Insight from Nephi: Combat your afflictions by counting your blessings

I want to share something that impressed me the other day.

The first verse of the Book of Mormon reads:

“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.”

I bolded the first part that stood out to me. Gospel scholars think Nephi wrote this decades after it happened, so what afflictions might he be talking about? Here are a few we know from what he recorded in the scriptures:

  1. He was nearly murdered four times by his brothers.

    Nephi saw "many afflictions" at the hands of his brothers.

    Nephi saw “many afflictions” at the hands of his brothers.

  2. Laban tried to kill him and his brothers.
  3. He is compelled by the spirit to kill Laban, a true test of his obedience which I think had to be hard.
  4. His family endured 8 difficult years in the wilderness, including that time when he broke his bow.
  5. He experienced great opposition when commanded to build a ship.
  6. During their journey to the promised land, his brothers tied him up and they were all nearly swallowed up in the ocean.

It’s a good list but probably far from complete. Who knows what else happened when they reached the promised land and in the years that followed?

In spite of his “many afflictions,” Nephi didn’t complain and fall in with his brothers. Rather, he expressed gratitude and focused on his blessings from Lord:

“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.”

Not only does that tell us a little about the kind of person Nephi is, but it’s a good example for us when facing life’s trials. This message reminds me of No. 241 in the LDS Hymn book, “Count Your Blessings.”

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, shared a similar message in his April 2014 general conference message, “Grateful in Any Circumstances“:

“How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.”

This has been a timely message for me. My life doesn’t compare to some of the things Nephi experienced, but this has reminded me to be more grateful for the many blessings in my life. No matter what any of us are going through, may we always remember to take inventory of our wonderful blessings and acknowledge the Lord’s hand in our lives. As we do, “angels will attend,” the hymn reads, and they will “help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”

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Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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