There is a division among the people and they leave the prophet and go their separate ways. Nephi stands alone and is weighed down with much sorrow for their sins.
Have you ever felt like you were left standing alone?
I know I have. Often in this crazy, confused, incendiary, and political climate today, I feel alone. I’m not really. But when family members and good friends look down on me and judge me for believing differently than they do, it’s easy to feel alone.
Nephi begins the long walk back to his home, alone. And while he walks, he ponders the things God has shown him.
And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites…and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold a voice came unto him saying:”Helaman 10:3
Before we get to the voice, let’s reflect upon what he was dealing with. Nephi had just given the people several signs from God, trying to convince them to repent. A few believed, but most were divided. They were either angry with him or disbelieving of him. He is cast down because of their hard-heartedness.
Have you ever been cast down because of what’s happening around you…or to you?
It’s not a fun place to be. He was alone. He probably felt rejected and hated. He may have harbored doubts about whether any of his actions would do any good. But he didn’t wallow. He pondered. And there is power in pondering upon the things of God.
Reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully.”Henry B. Eyring – Serve with the Spirit, Nov 2010
Devin Durrant suggested we ponderize a verse of scripture each week. Why?
As you reflect on your selected verse each week, words and phrases will be written on your heart. Words and phrases will also be written on your mind. In other words, memorization will take place easily and naturally. But the primary goal of ponderizing is to provide an uplifting place for your thoughts to go—a place that keeps you close to the Spirit of the Lord.”
…we are living in a time of ever-spreading evil. We cannot just accept the status quo and be fed ugly words and sinful visuals almost everywhere we turn and do nothing in response. We must fight back. When our minds are filled with uplifting thoughts and images, when we “always remember him,” there is no room left for filth and trash.”Devin G. Durrant, My Heart Pondereth Them Continually, Nov 2015
Nephi was cast down, but he didn’t stay there. Being cast down in spirit is not a good place to take up residence.
Whenever darkness fills our minds, we may know that we are not possessed of the Spirit of God…When we are filled with the Spirit of God we are filled with joy, with peace, and with happiness, no matter what our circumstances may be; for it is a spirit of cheerfulness and of happiness.”George Q. Cannon, in Brian H. Stuy, comp., Collected Discourses Delivered by Pres. Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, & Others, 5 vols. (1987-92), 4:137
So, Nephi pondered upon the things of God and probably pondered on the people’s responses. He probably pondered on what he could do more to help them, since apparently the signs hadn’t worked.
Good people never stop pondering ways to share God’s light, even when they are rejected.
Mary, mother of Jesus, was quietly observant of Her divine Son all his life and “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Because of the beautiful things she pondered, I imagine her to be a good woman who served others and emulated her Son’s example in all that she did.
When Jesus taught the Nephites and Lamanites in the Americas after His resurrection, he gave them this piece of advice:
Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again. (3 Nephi 17:3)
As Nephi is pondering, he hears a voice that says:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.”Helaman 10:4
I love how the Lord praised him for being unweary in declaring God’s word. A friend recently bemoaned how hopeless she felt in this wicked world with so many good people believing lies and seeming to be deceived by false saviors and causes that lead them away from Christ. She sort of threw up her hands and said: “I feel like good will never win. There’s just too much evil and it seems to be gaining ground. Nothing I do matters.”
It’s easy to feel cast down like that. Maybe even Nephi felt hopeless for a moment after the people didn’t believe him.
Yet, we must never lose hope. Even if we stand for truth by ourselves. Even if we try to convince someone to follow Christ and they choose not to. Even if we are shunned or mocked or persecuted for our beliefs. Even if we are knocked down again and again and no positive change seems to happen because of our efforts. We get up and keep doing. With unwearyingness.
God will deliver us eventually. His deliverance might not come as quickly as we hope or even in the ways we hope. But He has promised that He will deliver His people, so if we follow Him and feel cast down or alone, we must not give up hope in Him. He never breaks His promises.
Don’t fear/ Don’t be selfish
Another way God praised Nephi was for not fearing men or doing what he wanted. Nephi did what God wanted, even though He asked hard things of Him. Following God requires great sacrifices. Nephi gave up the judgment seat. He became unpopular. But he obeyed. He wasn’t selfish. He didn’t ignore the hard things he was asked to do and choose the comfortable path of ease. He chose to sacrifice and do whatever God required of Him.
- Am I as willing to do what God asks of me?
- Am I brave enough to ask what He wants me to do?
The Lord blesses Nephi forever for his unwearyingness. He gives him spiritual gifts of being 1) mighty in word and deed, 2) mighty in faith, 3) and mighty in works. He basically tells him anything he asks to be done will be done according to his prayers, because he has proven that he won’t ask contrary to God’s will.
That is a high compliment from God.
God gives him “power that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.” (7)
When we reach the point Nephi had reached, where we always want to do God’s will, not our own, and we have proved this time and time again, God starts to trust us. He identifies Himself to Nephi and gives him the sealing power on earth, a sacred gift and trust. God only gives this to those who prove they will not misuse this power.
Hope to face challenge head-on
Nephi had been cast down and heading home, thinking his task was done. But now, God has blessed him with additional spiritual gifts and sealing power from heaven.
He turns himself about and heads back to the city. No longer is he cast down. No longer is he alone. He knows God is by his side, and his faith in Jesus Christ and his unwearyingness to serve Him pushes him to seek the crowds again to preach repentance one more time.
Yes, they’ve rejected him.
And they might reject him again.
But he doesn’t fear rejection. He loves God and wants to share the saving power of Christ’s Atonement with his people. He uses that unwearyingness again, preaching and warning every group of people he can. He, again, doesn’t meet with much success.
…behold, they did still harden their hearts and would not hearken unto his words; therefore they did revile against him, and did seek to lay their hands upon him that they might cast him into prison.”Helaman 10:15
The power of God is with him though, and The Spirit takes him out of the midst of each violent group and leads him to the next city and the next, sharing God’s invitation to repent to everyone he meets, until he has shared it with all the people of Nephi.
The people have free agency to choose, and they don’t choose to accept Nephi’s invitation from the Lord. They begin to contend with each other and divide. This division leads to war among themselves and they start slaying each other with the sword.
We have lots of contention today. And way too much division. A family, community, Church group, nation, and world divided cannot be strong. Division makes us weak. Name-calling leads to hatred. Hatred leads to being willing to slay our brothers and sister, with words first. But I believe if this hate isn’t checked and repented of, word fights escalate into physical fights and rioting.
- What Christlike action can I take in my own life to unite, not divide?
- Can I use my words more carefully and prayerfully in person and online, so that I don’t allow them to become weapons to hurt, but instead make them tools to lift and inspire?
- Can I do better at listening to the opinions and beliefs of others that I don’t agree with, so I can see their side (even if I don’t agree with it)?