of suffering as we traverse the path towards becoming more like Jesus. Trials and suffering are a common part of life. While we may not suffer daily, most of us have difficult experiences at least fairly regularly. These experiences are often out of our control and arise out of our interactions with others. At times they could involve losing something, such as a job, a home, or a loved one. They could involve painful interactions with another person, such as a difficult co-worker, spouse, or children. Trials can also result from not having something you really desire, such as sleep, health, children, marriage, or financial stability. 

Likewise, Paul referenced suffering as necessary in the learning of obedience to God (Hebrews 5:7-8), in the path towards perfection and becoming sanctified (Hebrews 2:10-11), in the development of humility (2 Corinthians 12:7), and in experiencing comfort from God and offering that comfort to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-6). I have also found that suffering increases my faith and trust in God and his plan for me (see 1 Peter 1:6-7). In essence, the purpose of suffering is to draw us to God. If we are consistently seeking to do the Lord's will, we can know that the experiences we have are for our good. They are a part of the path God desires we walk in order to grow. Everything he allows us to experience is a portrayal of his great love for us as he seeks to draw us to him. On the other hand, when we sin and seek our own way, sometimes we bring unnecessary suffering on ourselves, although that suffering is still useful, if not necessary, in bringing us back to God.

When we suffer as a result of the words and actions of others, it is only natural to resist those experiences and try change the situation or people involved, or treat them in the same way they treated us. However, trying to control situations and people is not submission. It is not submitting to the path God has set before us so that we can learn obedience to him, increase our humility, receive comfort from him, and ultimately become more like him. It is not meekness.

Meekness Towards God
When we have difficult experiences that cause us suffering and pain, meekness towards God involves submission to the experience and seeking to learn exactly what he desires us to learn through that experience. It is trusting in Him that this experience is the best thing for us to grow closer to him and overcome our weaknesses and sins. Meekness involves turning to God for learning and comfort, instead of the world to change the situation to minimize our suffering. 

I have come to realize that often there is no other way to learn the things God is asking us to learn and overcome than through suffering. Recently as I was experiencing a particular trial, I was praying and I asked God if there was any other, less painful way I could learn the lesson he was trying to teach me. I then remembered Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asking his Father if there was perhaps another way. Very quickly Jesus knew there really was no other way to accomplish the Father's will and he replied, "Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." (Mark 14:36) Although my trial was not anything like Jesus', meekness towards God is having the same attitude: "I know I can do this because all things are possible with your help. I will do your will. I submit to you."

As I have come to realize and accept the necessity of my really hard, painful trials in order to overcome my weaknesses, I know I ought be grateful for them. God in his incredible love for me is allowing me to have these experiences so I can draw closer to him. That is amazing! As I submit to the experiences, I can feel his love for me to a greater degree. 

Meekness Towards Others
While meekness involves submission to God in choosing to accept his will as our own, this attribute is also reflected in our behavior towards others. Meekness involves submitting to the actions of another while not seeking to control them. In 1 Peter 2-3, Peter discusses what submission means. Peter begins by speaking to servants, then to wives, followed by husbands, and finally to everyone. In examining how Peter describes submission, it is clear that submission is not about obeying another. Peter never mentions obeying another. The only person we ought to obey is God. God may tell us to do as another says, but in the end we are obeying God and not man. 

In addressing servants, Peter says: 
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. (1 Peter 2, ESV)
Peter wrote that it is so much more impressive when you respond well to undeserving harsh treatment at the hand of another, than if you respond well to harsh treatment you brought on yourself. Peter then says, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands" (1 Peter 3:1) As he begins speaking to each group, he says "likewise" meaning that the advice to the previous group applies to the following group. In other words, the instruction given to servants applies to wives and the instruction to servants and wives applies to husbands. 

Over and over Peter discussed the need to treat others with love when they cause us to suffer in some way. When Peter addressed everyone he wrote:
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3)
This is how you show meekness. This is how you submit. You have compassion for the other person. You love them. You don't return the same treatment back to them. Several times Peter referred to Jesus as the ultimate example of meekness:
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. (1 Peter 2)
When we experience a painful situation at the hand of another, too often we try and control them or the situation. Sometimes this control comes through the use of defense mechanisms. Other times we "render evil for evil, or railing for railing" (1 Peter 3:9). Perhaps we try and control another through giving them advice or constructive criticism. Regardless of how we respond, if we do not respond with love, we are not being meek and submissive. 

Years ago I knew someone who was frequently impatient with me or with situations involving me. These interactions caused me a great deal of pain. Instead of submitting to the experience, I braced against it. I tried to fight it. I sought to change this person so they would no longer be impatient with me. I used defense mechanisms both to protect myself and to try change this person, because in those situations I felt like I had no control. At some point I began working on myself and changing myself. At first I controlled my response in those situations and after many months I began noticing my heart changing. I no longer felt pain. I no longer felt like I was suffering. I began to feel love for this person. I stopped feeling the need to control in those situations. I am far from being meek though. Other situations and experiences have arisen in which I have resorted back to my desire to change the other person from treating me in a particular way. I offer unwanted advice. This is not loving. This is not submissive. I now see that each of these experiences are given to me by the Lord to help me increase in meekness. 

Meekness Requires Self-Control and Humility
Responding only with love when we are being treated badly or go through some really difficult experience requires great self-control. It takes self-control (i.e. temperance) not to get angry or to retreat emotionally. While meekness involves not controlling God or others, it also always requires controlling ourselves and the way we react in difficult, painful situations. 

Peter continues his discourse on submission and says, "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." (1 Peter 5:5) Self-control requires humility. It requires a reliance of God and not viewing ourselves as superior to others. Without a measure of self-control and humility, submission and meekness aren't possible. 

Moses: The Meekest Man
Apart from Christ, Moses is described as the meekest man: "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3) Moses was meek because he learned to submit to God's will, as opposed to doing thing his own way. When Moses first understood that he was called to help the Israelites be free, he went about it in his own way. Later though he understood what God's will entailed and did just that. Despite him having to leave his family to obey God and despite him suffering along with the Israelites in the wilderness, he ultimately submitted. Furthermore, he did not seek to control the Israelites. He allowed them to make bad choices but continued to teach and guide. He did not react to them in the same way they treated him and the Lord. He responded with love, which love is evident in his intercessory prayers on behalf of the people. 
30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
33 And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. (Exodus 32)
Imagine asking God to blot your name out of the book of life if he did not forgive the people. Over and over again, Moses demonstrated his charity and meekness in his behavior and attitude towards God and the Israelites. 

Decide to Develop Meekness
Submitting to the wrongful treatment of another is a decision we make. Submitting to God's will is something we resolve to do. As we begin to do it, we will grow in meekness. Moroni wrote that meekness then leads to increased faith, hope, and charity. 
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity. (Moroni 7:43-44)
Through practice we can learn to better submit to God, not control others, and have greater self-control. Faith and love will flow from us as do this. I am far from being meek. At times I lack self-control. At times I forget to trust in the promises God has given me. At times I revert back to trying to control people. However, all the experiences of suffering we endure not only provide an opportunity to overcome our weaknesses and develop greater trust in God, but they enable us to develop meekness as we submit.