Nephi was commanded by the Lord to build a ship. Though he didn’t know how, he willingly worked to build the boat. After Nephi constructed the ship, amid his brothers’ mocking and ridicule, the family boarded it to make their journey across the ocean. While at sea, some of the family members made “merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness” (1 Nephi 18:9).
When Nephi attempted to speak to his family in soberness they became angry with him. So angry that Laman and Lemuel took Nephi and bound him with cords. They bound him so tightly it caused his wrists and ankles to swell. Once Nephi was bound, the liahona stopped working and a great storm developed insomuch that it beat back the ship for three days.
Nephi witnessed all of this, but was powerless because he was bound. Yet, he said, “Nevertheless, I 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” (1 Nephi 18:16). This statement illustrates the character of the prophet Nephi.
As I read this account, I realized how applicable that statement is to my own life. How have I reacted to afflictions? Have I kept my faith in God?
When one of my daughters was born, we had to return to the hospital the day after we brought her home because she had a fever. While we drove to the ER I desperately prayed that she’d be okay and we’d be able to go right back home. As soon as the ER doctors heard she had a fever we were rushed back to a room and she was immediately hooked up to an IV. An ER doctor asked permission to give her a spinal tap because he believed she had meningitis. During the procedure, I prayed the doctor would be able to find what he needed. He didn’t. He couldn’t extract any fluid.
I prayed she wouldn’t have to stay in the hospital. She did.
I prayed the doctors would know what was wrong. They didn’t.
I prayed she wouldn’t need any more antibiotics. She did.
I prayed the nurses could find a vein for her IV so she wouldn’t need a pick line in her neck. They couldn’t.
When the doctor came to tell us she’d have to be life-flighted to another hospital, I felt broken. I was afraid to pray because up to that point, the opposite of what I prayed for seemed to be what happened. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I had a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
The pediatrician who had unsuccessfully tried to do a second spinal tap on her asked for permission to try a third time. He told us that if we could extract enough spinal fluid and it was clear we could rule out meningitis and we wouldn’t have to fly her to the other hospital. I was at a crossroads. I knew, deep down, that Heavenly Father answered prayers and couldn’t understand why he didn’t seem to hear mine. I had to decide if I was going to murmur because of my afflictions or put my faith in prayer.
I decided to pray. Moments after we finished kneeling on the hospital room floor, the doctor entered with a big smile. He’d extracted three vials worth of fluid and it was clear. She did not have to be air-lifted and the next day we discovered she had a urinary tract infection and could be treated with a simple antibiotic by mouth.
Unfortunately, I have murmured at other times. I’ve complained, usually about insignificant things, about things that don’t matter. I need to be like Nephi. I want to be like Nephi. I want to have that complete faith that when afflictions arise, and they most certainly will, I will, “ . . . look unto my God, and . . . praise him all the day long; and . . . not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (1 Nephi 18:16).
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