Suffering, deprivation can be agency of growth

The Zoramites were an apostate sect of Nephites in Antionum who followed Zoram (Alma 30:59, 31:3), who is not to be confused with Laban's servant by that name. (1 Ne. 4:20.) Nothing is known of the apostate Zoram's birth, death or personal history; he came on the scene about 75 B.C., during the time of Alma the younger.

The Zoramites were idol worshippers who believed that Christ would always be a spirit, and they denied He would come in the flesh. They erected "a place for standing," called Rameumptom, in the center of their synagogues. Each worshiper mounted the stand, stretched out his hands toward heaven and repeated a prescribed incantation. (Alma 31:13-18.)Upon hearing the gospel, many poor Zoramites were converted, but the majority rejected its truths. The converts were driven into the land of Jershon, while the unrepentant joined with the Lamanites.

When Alma spoke to the poor Zoramites who had been cast out of the synagogues "because of the coarsness of their apparel" (Alma 21:2), he "beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word." (Alma 32:6.) He said, " . . . blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble." (Alma 32:16.)

In The Pure in Heart, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote that Alma explained to the humble Zoramites that their desires could shape their souls:

" `But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.' (Alma 32:27.)

"Alma then compared the word to a seed, which, if not cast out by unbelief, will begin to swell, to enlarge the soul, and to enlighten the understanding. If nourished, it will become a tree springing up unto everlasting life. (Alma 32:28-41.)

"Hardships can deprive mortals of the power to act. But at the same time, hardships can be the means of eternal growth in attitude and desire. If endured with the right attitude and accompanied by righteous desires, suffering and deprivation can be the agency of great growth in our spirits.

"Viktor E. Frankl describes this principle in his account of tragic experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. He concludes that no matter how much is taken away in human freedom, no matter how severe the persecutions, no matter how terrible the conditions of psychic and physical stress, man can preserve what Frankl calls `the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.' Frankl writes:

" `Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually. . . . It is this spiritual freedom - which cannot be taken away - that makes life meaningful and purposeful. . . .

" `The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity - even under the most difficult circumstances - to add a deeper meaning to his life.' " (From Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor L. Frankl. Revised edition copyright 1962 by Viktor Frankl.)

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