Thoughts on Gospel Doctrine Lesson 46

A good man, whom I love, awoke one morning to find his wife suffering with a serious heart attack. He immediately summoned emergency medical help and then attempted resuscitation to restore her breathing. In the frantic few moments before help could arrive, it became apparent that her life was gone and that his attempts were futile. The deep grief and the enormous feelings of loss were almost more than he could comprehend. His emotions ranged from deep sorrow to anger and then questioning. He repeatedly expressed his lack of understanding for this event and questioned the kindness or caring wisdom of Heavenly Father in allowing his wife's death.

In trying to be of some modest assistance, his friends and family members recalled to him the great plan of happiness, which provides answers to these difficult experiences. My friend cried that if the Lord would reveal to him that the plan was true, then he could more easily accept the event of his wife's death.

I was immediately reminded of Moroni's commentary after abridging part of the record of the Jaredites. Moroni was particularly impressed by the stories of the Jaredite prophets that demonstrate to the reader examples of faith and diligence. It was the life of Ether that prompted Moroni to say: "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" (Ether 12:6).

In other words, we learned together during that day of deep distress that we must first endure the trials of our faith, and then the witness of truth will come. This pattern of trial and then witness is repeated over and over again in each of our lives. My friend was inspired by Moroni's commentary and has responded to his trials in a wonderful manner. True to Ether's life and Moroni's promise, the witness has come to this good man, whom I love, in a most profound and important way.

This deeply personal experience prompted me to become very interested in the man who inspired Moroni in such a tender way. Ether was a hero to Moroni and has also become one to me.

One sleepless night, while serving as a mission president, I was greatly concerned about the condition of the mission. There was a need to provide some inspiration and motivation for the missionaries, but I was at a loss as to what or how I might provide it. Again my thoughts were turned to the prophet Ether because of his example of diligence and inspiration during his missionary experience. I love learning and studying about Ether because his life demonstrates qualities which I personally desire for myself, such as his supreme ability to concentrate during his service as a missionary:

And Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people...

...For he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof...

Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land. (Ether 12:2; 13:2, 4.)

That night I was impressed that a study of the life of Ether might provide the inspiration which was needed for our mission. Every missionary in the Church would do well to emulate this great prophet who understood the rigors of missionary work and performed at such a high level. Ether "could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him. Forhe did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun." (Ether 12:2-3.)

As a mission president, I found that this example of hard work and diligent effort was among the finest available. We challenged every missionary to learn to be an "Ether" because the Spirit of the Lord could make it possible for each of them to "not be restrained." Many of our missionaries did gain this level of spirituality which "could not be restrained," and thus were blessed with faith and results which had not been previously enjoyed. This, of course, resulted in a higher level of work even from early morning until late in the evening.

A tragic automobile accident claimed the life of a close relative, who was a beautiful thirty-year-old mother of four little boys. At the time of the accident, the eldest boy was six years old and the youngest was still a nursing baby of only a few months. The loss of a young mother is certainly one of the most tragic mortal conditions we can experience. During these significant trials, we often attempt to build a rationale which might explain these tragic losses. Yet as we come to understand, we realize that the experience of having trials and tribulations is part of the great plan for Heavenly Father's children. Remembering my love of Ether, I again referred a grieving husband and father to the Jaredite prophet for solace.

Ether was not immune from the tribulations of the world. His missionary work was essentially without positive results, and certainly was not productive. "For...they rejected all of the words of Ether" (Ether 13:2). Further, "they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out; and he hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth...viewing the destructions which came upon the people" (Ether 13:13-14). He did not cease his efforts and the exercise of his faith, even as he observed the disastrous lack of positive results from his work: "It came to pass that Coriantumr repented not, neither his household, neither the people; and the wars ceased not; and they sought to kill Ether, but he fled from before them and hid again in the cavity of the rock" (Ether 13:22).

For those of us who try to understand the great loss of our loved ones, we may compare our lot with that of Ether. We don't know exactly what happened to Ether's family. The record issilent as to his brothers and sisters and his wife and children, if any. We know little about his own household except that he was a son of Coriantor, who traced his genealogy back to Jared. Ether recorded that Coriantor died after begetting him, having spent his entire life in some form of captivity. Ether records that his great-grandfather Ethem "was wicked in his days" (Ether 11:11). Ether's grandfather Moron also "did that which was wicked before the Lord" (Ether 11:14).

Ether obviously came from difficult circumstances in his home, with somewhat of a "wicked" environment imposed on the household of his extended family. It is likely that he had little contact with his imprisoned or deceased father during the years of his youth. Somehow I envision a faithful and loving mother who accepted responsibility for her son because of her husband's captivity and untimely death. I know of several faithful men and women who have also lost their fathers early in life. It is a great loss to lose a parent at a young age. Yet many who have done so were taught important principles by their other parent, which resulted in a deep and abiding testimony of the gospel. The abridged record of Ether does not disclose the influence of a wonderful mother or even much detailed information regarding Ether's own immediate family. We are left to wonder about the family's conditions during Ether's youth.

Of Ether's personal life, we know that he was possessed of an unwavering faith and testimony of the Lord. The record does teach that the loss and destruction of his people, and possibly members of his own family, was so enormous that Ether was left alone. None of his own immediate or extended family survived the tragic civil war that resulted in the death and destruction of an entire people. No person among all of the people would repent and listen to the voice of this great spiritual giant. "For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether" (Ether 13:2).

Ether must have deeply sorrowed for the complete loss of this entire people, including any friends and family members. These loved ones could have been lost through the wickedness of the great civil war or through silent, innocent death.

It was Ether's enormous faith in difficult conditions that inspired Moroni and can also inspire us. It was the constant condition of trials and tribulation that framed the life of this great man of faith. Much of what we know about Ether is from theinspiration that came to Moroni while reading and abridging the record of the Jaredites. Some of the most inspiring principles were summarized by Moroni, with the conditions of the Jaredites and particularly the life conditions and writings of the prophet Ether as the context for his thoughts. Moroni, as a student of Ether, recognized that a belief in God is essential to the reality of a better world for every person. One should remember Moroni's words about hoping for a better world: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God" (Ether 12:4).

Ether, as my personal mentor of some years, has helped me understand how hope, which "cometh of faith, maketh an anchor" to my soul. It is this hope for a better world that is the foundation of the great plan of happiness. This profound hope-not yet complete faith-is part of the process of bringing stability into our lives. We can look to many of those we know and love for examples of spiritual stability. These are they who have sufficient faith to make an anchor to their souls. We will find this stability most with those who are "always abounding in good works," which will make them "sure and steadfast." Ether was a model of good works, which becomes a testament to his anchor of faith. He was steadfast, never wavering but always appropriately anxious to glorify God.

As Moroni continued to learn and be inspired about Ether and his fellow Jaredites, he became overwhelmed by his inability to convey the power of their words-a feeling experienced by other Book of Mormon record-keepers relative to their writings. Many of us, as we face the challenges in our own lives (even I as I write this chapter), are possessed with these same feelings. Through Moroni, the Lord provided a revelation which surely applies to us all: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27.)

The story of Ether was powerful enough to remind Moroniof the eternal nature of hope. Hope is both a predecessor and a derivative of faith. One may not be able to know or testify about things which are not seen, but one surely can have strong and significant hope. Neither Moroni nor Ether despaired or were much discouraged about the conditions and consequences of their lives. Each was given a deep and abiding faith in the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. The following is what Ether's words inspired Moroni to say about hope, which must precede and grow into "a more excellent hope:" "And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the mansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent hope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared" (Ether 12:32).

In facing tragedy, it is instructional to observe those who have complete and total faith in the reality of the mansions of our Father. This faith does result in a testimony of Jesus Christ and the process of the Atonement. "Man must hope, or he cannot receive" the blessing of the great plan of happiness, which provides peace and understanding for mortal mankind. It is this "more excellent hope" that allows us to accept whatever trial or test comes to us.

As each of us faces personal tragedy, we can have a much better acceptance of the final results because of the prophet Ether's example. Even the last words written and recorded by Ether are instructional and helpful in our personal lives. One can feel the great accord and peace which was manifest during his final mortal days: "Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen." (Ether 15:34.)

"Elder Monte J. Brough the Prophet Ether: Man of the More Excellent Hope," in Heroes from the Book of Mormon, 189-195.

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