BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” As part of their undergraduate coursework, BYU students take multiple semesters of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.
Book of Mormon: Patiently Awaiting Deliverance
Have you ever struggled with something with no relief in sight? Despite your best efforts, does nothing seem to change? Oh good, I’m not the only one. In fact, you and I aren’t the only ones, either. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi has a similar, if much worse, predicament in chapter 1 of 3 Nephi.
The year is 1 AD. For centuries, prophets have prophesied among the Nephites (an ancient people living in the Americas) that Jesus Christ will come into the world. Five years earlier, another prophet, Samuel, told them that this sign would accompany His birth:
For behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day. Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign. (see Helaman 14:3-4)
The Nephites have been anxiously awaiting this sign (which was to be given among their nation, not in Jerusalem) ever since, but it still hasn’t happened. The wicked part of the people finally decide they’ve had enough and issue an ultimatum: The sign must happen by a certain day or they will execute all who believed it would come.
Nephi begins praying that the Lord will deliver His people from such a fate. Time passes. The appointed day arrives, and still the Lord has done nothing. I’m sure Nephi, who has undoubtedly been praying his heart out every chance he gets, is a little discouraged. Doesn’t the Lord care about His people? Won’t He do something to deliver His people? Finally, the Lord speaks to Nephi:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world. (see 3 Nephi 1:13)
The sign is given, the Lord’s people are saved, and those who wanted to kill the believers fall down dead as doornails.
Alright, time for a 21st-century application. Just as the Lord made His people wait until the last minute for deliverance, we are often required to do the same. Perhaps we need to learn patience. Maybe we need to increase our faith in Him. There might be something we need to learn about ourselves, about Him, or both. There are a plethora of reasons, but they all share a common motive: love.
God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that He is willing to give us challenges to overcome so we can grow and progress. He loves us enough to make us wait, even when we sincerely ask in faith for our trials to stop sooner than later.
I have worked through hard times and felt the Lord’s love as He has assured me things will get better. I have also been delivered after learning the lessons He had for me. I’ve experienced this pattern countless times thus far in life, and I expect that I will until the day I die. Though at times it’s unpleasant, I’ve made progress toward becoming more like Him.
Let us trust that God knows what He’s doing. Let us pray in faith for His help, even if our problems don’t immediately vanish. For help will come, and in time, we will overcome. I know and testify that this is true.
It’s a wonderful day to be alive!