2 Nephi 4
Heroes desire to rejoice but they also experience times like Nephi and many of us do when their hearts weep and their souls “linger in the valley of sorrow…and [their] strength slacken[s].” Nephi experienced what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called “a psychic blow” after his father’s death and the renewed onslaught of his brothers’ anger. In his talk, “Like a Broken Vessel,” Elder Holland reminded us, “In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself….As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face ‘depletion depression,’ make the requisite adjustments.”
Nephi felt these rising temperatures and wrote some of his feelings, frustrations, and desires in an effort to make the requisite adjustments to bolster his spirit, his mind, and his body so that he could press forward in his duty as the leader of his family. Elder Holland suggested, “let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!” Nephi took time to remember with gratitude: “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. He hath filled me with his love….He hath confounded mine enemies….he hath heard my cry” (2 Nephi 4:20-23).
Because the Lord had helped him before, Nephi trusted in Him and asked the Lord to “clear my way.” The depression Nephi was experiencing might have felt like a “crater in the mind so deep,” as Elder Holland referred to it, that Nephi pleaded with the Lord to “make a way for mine escape.” Nephi also asked the Lord to “deliver me out of the hand of mine enemies” and “make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?” (2 Nephi 4:31). I think Nephi may have been referring more to the enemies in our minds, Satan and his followers, who put thoughts of doubt, despair, guilt, and shame in our minds in an effort to “destroy [our] peace” and make us feel like we “droop in sin.” If Satan can get this to happen, then we have a harder time accomplishing the great things the Lord has sent us here to do because our mental and physical strength is weakened (see 2 Nephi 4:26, 29). Nephi’s request that he “may shake at the appearance of sin” is like us asking the Lord to help us recognize those negative, harmful thoughts the minute they approach so that we can bar their entry by putting true thoughts in our minds instead.
When we are in that deep, dark crater of our mind Elder Holland said “we may feel we are ‘like a broken vessel,’…(Psalm 31:12). [However,] we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed.” Even though we may be weak and broken, God is strong and solid and His love is sure. He is our “rock.” We must choose to put our faith and trust in Him rather than choosing to trust the doubts and despair trying to get root in our minds and hearts (see 2 Nephi 4:34). Elder Holland reminded, “Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend….Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart.” Then he quoted President Monson who said regarding our Father’s love: “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there” (“We Never Walk Alone,” 2013).
Elder Holland asked then answered, “So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love?…Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead” (see Matt. 26:39).
Nephi desired to rejoice. He wanted to feel the peace and joy he had felt before. He choose to rejoice as he faithfully pursued the time-tested devotional practice of prayer and poured out his heart to the Lord to bring His Spirit in greater abundance to his soul that he might be filled with hope, that his burdens might be lightened, and that he might be encircled in “the robe of [God’s] righteousness” or as his father, Lehi, put it earlier, that he might be “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). Nephi patiently worked and waited and hoped for that rejoicing to come. We will see in 2 Nephi 5 how he was able to live after the manner of happiness.
*How do you respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love?
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