We Might Have Been Happy – 1 Nephi 17:21-22

You can read 1 Nephi 17:21-22 here.

Context and General Information

  • Laman and Lemuel are murmuring against Nephi.
  • They complain about their journey in the wilderness – that they suffered. They complain that instead of suffering in the wilderness, they could have been in Jerusalem and enjoying their possessions. They claim that “they might have been happy.”
  • They say that they know that the people of Jerusalem had been righteous. That they kept the statutes of the Lord.
  • Laman and Lemuel say that Lehi wrongly judged the people of Jerusalem and then led his family away because they would listen to him.

We Might Have Been Happy

Yesterday we studied a little bit about Laman and Lemuel and their response to discovering that Nephi was going to build a boat. You can read it here. They had a problem for every good solution. They had no solutions whatsoever, and then a list of ill-contrived complaints.

Complaint One – Suffering in the Wilderness for Years

Okay. So this legitimately happened. Even Nephi expressed:

“And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness;…” – 1 Nephi 17:1

Of course, Nephi’s response to the recognition of such trial is very different than Laman’s and Lemuel’s. Instead of complaining about these trials, Nephi is quick to notice the blessings that they experienced that helped them to bear these trials better. Nephi, even in the midst of trial, could find the tender mercies of the Lord. He could find reasons to be happy and rejoice.

And that begs the question – would Laman and Lemuel have been happy if they wouldn’t have suffered any afflictions? The answer is No.

Happiness does not mean that we live in a vacuum – free from any kind of trials or afflictions. This is such a basic thing to understand, and we must understand it, otherwise we will make the same mistake as Laman and Lemuel did. We will constantly think that the grass is greener over there…that if only our conditions were perfect, then we’d be happy.

This really could be the topic for an entire book, but what is coming to mind right now, is that we need to recognize there is a connection between sacrifice and joy. If you think of the most joyful experiences you have had, I bet that there was a measure of sacrifice that you endured to get there.

For example, I have joy in my children. And trust me – I’ve sacrificed for them. Even before they were born, I was sacrificing. Every good parent that has joy in their children has made a sacrifice.

I had joy when I crossed the finish line of a marathon. This required hours and miles of sacrifice.

I had joy when finishing a hike and viewing a magnificent vista. But the view didn’t come easy. It was work to get here!

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You can’t just drive here. You have to get out of your car and hike. But the walk is worth the crisp air, the pine scent, the blue skies, and the clear view.

Now, they hadn’t come to their promised land yet, so even though Nephi could see the tender mercies of the Lord, doesn’t mean that he had experienced the full measure of happiness that would make the sacrifices feel like nothing at all. He still felt the weight of the sacrifices. But he clung to hope – that the Lord would deliver them from their afflictions and trials, and that they would soon experience the joy of being at the promised land. They would experience the joy of knowing that they had crossed the wilderness and the many waters; they endured; and they were able to live freely and blessed by the Lord.

The happiness was yet to come. But the happiness would only come as they sacrificed and endured their trials well – not because they never faced a trial in the first place.

Complaint Two – We Might Have Enjoyed Our Possessions

This is an interesting one.

I suppose it is connected to the first complaint – being in the wilderness. They had to leave all of their comforts and possessions to go into the wilderness.

Not only that, but maybe this is also in reference to what they lost back in chapter 3 – when they tried to “buy” the plates of brass from Laban, and instead he stole all of their precious things and tried to kill them, to boot.

In any case, Laman and Lemuel complained because they haven’t been able to enjoy their possessions. And, as I said before, it’s kind of interesting.

There is something enjoyable about possessions. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. We have gotten rid of 95% of what we own for the moves we have made in the last few years. Yes, there are times when I miss some of my stuff.

But, for the most part, I have learned how little we really need. And while possessions can be enjoyed, and they can make life easier, I know that it isn’t our possessions that make us happy.

Complaint Three – We Might Have Enjoyed the Land of Our Inheritance

I can also see how this would be difficult. They left their land – their home, their friends, the conveniences, the culture – to wander in the wilderness. It would be hard.

By the way – even though Nephi never complains against God, he also never calls these experiences easy. They are afflictions. They are trials. But Nephi accepts these trials with the faith that 1) the Lord will strengthen him. 2) They will soon make it to the promised land. 3) The Promised land will be even better.

So – yeah – the trials are hard. It was hard for them to move away.

However, their assumption that they could have “enjoyed the land of their inheritance,” might be off. Their father would have been killed. Lehi fled for his life. I don’t think that Lehi would have been around for the Babylonian takeover of Jerusalem. He would have died at the hands of the Jews before that time came.

And who knows how this would have effected Laman and Lemuel. They would have been the son of a condemned prophet. I don’t think that they would have done much “enjoying” of their land of inheritance. I don’t think that they have a good idea of the reality of their situation back in Jerusalem.

Complaint Four – We Might Have Been Happy

Sounds like a nice argument. But just because Laman and Lemuel think and say this, doesn’t make it true.

Happy?! In 586 BC, about 14 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, Jerusalem was invaded and destroyed by the Babylonians. This destruction was recorded and described by the prophet Jeremiah in a book called Lamentations (doesn’t sound all that happy to me).

The condition of Jerusalem was deplorable when the Babylonian takeover happened. Many were killed. Others were forced into slavery. The people were distressed, forsaken, and utterly powerless. Children and babies wasted away – with hunger – in the streets of Jerusalem.

This is not the land of inheritance that Laman and Lemuel had in mind, but it was the reality.

I highly doubt that Laman and Lemuel would have liked this scenario. I doubt that they would have then repeated the refrain, “We might have been happy.” Because they wouldn’t have been happy.

***

The problem with murmuring and complaining, as Laman and Lemuel did, is that it will blind us to the truth.

And one more thing – do you really think, with the kind of attitude that Laman and Lemuel had, they would have ever been happy?

I don’t think it’s possible. I think that no matter what – even if the conditions of their lives were “perfect,” they would have found something to complain about. They would have created another fantasy-filled alternatives and then complained about perceived “wrongs.”

We need to learn from Laman’s and Lemuel’s mistakes. We need to remember the root of their murmuring:

“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” – 1 Nephi 2:12

We need to learn from them and then strive to be close to the Lord and understand His dealings. It is through understanding His dealings and accepting some of the sacrifices that come with His dealings that will lead us to true happiness and joy.

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Anger, Lies, and Persuasion – 1 Nephi 16:36-39

You can read 1 Nephi 16:36-39 here.

Context and General Information

  • Everyone starts murmuring against Lehi and Nephi. They say that they want to go back to Jerusalem.
  • Laman and Lemuel use this as an opportunity to make a wicked suggestion: to kill Lehi and Nephi.
  • Laman and Lemuel manipulate the truth and lie in order to persuade the others to kill Lehi and Nephi.
  • Thankfully the Lord steps in. He spoke to them and chastised them. They turned away their anger, repented of their sins, and then were once again blessed with food so that they did not perish.

Persuasion and Lies

The verses included in these verses have always been interesting to me. First of all, I’m interested in the idea of persuasion. I feel like it often has a negative connotation, but really it is neither positive or negative. It’s just a thing.

In the dictionary, we learn the real definition of persuade:

Persuade
1: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action
2 : to plead with : URGE – Merriam Webster

Persuasion is the simple act of trying to move another person. When we understand that this is the case, then we will also find that often people have many motives of persuasion and different ways to persuade others. These aren’t always good! This is where the bad stuff may come in.

We are taught in the Doctrine and Covenants that power or influence over others ought NOT to be maintained – by force. Instead of unrighteous dominion, Priesthood leaders (and probably other leaders, too), should lead others through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, etc.

Persuading others – to believe in the Savior Jesus Christ, to do good – is okay!

NOW.

We should look at it from the other side, too. We have to remember that there are forces at play trying to persuade us to do one thing or another. Yes, we have the prophets (ancient and modern) who are persuading us to come closer to Christ. We have good friends, teachers, leaders, and family members who are doing the same. There are good people around us who are persuading us to be better people because they love us and they want us to be happy.

Then, there are people who are trying to persuade us for other reasons. They want power, they are selfishly motivated. They don’t care about us – other than they need us for some reason or another. They need our money. They need our support. But they don’t intend to lift us up or see us happy!

We are surrounded by persuading voices. It is easy to think of politicians. But also commercials, sociopaths, internet trolls. Whatever.

In 1 Nephi, we read how Laman and Lemuel tried to persuade their brethren:

“And Laman said unto Lemuel and also unto the sons of Ishmael: Behold, let us slay our father, and also our brother Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren.

38 Now, he says that the Lord has talked with him, and also that angels have ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes, thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness; and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure. And after this manner did my brother Laman stir up their hearts to anger.” – 1 Nephi 16:37-38

I think that if we study this experience, we can learn how not to be persuaded by little jerks like Laman and Lemuel.

Heart Conditions

Remember what we read in the verse before:

“And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem.” – 1 Nephi 16:36

Notice the condition of the hearts of the brethren of Nephi. They were upset. They were murmuring. Because of their anger, the Spirit of the Lord wasn’t with them anymore. They were so irrational that they expressed the desire to return back to Jerusalem – despite the extreme hardships they endured to get to the point they were at!

The angered state is not a good state to be able to think spiritually or rationally, so if we are worked up into an anger, we are very easily persuaded by those who don’t have our best interest in mind. We are already stirred up. We aren’t seeing clearly. We need to fight to stay in a positive state – one that is open to the truth and the Spirit of the Lord.

This is really resonating with me right now. We are surrounded by this. There are news agencies and politicians banking on us losing our wits and then buying into anything they say by getting us angry.

Laman and Lemuel were perceptive enough to see their chance. Everyone was angry enough for them to voice their murderous idea – to kill Lehi (their father!) and Nephi (their Brother!)

Lies!

Laman and Lemuel don’t just stop there – with this idea to kill Lehi and Nephi. Instead, they give their reasons, which are laced with lies.

If the sons of Ishmael and others who were listening to this argument had their wits about them, I think that they would have seen the incredible irony in what Laman and Lemuel were saying versus the actual truth.

What Laman and Lemuel Said – Versus the Actual Truth

  1. Laman and Lemuel:“…Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren.”

    Actual Truth – Nephi didn’t seek to be a ruler or a teacher over his brothers. Nephi is loyal to God and willing to do what God asks Him. In fact, Laman and Lemuel knew exactly why Nephi was chosen to lead them. The angel told them this as Laman and Lemuel were beating Nephi and Sam with a rod:

    “…Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities?…” – 1 Nephi 3:29

    Laman and Lemuel are manipulating the truth to engender more anger and persuade the others to go along with their evil plan. Yes, it is true that Nephi has become a sort of leader over them. But it isn’t because he sought power over them. And they know it. They know that their own iniquities have disqualified them from being leaders themselves.

  2. Laman and Lemuel:“…Now, he says that the Lord has talked with him, and also that angels have ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes, thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness…”

    Actual Truth: – Nephi did see angels! They know this! They were there when an angel ministered to him! And this wasn’t the only time. An angel taught him the meaning of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. His brothers were in Lehi’s tent arguing. Nephi wasn’t there! And when Nephi returned, he was able to teach his brother the meaning of Lehi’s words. Laman and Lemuel once again are twisting the truth. They know that Nephi has borne testimony to them of these experiences.

    Not only that, but it wasn’t Nephi’s idea to go into the wilderness. It was Lehi who had received the commandment to go to the wilderness, and many people – other than Lehi – had also received a witness of this command.

  3. Laman and Lemuel:“… But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes,…”

    Actual Truth: This is almost getting comical. Laman and Lemuel are lying in the very moment! They are working cunning arts – taking advantage of people’s emotions! They are deceiving the eyes of the rest of the people in their party.

    If the others weren’t so blinded by their own murmuring, then one of them might have had the wits to say, “Wait a minute…aren’t you lying right now?! Didn’t you also see an angel?! Why are you trying to use your ‘cunning arts’ to deceive us and have us kill them?!

    Laman and Lemuel are guilty of exactly what they leverage against Nephi. It’s kind of disgusting. (And it happens all the time still…I won’t go into examples, but I’m sure you can think of some).

  4. Laman and Lemuel:“…and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure. …”

    Actual Truth: THIS IS WHAT LAMAN AND LEMUEL WANT TO DO! They want to become the rulers and leaders over the people so they can do with them according to their will and pleasure. They pretend like getting rid of Nephi and Lehi will grant them “freedom.” Instead, and everyone there should know this by now killing Nephi will ensure their death.

    They are in the wilderness. They are somewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. It isn’t a particularly hospitable climate. They aren’t a stone’s throw from Jerusalem. They have been traveling months, if not years by now.

    They have already nearly died from starvation in the wilderness, and they were only sustained by Nephi’s faith and wits – to make a bow and arrow and go hunt for food.

    Laman and Lemuel aren’t interested in the truth, though. They are interested in something else. They want their father and their brother eliminated so that they can have power. They can’t go out and say this, though. Instead, they decide to appeal to the anger of the people who are in distress.

    It’s all completely insane.

More Anger

We read:

“…And after this manner did my brother Laman stir up their hearts to anger.” – 1 Nephi 16:38

So – the sons of Ishmael (and others) were angry. Laman and Lemuel used this anger to persuade them of their evil idea. Laman and Lemuel were, unfortunately, effective. The people became angrier.

This is where we have to be careful. In their anger, which was based on a series of fallacies, they had decided that murder would be a good idea. They had been persuaded to break a pretty major commandment!

What Can We Learn from This?

Overall, the thought I keep having is that we need to do everything we can to be worthy of the Spirit. We need to do what we can not to be blinded by the deception of the Devil.

Marion G. Romney stated:

“We know that there is available to each of us the gift of the Holy Ghost—the power of revelation which embraces the gift of discernment by which we may unerringly detect the devil and the counterfeits he is so successfully foisting upon this gullible generation.” – Marion G. Romney

If we stay close to the Spirit, then we will not succumb to the Devil or those who have evil motives.

***

Laman, Lemuel, and the rest are extremely blessed. The Lord himself stopped this. He spoke to the entire party, chastised them – and they repented. If Laman and Lemuel had been able to go with their plan, then not only would Lehi and Nephi have died, but the rest of them would have, too.

They were dependent on the Lord. They didn’t even know where to go to find food – would they really have been able to make it back to Jerusalem. Once again, the righteousness of Nephi saves this group as they journey to the promised land.

And we can learn – we can learn not to let ourselves be deceived. We can do this by keeping our emotions in check – not allowing ourselves to get angry. We can do this by staying close to the Spirit so that we have the Spirit of discernment and charity.

From Mourning to Murmuring – 1 Nephi 16:34-36

You can read 1 Nephi 16:34-36 here.

Context and General Information

  • Ishmael died, and they buried him in “Nahom.” (Nahom means consolation, be sorry)
  • The daughters of Ishmael mourned exceedingly for the loss of their father. Their mourning turned to murmuring against Lehi. They murmured about being brought out to the wilderness, affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
  • They also murmured against Nephi and desire to return to Jerusalem.

From Mourning to Murmuring

In 1 Nephi, we read:

“And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness” – 1 Nephi 16:35

As I think about mourning, I can’t help but think of the words uttered by the Savior, Himself:

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

The Lord doesn’t promise that when we are keeping His commandments, then we will be freed of life’s trials. The Lord didn’t tell Lehi, Nephi, or anyone else in the family that the path to the promised land would be simple, easy, and free of difficulty.

I don’t know what the Lord said to Lehi, specifically, when he urged him to flee from Jerusalem.

I do know the personal experiences I’ve had, though. A few years ago, my husband and I were considering the idea of starting our own business. It was an idea that we had been throwing around for a while. So we did it. My husband has always wanted to do his own thing, rather than work in the corporate world. He started working on several ideas, and would do this after he came home from his corporate job.

Eventually, we got to the point where we needed to make a decision. He needed to spend more time on his business if it was going to really work. We had to make a decision – whether or not we should take the risk of him quitting his job and devoting his time to his business instead.

We discussed it, prayed, about it and felt it was the right thing to do. And this is the point that I want to bring up: When we made this decision – I remember – it was an evening after work. We were sitting on the couch discussing. We both were feeling a surge of energy – the energy that comes from the Spirit, when you are on the right track. We knew we should do it. And immediately, in my heart, I also felt the spirit prompt me with a feeling – remember the pattern…You will be pushed to your limit, but don’t worry – that’s when you’ll be delivered.

What does that mean? The Lord blessed me with an understanding before the challenges even came that the challenges would indeed come. He didn’t give us the warm feeling that we should start our business, and that everything would work out quickly and easily. We knew the pattern – it would be hard. We would be pushed and tested. But if we would rely on His Spirit with complete diligence, then – just when it seemed like failure was sure – we would be delivered. This is just how it works. There are examples of this pattern time and time again – both in the scriptures and in the world, at large.

ANYWAY.

What I’m trying to say is – I kind of wonder if Lehi had a prompting like this at some point – that the path would be hard, but if he would trust in the Lord, then he would surely make it to the promised land. Not sure.

The death of Ishmael was one of those low points. And back to what I was writing before. The Lord didn’t promise that He would shield Lehi and his family from the “low points.” Instead, we know that the Lord will strengthen us and comfort us – even as we navigate the difficulties of the path.

As Lehi taught to his son, Jacob, later on:

“Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Our afflictions can be consecrated for our gain, and I think that this fact is what helps us to be comforted when we mourn. We have no need to fear. I’m reminded of the scripture:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

In this scripture, Jesus is talking to His apostles. He has just washed their feet, and had the last supper with them. Judas has gone to betray Him. The Savior has taught the rest of the Apostles about “many mansions.” He has taught them that He is the Way. He has taught them to love one another. He has promised them the comforter. He has taught that He is the Vine. He has taught them about the Holy Ghost. He has taught them of His death and resurrection.

He will not be with them much longer, and they will have a mission to carry on His work without Him. It will not be easy. In the world, they will experience tribulation, but they shouldn’t fear – He has overcome the world.

So, yes, life in the wilderness for Lehi and his family was hard. And yes – they experienced a variety of afflictions. Hunger, thirst, heat, fatigue, and now death. I don’t think it would have been easy. Not even remotely easy.

But in the time of mourning, we need to seek the Lord. If we do, then we will have the opportunity to be comforted.

Receiving Comfort Is A Choice

The Lord truly honors our agency.

Even though He has promised that they that mourn will be comforted, He will not force His comfort. When we mourn, we can turn to Him and find comfort, or we can “refuse to be comforted.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:

“We, too, can “refuse to be comforted.” … Or, like Enoch, we can be intellectually meek enough to look and to accept the truths about God’s being there and about His personality and plans.” – Neal A. Maxwell

When we choose to accept the comfort of God during our times of mourning, the experience becomes holy. It may not be something we want to experience again, but we will see the benefit of it. We will be grateful for the blessings that came out of the harrowing experience.

However, if we choose not to accept the comfort of God during our times of mourning, then what usually follows is a hardening of our hearts…and murmuring.

This is exactly what happened with the daughters of Ishmael:

“…and they did murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, saying: Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger.

36 And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem.” – 1 Nephi 16:35-36

And notice the result of such murmuring. They desired to return to Jerusalem! Let’s think about that for a minute. We have been reading how they have been traveling, traveling, and traveling. In chapter 16, alone, we read that they travelled for the “space of many days” three different times. And this is much later on in their journey.

Going back to Jerusalem was not a very rational idea. Most likely, they would have died if they attempted it. Their inconsolable mourning, their choice to refuse comfort, and then their murmuring blinded their minds to rational ideas and risks! And how often does this happen to us?

How often do we get frustrated, do we murmur, and then we wish to take some action that will actually take us farther away from our goal?

Not only that, but this idea – to return to Jerusalem – how does it honor their father’s memory? How might Ishmael feel that He suffered and even died in the wilderness, and after all of His sacrifices, his children turned around and went back to Jerusalem?!?! Where they would die!?!?!? If they would have gone back, then Ishmael’s death would have been in vain.

Murmuring…once again, we see that there is no point to it. It is a complete waste of time. There isn’t a single advantage. It blinds us, it makes us stupid, it separates us from God and from comfort and happiness.

So – we can learn from this experience. We can choose, when we mourn, to accept the comfort that God promises to give. We can choose to put our burdens on the Lord and by coming unto Him and yoking ourselves to Him. We can choose to allow Him to work the miracle of turning our afflictions into blessings that strengthen and refine us.

Ye Would Not Murmur – 1 Nephi 16:1-6

You can read 1 Nephi 16:1-6 here.

Context and General Information

  • After Nephi finished speaking to his brothers, they said that what he declared was hard for them – more than they could bear.
  • Nephi admitted that he knew that he spoke hard things against the wicked, according to the truth.
  • Nephi then exhorted his brothers to choose a righteous path, then they wouldn’t murmur and complain that the words of righteousness are hard for them.
  • Nephi’s brothers humbled themselves – so much so that Nephi even started to have great hope for them.
  • All these things were done while they dwelt in the valley Lemuel.

Ye Would Not Murmur

There are a lot of good nuggets of truth in this short scripture passage, but the one that keeps standing out to me is Ye Would Not Murmur because of the truth.

It has me thinking of murmuring. So – let’s figure it out for a second.

First, I thought I’d look in the Bible Dictionary…Nothing.

So then I checked the Guide to the Scriptures. There IS an entry for murmur…so let’s see what it says!

“To grumble and complain against God’s purposes, plans, or servants.” – Guide to the Dictionary: Murmur

It’s pretty simple.

I also noticed that murmuring is related to rebellion. Just for kicks, let’s read what The Guide to the Scriptures says about rebellion.

“Defying or opposing the Lord, including refusing to follow His chosen leaders and willfully disobeying His commandments.” – Guide to the Scriptures: Rebellion

Yikes! We don’t want to get into rebellion territory. Which is why it is important to understand murmuring. Murmuring often (but perhaps not always) leads to rebellion. On the other hand, someone who is rebelling against God will also always murmur against Him.

Okay. Let’s keep studying this.

So – a reminder – Murmuring: To grumble and complain against God’s purposes, plans, or servants.

Purposes

How might we complain or grumble against God’s purposes?

I suppose we should take a moment right now to remind ourselves of what God’s purposes are. I’ve done a little bit of research – in the Bible Dictionary, the Topical Guide, etc. And it led me to the scripture that I was already thinking of…

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39

This is what we know. This is what has been revealed to us. Ultimately, the Lord’s purpose is helping US to have immortality and eternal life. That is a big-time macro level view of God’s purpose. But He also has “micro” purposes that we aren’t always aware of…

For example, as we read in 1 Nephi 9, Nephi was commanded to make two sets of plates. The larger one (which was the one that he was already making) was to contain the history of his people. The smaller one (which was the one that God commanded him to make in addition to the large plates) contained the ministry of Nephi and the things that were of most spiritual value.

It wasn’t all that easy for Nephi to write another set of records. I mean, it’s so easy to overlook this fact! I’ve got like 3 blogs. I don’t know how many journals. I can type around 80 words a minute. Writing more! hahaha! That is not that difficult. It would be harder for me to be commanded to write less!

Nephi didn’t have a laptop, a journal with fun and colorful pens. He didn’t have a typewriter. He wasn’t writing on a scroll of paper with a quill pen and ink. He was engraving his writings on metal! This would have been hard to do.

Not only would it have been hard, but the Lord didn’t exactly tell him why he needed to do it. Nope. The Lord simply commanded Nephi to do this thing. And Nephi explains:

“Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.” – 1 Nephi 9:5

Even though Nephi didn’t understand God’s purpose, he didn’t murmur against it! It’s remarkable. There are times when we do understand God’s purpose, yet we murmur. Nephi didn’t know God’s purpose, nor did he murmur against it. Instead, Nephi rooted his faith in what he knew about his Heavenly Father: the purpose would be wise.

We have the advantage of hindsight, and we know the Lord’s purposes. The first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon (comprising of the record of Lehi, Nephi, and the others who kept historical records up until King Mosiah) were lost and destroyed. But we aren’t completely void of these early records. Instead, Nephi started writing that second record – of the ministry. He trusted in God’s purposes without grumbling. He obediently began a new record, and taught those who inherited these plates to record the ministry of the people. And because of His obedience, we still have his words.

I think that you could argue, still, that God’s purpose was our immorality and eternal life – that is why we need scriptures! To know how to inherit what God has. So it is probably best to keep this major purpose in mind, and feel confident that the little things – the little commandments – will serve a great purpose.

One last thing on purpose…what if we murmur against that purpose? The immortality and eternal life of man…I suppose it happens sometimes. I suppose that there are people who murmur against this beautiful purpose. Maybe they think it is foolishness – that there is no such thing as immortality or eternal life. Maybe they have such a hard time understanding God that they can’t even begin to grasp that He would be a God with a purpose.

Murmuring against God’s purpose probably doesn’t apply to most people. Most of us want to be happy! Most of us don’t want to be cast off from all light and life and joy. Most of us hear of God’s entire purpose, work, even glory, and we are filled with comfort and joy. I mean, hearing that God wants to bless me with His greatest blessings fills me with comfort and peace! I bet most people feel the same way when they learn God’s purposes.

Why would people think of murmuring against this purpose? I suppose it’s the same thing we’ve read before:

“…And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” – 1 Nephi 2:12

Okay. I need to move on.

Plans

So, the next thing that we might grumble or complain about are God’s plans. I think that this is where the purposes of God are put into action. So, we may murmur against His beautiful plan – outright. It’s beautiful and hopeful!

But we forget that the purpose can’t be accomplished without plans and execution. And that is where we sometimes start to murmur.

Let’s think of another scriptural example.

When Nephi and his brothers went to obtain the plates of brass from Laban, they didn’t succeed after the first attempt. They were pretty depressed, even, when Nephi thought of a plan. They returned to Jerusalem, got all of their goods and precious things, and then approached Laban to essentially buy the plates. He refused. Laban chased them out of town and robbed them of all of their possessions in the meantime. Laman and Lemuel didn’t take this failure well. We read:

“And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman. Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.” – 1 Nephi 3:28

Laman and Lemuel had already been murmuring about this entire exercise – to get the plates. And yet, somehow they were cajoled into doing it. Then…after two attempts – they still don’t have the plates, have lost all of their precious possessions, they nearly lost their lives, they are being hunted by a powerful man in the city, and they have no more hope. How will they get the plates? Unfortunately, it’s not all that surprising that they murmured.

They aren’t the only ones who have experienced this in life – choosing to obey God’s commandments, only to be faced with extreme difficulty and adversity.

It’s easy to forget the God that created us, and murmur against Him. When we murmur against His plans and commandments for our lives, we are also murmuring against His purpose. We forget that these plans and commandments and are given to us so we can succeed – in receiving immortality and eternal life. When we murmur at the onset of afflictions, we forget that God is capable of consecrating our afflictions for our gain. (back to that purpose again).

and finally…

Servants

This one can be the hardest, in my opinion.

It’s one thing to trust in God and even to trust in His plans. God is perfect. His purpose – it’s amazing. His plans, though difficult, have purpose, and He will strengthen us to overcome them.

But his servants…well they’re human.

It’s easy for us to judge them and murmur against them because they aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They don’t have the big picture that God has. They may not have as much intelligence or experience as we do.

Not only that, but we are taught:

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 121:39-40

Sad Experience! It’s the nature of almost all men to exercise unrighteous dominion. Yet God lets us, feeble humans, serve Him in so many capacities.

So – we need to sustain and love our leaders, rather than murmur against them. Does this mean that we need to blindly obey our priesthood leaders, point blank? Not really. It probably means that we need to understand their true roles, and then delineate between what they do and do not have dominion over.

But we can still sustain them in their calling, even when they might step on our toes. We can forgive, still make our choices, and still even support them to do what is in their mantel to do.

It is what God has asked us to do.

And, if we trust His purpose, then we’ll trust His plan. If we trust His purpose and plan, then we will not murmur against those whom He has called to execute His plans.

This is really short, and I’m sure that we could write so much more about this. I don’t want to say that all leaders are perfect! They aren’t! I don’t think that we should just blindly say, “we must obey the priesthood!” Because there have been times when I’ve had leaders that exercised unrighteous dominion. There have been times when I’ve needed to raise my voice – not in anger or in contention, but lovingly and persuasively, to show that I truly sustained my leader – we are on the same team with the same purpose.

I know that it isn’t always black and white. I know it gets grey, but I also know that there is a way for us to sustain our leaders, even when they aren’t perfect. If it wasn’t possible, then the Lord would have organized our church differently.

***

I’ve got to wrap this up. We don’t want to murmur! I don’t want to murmur! It is a sure path to apostasy.

So – what’s the antidote? As usual – humility. Prayer. Trusting in God. When we know the God that created us, we will believe Him. We will adore, praise and worship Him. We won’t even think to murmur because we love Him.

***

Thanks for reading today…I didn’t have time to proofread. Please don’t judge me!!! And remember, this is a short look at a huge subject. What I’ve written isn’t complete. It’s just a starting point.

Murmuring – Not for the Joyful (1 Nephi 2:12)

“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” – 1 Nephi 2:12

I like thinking about happiness and joy a lot. In fact, as I read the Book of Mormon this time through, I’m focusing on happiness and joy.

This verse is not directly about happiness nor is it about joy. But it can give you an insight on both.

Personally, when I think of “murmuring,” it doesn’t seem like a particularly joyful attribute. Think about the truly happy and joyful people you know. And then think of how often they complain.

If you’re like me, then you’re coming up short.

Following this logic then, we can deduce that Laman and Lemuel probably weren’t very happy people. They show this lack of joy through their murmuring attitude.

And why did they murmur?

Because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

Every once in a while a single verse packs a big punch. This verse is one of them. We learn a secret to life in this verse: if we want to murmur and complain less, then get to know God.

I know that this principle is true. Murmuring and the lack of joy that it indicates is really a signal of a much bigger problem: not knowing our Father in Heaven. Conversely, when we know God, we can go through temptations and trials without murmuring. This is because we know God, we trust Him, and we trust that in whatever we are experiencing, we will be blessed. We trust in the power of the Atonement – and that through the power of the Atonement all that is unjust in this world will be made right.