I love how every time I read the Book of Mormon, there’s always something else to learn, or rediscover. This time, I’m looking for things on joy and being prepared. And right off, what do we have?
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.” ~ 1 Nephi 1:1
Despite every trial he faced—and there were a lot—Nephi chose to keep his focus on the Lord, and on the blessings his family had been given. His life was not easy. Just look at what he had to go through:
- He and his family had to flee from Jerusalem because the Jews were angry with his father for preaching against their wickedness and prophesying about the Messiah (1 Ne. 1:18-2:5).
- Five separate murder attempts on his own life (four by his brothers, one by Laban) (1 Ne. 3:25; 7:16; 16:37-39; 17:48; 2 Ne. 5:3).
- eight years wandering in the wilderness on a near-starvation diet and other hardships (1 Ne. 16-17)
- the death of his father-in-law, Ishmael (1 Ne. 16:34)
- nearly perishing on the boat ride toward the Promised Land (1 Ne. 18)
- and other things that are likely not recorded
With all of that, what does he choose to do? He could have chosen to become as hard-hearted and bitter as Laman and Lemuel. But he didn’t. He recognized the good in his life, and he made a record of it. After they leave Jerusalem, Nephi seeks his own testimony of the things his father has been teaching, “having great desires to know of the mysteries of God” (1 Ne. 2:16).
I’m reminded of something that President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared in General Conference several years ago:
“When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.
“He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: ‘I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.’
“I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
“I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: ‘Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?’ As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”
What a wonderful reminder of where to keep our focus. It can be so easy to get discouraged and see only the bad in life. But President Eyring encourages us to do the same, to look back through our days and search for God’s hand in our lives. To find joy.
“More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.”
What a wonderful blessing: a stronger testimony, more gratitude, a greater knowledge of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and so much more!
What good have you seen in your life today? How has God shown His hand today? Write it down.