BYU student letters and reflections on scripture: The faith of Nephi
This is another post in our BYU Student letters and scripture reflections series. This letter was written by a student named Luke.
Dear Aunt Marilyn,
I hope all is well with you. I think of you often and hope that the Lord continues to bless and guide you in your life. I’m also very glad for the interest that you have had in learning about the church. I think that is wonderful and know that it is the right thing to do. I have been so blessed myself for the direction and guidance that the Lord has given me and feel very peaceful because I know that his promises are true — that he will be there in our times of need, that he understands our needs, wants, and pains, and that the only thing that he desires more than anything is that we can have happiness and joy in our lives. Miracles are real and the strength and power I receive in the gospel is without a doubt a constant and consistent miracle that never stops flowing. I would like to share with you something that I learned while studying the Book of Mormon this last week that I thought was powerful.
I was reading in Helaman chapter 9 in the Book of Mormon and was very impressed by a comparison that, although not stated as such, compares the differences between faith in Jesus Christ and faith in Satan and his power. In this part of the Book of Mormon there are some very interesting events in play. The Nephite people have become very wicked to the point that the “chief judge”, one of the central government leaders, gives up his position of leadership and goes to preach the gospel. After some time of teaching the gospel and some success in parts of the land, he finds himself, and even more importantly the message he is sent to carry, rejected by many. In this very trying and difficult situation Nephi prays for success in preaching the gospel and coincidentally finds a group of people gathered watching him. I personally love this because I can imagine the Lord thinking about how it would really make Nephi’s day to have such an immediate response to his desire to share the gospel. Nephi, being the incredible person he is, immediately takes advantage of the opportunity and begins teaching them and warning them of the consequences of the decisions that they are making. In this moment he even is led to tell the people that the “chief judge” had been murdered. As you can imagine this comes as quite a surprise to those listening and the send some of those listening to check it out and see if he really is a prophet. Much to their surprise they arrive at the place of the chief judge and find him dead.
To cut to the chase a little those who are mad at Nephi for preaching the truth decide to accuse Nephi of having planned the murder of the chief judge because of course, how else would he have known? I can only imagine the thoughts of Nephi when suddenly he is being tied up and taken to be judged for having only spoken the truth that God himself inspired him to say. Perhaps many of us would begin to question at this point if what we felt inspired to do was right. I believe, however, that Nephi had a higher level of faith than this and was ready to accept whatever the Lord wanted him to do, whether he would be delivered or perhaps even accused and condemned falsely. The story continues that after being accused he is inspired to tell them what really happened. He tells them that it was the brother of the chief judge who had committed the murder and that they should do the following to confirm what he had said was true. First, he told them that they should ask if Nephi had conspired with them to murder his brother and that he would say “no.” Then ask him if he murdered his brother at which he would act surprised and shocked at their accusation but would be fearful; at which they should examine his cloak and find blood on it. Telling him that they knew he had murdered his brother Nephi prophesied that he would admit that he had committed the murder and testify that Nephi knew nothing of it unless God had told him. And thus it happened as Nephi had said.
What I find so incredible and amazing about this story is the difference between the faith of Nephi and, although in many ways quite opposite, the faith of Seantum, the brother of the chief judge. When Nephi was accused he had faith and had no need to worry about the outcome. He trusted the Lord and knew that the Lord would provide. Seantum, on the other hand, had faith. He believed that he would not be discovered. In fact, I believe that Satan had been whispering to him the whole time that he conspired and murdered his brother that he would never be discovered. Seantum would never have murdered his brother unless by some means he believed that he could get away with it. His faith, however, proved fateful.
I know that the Lord can always be trusted. I know that “he watches over his own.” Unlike the experience of Seantum, there is no need to fear. When we are on the Lord’s side we are promised as were the Israelites that he will “fight our battles.” My sincere desire is that we can all have this determination and faith at all times.
I wish you the best and hope to talk soon.