Monday, November 23, 2015

The Power of Hope and Restraint

"And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things. And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy. And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days" (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 5:3-5)

Psychologist Walter Mischel performed a series of experiments on self control and delayed gratification with young children using varous rewards involving candy and marshmallows. The studies found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes. Intact families showed the strongest link to delay of gratification.  Children who came from homes without a father exhibited the least self control. (wiki)  Interestingly, Socio-economic status showed no correlation with study outcome. 

Sacrificing what we want now for what we want more later is both a spiritual and temporal principle.  Living prophets, scriptures, are critical to giving us a perfect brightness of hope for the future. God doesn't just promise us peace and joy in the next life but also happiness here and now if we keep God's commandments. If we had no hope in the future, there would be no reason to not just "eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die". However, with our hope of eternal glory we gladly enter into covenants with God to do His will and keep His commandments.

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:20)

Elder Neal A Maxwell spoke about the power of hope in 1994 General Conference talk entitled "Brightness of Hope".  Elder Maxwell says:

"Hope helps us to walk by faith, not by sight. This can actually be safer. When unaided spiritually, natural sight often shrinks from the odds. It is immobilized by improbabilities. Mauled by his moods and intimidated by his fears, the natural man overreacts to, while hope overrides, the disappointments of the day.

Hope is particularly needed in the hand-to-hand combat required to put off the natural man. Giving up on God and on oneself constitutes simultaneous surrender to the natural man.

Daily hope is vital, since the “Winter Quarters” of our lives are not immediately adjacent to our promised land either. An arduous trek still awaits, but hope spurs weary disciples on."

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