At the doors to Buddhist temples stand two lions. These statues stand as sentinels on either side of the door guarding the entrance. To enter the temple, one must pass these lions; one is Fear and the other is Pride. If you possess either of these, you cannot pass.
When we possess either of these, we are forgetting the power and wisdom of God. Pride can be a blinder that prevents us from seeing the kindness, the importance and the strength of others. Pride encourages us to depend on our own strength. It tells us that we know best, that we don’t need others. Pride is a slow growing cancer that eventually alienates us from others. In advanced stages of pride, we are bitter, judgmental and selfish. We become less concerned with the good of community and concerned only with what seems good for us. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”
When we are filled with pride, we set ourselves up as all knowing. We depend solely on ourselves and expect others to do likewise. We forget God and what he can do. Jeffrey R. Holland said, “We must constantly remind ourselves that God is God and we are not.”
When we set aside pride, and walk past that lion, we not only see and understand the power and wisdom of God, but we also come to understand the true power within us.
Fear is the opposite of faith. The two cannot coexist. In the Old Testament, 2 Kings, chapter 16, the Lord, through the Prophet Elisha teaches this very important principle. The King of Syria wages war against Israel. Armies of Syria surround the city, trapping the people of Israel. Fearing the worst, Elisha’s servant asked, “Alas, my master, how shall we do?” Elisha answered – and this is the lesson in faith – “Fear not: for they that be with us are greater than they that be with them.” Elisha then asked the Lord to open the eyes of the servant. The young man opened his eyes and he saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire. The Lord had sent his armies to the aid of the people.
They that are with us everyday are greater than those things that are against us. If we will set aside our fear and walk past that lion in faith, we will see that God truly is God. If we open our eyes, we will see God’s armies around us everyday. It’s unlikely those armies will be horses and chariots of fire; but if we look, we will see neighbors willing to help us through a crisis. We will find a community rallying around a person in the mist of personal tragedy. We will see God’s hand in our lives.
Bad things happen to the faithful as well as to the unbeliever. Setting aside pride and having faith does not protect us from pain and heartache, but it does help us through those difficulties. More importantly, it can help us learn from struggles. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA, said, “Things work out the best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” This teaches us that faith is not a passive word. It is an action word. As coach Wooden tells us, things work out the best for those who MAKE the best out of the way things work out. In times of trial we need to get on our knees and ask for help, then get on our feet and do something about it.
Although it’s not expected that we sit and do nothing while life turns things upside down, if we are humble and full of faith we can have peace and a sense of calm as we work to make things better. Through all of life’s challenges, we should always remember what God tells us in the 46th chapter of Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
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Main title photo (Lake with Trees) by CastleGate Media LLC
Temple Lion by Wikimedia commons
General Conference address by Jeffrey R. Holland: “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent” (Source: lds.org)
General Conference address by Jeffrey R. Holland: “The Grandeur of God” (Source: lds.org)
Psalms 46 (Source: lds.org)
If ye are prepared ye shall not fear. Doctrine & Covenants, section 38