One of the things I love most about the Book of Mormon, is how I’ve been able to feel God’s love for me as I’ve read it’s sacred words.
Six years ago, I was separated and divorced. It was a difficult time. I had been married in the temple to a return-missionary. We had two children. I thought that we were on track. On the outside, everything seemed to be good. What I didn’t realize was that my ex-husband had another secret life, and it wasn’t a good one. I like to joke: my experience in my first marriage was like being married to Tiger Woods…minus the money. Anyways, the point is: when I was 26, I found myself living in my mom’s house: trying to find a way to pick up the pieces and also support two beautiful girls.
It was hard.
But, as hard as it was, throughout my time as a single, working, mom – I was sustained with hope. I was helped by a loving bishop, comforted by great friends, and above all, filled with the love of God.
This scripture was especially relevant to me:
” 4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” – Ether 12:4
I know that this scripture is about a future world – in the eternities, but this scripture also gave me so much comfort immediately. As I exercised my faith in the Savior, I was filled with hope for a better world. I prayed that this “better world” would come before the end of my mortal life, but I knew that no matter when I was able to experience a better world, I would experience it! This hope – created an anchor in my life to the Lord, and, somehow I was able to keep attending the temple, fulfilling my calling, and growing closer to the Lord. Even though life was so hard, the Lord strengthened me.
Much of the strength came from reading the Book of Mormon. One of the themes that stuck out to me the most at this time was that of deliverance. The Book of Mormon is rife with examples of deliverance.
In the very first chapter of the Book of Mormon, we read:
“…But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” – 1 Nephi 1:20
Nephi sets a tone for the Book of Mormon: If we are faithful, if we choose the Lord, then He will extend to us His tender mercies: unto the power of deliverance. What a comforting and hopeful message. We have a loving Father – who will deliver each of us individually.
” 15 And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind he shall shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry shod.
16 And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” – 2 Nephi 21:15-16
The Lord does prepare a way so that His people can be delivered from bondage.
This was comforting to me because I felt like I was in “Egypt” or in “bondage”… – being single. Being a single parent – the emotion and disappointment of divorce, dating, and trying to stay sane was very difficult for me. I was alone. Sometimes life seemed a little hopeless. It was hard to know how I would get married when there weren’t many prospects (dates, etc.), and when I didn’t have much time to attend singles activities/functions/get togethers. However, I knew that the Lord was aware of me, and that He would provide the path that I needed to take so I could receive this blessing.
And He did. And I did.
“Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.” – 1 Nephi 17:14
The Lord physically delivered Nephi and his family from a physical condition – the destruction of Israel and their possible demise. We know that Israel was conquered, and had Nephi and his family remained in Jerusalem, then they would have been destroyed.
When the Lord delivered Nephi and his family, however, they weren’t magically transported to paradise. They had to travail through the wilderness before reaching the promised land.
We can learn so much from this example. I loved this story because I felt like, while I was a single mom, I was in my “wilderness”…slowly moving toward this promised land. And I was grateful for the sustaining hope – the Lord had already delivered me from a destructive marriage, and I knew he would deliver me from the pain that I was experiencing at that time.
“Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.” – 1 Nephi 4:3
Not only do we read a pattern of deliverance in the Book of Mormon, but we also get the pattern of faith in deliverance. In this scripture, Nephi is exercising his faith that the Lord indeed will deliver him and his brothers. Nephi’s faith is based on the scriptures. Nephi knew that the Lord had delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and that he had the power to do the same for Nephi and his brothers. I love this example of Nephi – being faithful, and letting your life be filled with power that comes from the lives of other faithful people. Because Nephi knew that the Lord had the power to deliver the children of Israel, Nephi knew that the Lord could deliver him.
“Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”- Alma 58:11
The thing is: we have to endure trials. Sometimes it is because of our own lack of faith or our own sin. Other times, we have to endure the consequences of another’s bad choices. Then, there are times when we just have to endure trial because we are being refined. In any case, we have to endure…but we don’t have to do it alone. Long before we are delivered, the lord will bless our souls with peace, He will strengthen our faith, and our hope for deliverance will buoy us up through trial.
This is exactly what I experienced. I was not relieved of my trial immediately, but the Lord did comfort me, helped my unbelief, and sustained me with hope.
I share this scripture chain because…well I think it’s because I know that we all suffer, and we go through this life enduring hardship and trial. Even amidst blessings there seem to be difficulties. We experience opposition.
For some, the opposition becomes so strong, they begin to doubt the very existence of God. They may think that if there is a God, then He’s not good – or loving.
But, I want to say that I know that God is Good. He loves us. I know that He mourns with us as we struggle through our trials. I know that He also reaches out to heal and strengthen us. He has allowed each of us to make our own choices, but we do not have to go on in this life without Him. He is accessible, and His love can be felt in the scriptures – especially the Book of Mormon.
I’d like to echo Alma’s words:
“And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.” – Alma 36:27
I have also been supported under trials and troubles of every kind. I have been supported in various afflictions. God has delivered me from the prison of a horrible marriage, the bonds of sin, and from physical death (well…he will, once I die). I feel like I don’t deserve this. I haven’t always been as obedient or faithful as I should be. Yet He has loved me enough to deliver me. And because of His mercy, I’ve experienced many blessings, and joyous occasions. I know, like Alma, that I can trust Heavenly Father.
We are children of a Loving Heavenly Father. He will deliver me. He will deliver you – if you also put your trust in Him.
Read more great testimonies (this month) of the Book of Mormon over at the Book of Mormon Forum.