We live in a crazy world filled with daily pressures that change on a dime. Each time I stumble, I look to the scriptures or Church history for the strength I need to continue. I remember to kneel in prayer and offer sincere humility in requesting forgiveness for my daily trespasses. But there is a a passage of scripture known as Nephi’s Psalm (2 Nephi 4:15-35) that speaks so deeply to my heart that I am emboldened each time I read it.
2 Nephi 4: 15 And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.
16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
As I open the pages of the scriptures, I feel the strength and power of the men and women who sacrificed all they had so that these revelations from God could be here for me today. My spirit recognizes truth and rejoices in it. It is at this time — as I read the scriptures and ponder as Nephi pondered, when I ask my questions and convey my thoughts in prayer — that further truth comes.
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
Nephi, a prophet of God, followed every command given him of the Lord.
When he was commanded to return to Jerusalem and retrieve the record of the Jews and the family genealogy from Laban, he did so, regardless of personal cost. When he was commanded to build a boat, he simply asked where to go to get the materials. When his father, Lehi, preached of visions, dreams, and new revelation received from God, Nephi went to Heavenly Father himself and asked to see what his father had seen.
It didn’t matter what the Lord asked of him; he did it. He suffered with wicked older brothers who attempted to kill him numerous times. Even in the midst of receiving their beatings, he served and praised the Lord.
And this valiant prophet of God proclaims, “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. This gives me strength. If even a prophet of God is worried about his behavior, then I can get up and keep moving forward.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
Indeed, if the natural man craves wickedness, (although I really can’t imagine that Nephi did anything all that terrible) then each of us must turn to God. In this passage we learn that the Lord is the antidote to those cravings. If we will only turn to the heavens in fervent prayer, we will find such knowledge, recognition, and beauty. That the desire to sin will begin to fade. If we continue to immerse ourselves in the ways of God rather than the pale and deceitful imitations of the world, peace will permeate our souls. In Nephi’s words, “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.”
Awake and remember who you are. You are not simply Jack, Joe, Jane or Emily . . . you are a child of a divine God who loves you. This mortal probation is your time to shine. It is your time to conquer and triumph over the weaknesses of the flesh and to stand tall as a son or daughter of God. It is your time to emulate your Savior and bring as many brothers and sisters home to the Father as you can. Not with coercion, but with the love, using Jesus Christ as our Exemplar.
Jesus Christ descended from His heavenly throne in order to be born into mortality. His mission: “. . . to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).” You mattered so much that He willingly paid the price for all mankind that we might gain the ultimate eternal reward — if we are only willing to work for it. He hung on that cross atop Golgotha and stayed there until it was whispered, “It is finished.” The heavens wept. The price was paid at a great cost to Him whom we all dearly loved, but it was paid. Death no longer had power over the children of God. Sin was no longer a permanent imprisonment. We could return to our Father in Heaven in all righteousness, if we so chose. Because of this, we can now be held in the arms of our Savior, where we hope to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
Yes, Nephi . . . Yes to every child of God. He will. But you have to ask and then you have to act.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I bask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I everlasting God. Amen.
Does it mean nothing bad will happen to us? No. Does it mean we will bear these burdens better, that the load will be lighter and that we will be strengthened by the Savior? Oh yes, that is precisely what it means.
Nephi’s Psalm (2 Nephi 4:15-35) hangs on the wall of my office to remind me to constantly keep my eyes turned heavenward and to trust that the Father knows best.