You Can Bet Your Beset

“I am encompassed about because of the temptations which so easily beset me.” (2 Nephi 4:18)

Did you know that encompassed and beset mean the same thing? Yup. Encircled; surrounded; enclosed; pressed in on all sides;  besieged.

For me, this verse could be said another way: “I am surrounded by the temptations which find it so easy to press in on me from all sides.” 

Yeah, Nephi my pal, aren’t we all. 

A friend told me, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that many other faiths believe that when trials come upon you, it’s because you’ve done something wrong—punishment, so to speak. If that’s the case, I must be screwing up on a consistent basis. 

Latter-day Saints have a different view. Trials and tribulations, aka crap, come to us because we are in school. This life is the time to prove ourselves to ourselves. Our Father in Heaven knows what we’re made of, but we have to gain that knowledge. This requires some serious wading through crap to become stronger and smarter. 

Case in point: The Lord told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac not because God wondered just what Abraham and Isaac would do, He knew full well; Abraham and Isaac needed to realize just how far they would go to obey the Lord.  They needed to learn what they were made of.

We are no different, though thankfully we aren’t asked to sacrifice our children. (But there are those times… sorry, I digress.) 

We will be surrounded by trials and temptations. There is no escaping it. Consider what Helaman has to say, “ .. that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind … ” (Helaman 5:12)

Note it does not say, “maybe when,” just “when.” And if you want a good visual to go along with this verse, think of arrows in a tornado. Such is the way of hardships and temptations. They come at you from all sides. And they WILL come. You can bet your bottom dollar. (Just what is a “bottom dollar” anyway? Regardless, I will bet it. )

Alma had a few words to say on the matter. If we are true to Christ, “[we] shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall [we] be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh [we] shall be gathered together in [our] place, that the storm cannot penetrate [us]; yea, neither shall [we] be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry [us].”
(Alma 26:6)

All words to rally to, but note the “certainess” of the verse. These things will happen as we live out our lives here on the Big Blue Marble. 

My faith may be strong, and I may have a pretty good understanding of why crap falls on me, but regardless, there are times I cry: 

“Master, carest thou not that [I] perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto [me], Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
(Mark 4:37-40)

Hard times will come. Temptations will beset. Trials will besiege. But, the Master of the wind and waves has overcome them all. I have no reason to be fearful. Everything will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.

Death by Chocolate

Nephi: ca 600 BC; Paul: ca 100 AD

Two of the greats in scripture; one in the Book of Mormon, one in the New Testament. Both were superb writers and prophets, and though their birthdays have a 700 year difference, they have these scriptures in common:

“O wretched man that I am!” 2 Nephi 4:17
“O wretched man that I am!” Romans 7:24

Centuries apart, the same lament—word for word. And not only that, but these are the good guys who “preached and teached.” Can we really consider them “wretched?” And if they were wretched, then what are we? What’s 100x below wretched? Basement wretched? Earth mantle wretched?

But, ah ha, what does the the word wretched really mean? For some uninformed reason I took the word to mean that you are a horrible individual. I went on the word “wretch,” which does mean “a deplorable or despicable character,” ( worthy to follow in the cinematic footsteps of Despicable Me 1, 2, and 3. 

My using the same definition to explain wretched is wrong (which wrongness on this, and other subjects, I’m unhappy to report happens often). The word “wretched,” in my trusty research spots—Strong’s Concordance, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, and—all mean the same thing: it’s the situation you’re in that’s the problem. You find yourself beset with trials that seem to go on forever. Life experience is the wretch, not you. 

Both of our cited great prophets follow their “O wretched …” declarations with lamentations over the flesh: 
Nephi: “Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh.”
Paul: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Let’s face it, the flesh can be a real bummer sometimes. Sure, the body is a gift, but in its current fallen state it’s the cheap knock-off, not the name brand.  

Dear Reader, this whole harangue has the sole purpose of stating the fact that the soul is not
a wretch, if only because of its Heavenly Parentage. We sometimes get ourselves in wretched situations through our bad choices, but we, us, kids of God, are not horrid wretches. 

And thanks to the help of Saint Dictionary, I have reached back through the centuries and I think I understand what Paul and Nephi were trying to say. Therefore I declare: 

“O wretched woman that I am! Who shall deliver me from the death of this chocolate? Yea, my thighs sorroweth because of my addiction to sugar.”