Saturday, January 30, 2016

Humility Through Trials

The Book of Mormon tells the story of an ancient Prophet named Lehi, who left Jerusalem and travelled to a Promised Land. As I mentioned in my last post, Lehi had a couple of sons who were rebellious, Laman and Lemuel,  and a couple of sons who were much more obedient and faithful, Nephi and Sam.  Two more sons were born in the wilderness and were named Jacob and Joseph.

After some time of travelling in the wilderness, they came to the land Bountiful, where they beheld a sea. (1 Nephi 17:5) .  After they had been there for the space of many days, Nephi was commanded to build a ship, to carry the family across the waters to a new land (1 Nephi 17:8). His older brothers didn't think that he could do this, but Nephi went to the Lord and asked where he should go to find the materials to build the ship.  With the help of his humbled brothers, he built it not after the manner of man, but after the manner that God commanded him (1 Nephi 18:2).

Once the ship was finished, the ship was load with provisions of fruits and meats from the wilderness, and an abundance of honey, along with seeds and other provisions that the Lord had commanded them to bring. The family set sail and were driven forth with the wind towards the Promised Land (1 Nephi 18:8).

After several days at sea, Nephi's older brothers, and other men and their wives on the ship began to make merry, dancing and singing, and speaking with much rudeness.  They forgot by what power, the Lord's, that they had been brought forth out of the land. Nephi was afraid that God would be unhappy with them, and he began to speak soberly to them, perhaps to chastise them. They were not so thrilled that their younger brother was being a ruler over them.  Laman and Lemuel took cords and bound Nephi so that he could not move.

The family had been guided throughout their journey by the Liahona, a ball of curious workmanship, a compass of sorts which only worked when they were righteous. Once Nephi was bound, the Liahona ceased to direct them which way to point the ship (1 Nephi 18:12).  A storm also arose, and the ship was tossed by the waves and they were driven back for three days. The older brothers began to fear they would be drowned in the sea, but still they did not loose the bands restraining Nephi.

After four days, the tempest grew exceedingly strong, and the ship was about to be swallowed up by the sea. Nephi's brethren finally realized that they must humble themselves and repent of their wickedness so that they would not perish (1 Nephi 18:15).  They finally released Nephi from the bands on his hands and his feet. Nephi's hands and feet were swollen and exceedingly sore.

1 Nephi 18:16 says "Nevertheless, I (Nephi) did look unto my God and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.

I try to imagine what Nephi may have felt during those 3-4 days of being tied up by his brethren. Because he was a humble and obedient man, I doubt that he was continually berating his brethren, or telling them how dumb they were and how great he himself was.  He didn't tell them that they had better let him go, or "I hope you learn your lesson. " I doubt also that he continually complained in prayer to God... wondering why he had to endure this trial at the hands of his brethren.. "Why me?" perhaps never crossed his mind.  Nephi had seen visions of the future, as had his father, and he had faith in the Lord that he would be delivered.

What can we learn from Nephi about enduring trials?  When this trial was over he still praised God. Because Nephi had been taught of goodly parents (1 Nephi 1:1) he had seen visions and had a great knowledge of the Lord and His goodness. He had been blessed throughout his life and knew that God was aware of him.  Therefore when those trials came, he endured them with patience.

Several years ago, I suffered from a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia. It is a condition that causes sharp electrial pains in my face that were almost debilitating. I could not take over the counter medications to relieve the pain, since it was nerve based, but eventually I received prescriptions that somewhat helped. The pain would often interrupt my speaking, and eating, as I cringed and rubbed my face to try and relieve the pain. I couldn't drink from a straw, and it was often hard to even kiss my husband, because my face was very sensitive to touch.  I tried not to complain, and perhaps that saved my children from knowing how badly it really hurt. My husband, of course, was aware of my struggles.  It also did not help me feel better if I complained, nor did it make any of the pain go away. I assumed that there must be something that I needed to learn from that trial, but that lesson came years later.

After a few years of inconsistent periods of flare ups, I was able to receive a life altering procedure, called Gamma Knife surgery. This deadened the nerve that was causing the pain... it was amazing, and made life so much easier.

I firmly believe that I was given that trial to endure so that later, when Mark was enduring the pain and suffering of his cancer and it's treatments, I was much better able to have compassion for him. I think I was a better caregiver because I understood what it was like to be in pain.  When he had times that he was grumpy and irritated because of what he was enduring, I did not take it personally and get grumpy back. I'll also say that he pretty much kept his complaining between the two of us, and kept a face of faith to those around us. He received many Priesthood blessings to help give him courage and strength to endure.  Although Mark's deliverance from the trial he endured was death, he was an example to me of humility through an awful trial.

1 comment:

Robert Seamons said...

Thank you for sharing the experience of Lehi and his family. Thank you especially for sharing your trials. We live in a fallen world and we need to understand that bad things happen to all of us. We must endure them well!