Context and General Information
- Lehi, shortly before his death, is leaving a blessing with his youngest son, Joseph.
- Joseph was named after Joseph (who was sold into slavery in Egypt). Lehi and his family are descendants of Joseph.
- Joseph (in Egypt) saw the future – he saw the day of Lehi and his family. God promised Joseph that the Lord would raise a righteous branch of the house of Israel from his loins.
- The branch that was promised to Joseph would not be the one of the Messiah. Joseph’s posterity would be “broken off” but still remembered by God.
- The Lord would raise up a mighty seer from Joseph’s lineage. This seer would help to do the Lord’s work of gathering scattered Israel.
- Both the fruit of Joseph’s and Judah’s loins would write. These records would, together, testify of Christ and His gospel.
- Out of weakness, he would be made strong.
Out of Weakness He Shall Be Made Strong
There is so much to learn from this scripture block. We could study Joseph in Egypt. We could study the promises the Lord made with Him. We could study the scattering of Israel. We could study the prophecy of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. We could study the prophecy of Joseph Smith.
We could learn so much. But for today, there is something else standing out to me, entirely.
I will warn you now, it’s more personal. I hope that by sharing my thoughts today, you will be both uplifted and able to see how we can apply the scriptures to our lives.
As I read today, the phrase in verse 13 kept standing out to me:
“And out of weakness he shall be made strong,…” – 2 Nephi 3:13
Actually, at first, when I saw this phrase, for some reason I read it with a ye or you rather than he. And I know why.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with some health issues – with my heart, specifically. I have an angiogram scheduled for next week. I may go in earlier if there is a cancellation. I have no idea what is going on.
So…let me back up. A few months ago, I was feeling shortness of breath and dizziness. Then one day, I felt some mild chest pain. I made an appointment to go to the doctor. He had me go to the ER to make sure I wasn’t in some kind of acute situation. I also set up an appointment with a cardiologist and I was scheduled to do stuff like lab work for my primary physician.
Oh – and also – growing up I had some issues with my heart. I had arrhythmia. I also was borderline Prolonged QT syndrome. The point – my heart is healthy, but I have a few “electrical issues.” I was medicated from the age of 15-25. Then, trends and understanding of arrhythmias changed, and I was cleared to go off of the beta blockers.
After that, I kind of stopped going to the cardiologist. I still had/have arrhythmia. I still had/have a very slow heart-rate. But I felt great. I ran a marathon! I was in shape, healthy, happy, etc.
So, when I started getting the shortness of breath, I realized I needed to see a cardiologist again (I haven’t seen one in 13 years…shame on me, I guess). The cardiologist ordered a battery of tests: Holter monitor, stress test, echocardiogram, etc.
The night I felt chest pain, I have to admit that I was worried. I was praying a lot – for direction and comfort on what I should do. I came away with the conclusion that I needed to follow the Word of Wisdom. I decided to immediately adopt a nearly vegetarian diet. I knew that I needed my diet to be primarily fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. The spine of my diet needed to be grain. And then meat very sparingly.
I made this change and within days felt amazing. I was dropping weight, and things were great.
However, some things still hadn’t changed. I was still getting short of breath. It was mysterious as to why I was short of breath – I’ve always been very active. But I wasn’t worried. I was now seeing a cardiologist and getting tested. I did what my primary doc wanted me to do. I did the tests for my cardiologist. For the most part, I was feeling great. Every once in a while I’d have a little chest pain, but it would last only a few minutes. I chalked it up to life – I had done a hard workout, whatever.
So, we got the labs back from my primary doctor. Everything was GREAT. My triglycerides, cholesterol, etc – It was not just normal, but excellent. I’m not even close to the borderline for any kind of issue. My doctor said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”
I still had some more cardiologists tests to do. I wore the Holter monitor for three days. I felt fine the whole time. I ran, I did workouts, I pushed it – so they could see the full range of my days.
Even though I was still having shortness of breath and dizziness from time to time, I could do what I needed to do daily.
I did the stress test. Not too stressful! haha!
Again, I was still having dizziness and shortness of breath from time to time, but maybe that’s because I’m in Phoenix, and it’s hot. I just need to keep eating plenty of bananas and avocados and salt – to keep my electrolytes in check. Sometimes this shortness of breath and dizziness made me tired, but I’d get a quick catnap and feel good as new.
Life is good.
A few days after the stress test, I started noticing more of those chest pains that I was attributing to muscle strain. Should I be worried? Nah.
But then again, maybe. I decided I needed to do the mammogram that my doctor had ordered (and I hadn’t taken because it just sounded so uncomfortable.) When I went into the mammogram, I had to fill out a form. One of the questions is if I’d had chest pain. I realized that I couldn’t honestly answer this “no.” In fact, that day I was feeling quite a bit of chest pain – especially under my left pectoral muscle and into my armpit.
When I told them this, I had to reschedule the mammogram screening and instead have a diagnostic one that would be a little more in depth. This was quite alarming. What was this pain? Was it breast cancer? Was it phantom pain from when I had shingles 2 years ago? Was it my heart???
A few days later, I had undeniable chest pain. I was having pain into my neck, my jaw, my shoulder – all on my left side. And I was feeling indigestion. I knew I needed to go to the ER. So, I went. They rushed me in. It seemed serious…
…Until all of the tests came back.
Negative on the enzyme that shows the heart is being damaged. My EKGs showed arrhythmia (to be expected), but not a heart attack. They watched me a little longer, then I was cleared to go home.
More chest pain the next day. And again. I went to the ER again. Once again, nothing acute.
I saw my cardiologist, who, when I walked into my appointment was happy to give me great news…your tests were great! Yes…those tests were probably fine. But within the last two weeks everything had changed – I explained.
I told him about my chest pain. I was feeling it there at the doctor’s office. He asked me loads of questions. He decided that I needed to get an angiogram as soon as possible. He also told me to take daily aspirin. And he gave me nitroglycerin in case I started having chest pain that wouldn’t go away.
It was decided that I needed to have the angio because there was no obvious explanation for the way I’m feeling. They needed to see if there is some other problem with my heart.
So – now I’m waiting. The idea of nitro scares me, so I’m doing everything I can not to tax my heart. I even talk to it, “Don’t worry little guy…we’re gonna take care of you.” I have sat around on the couch all day – limiting my movement and even talking because then I start to feel major heart pain. I have to bide my time for this angio…
OKAY. So where do the scriptures come in?! Good question…
Throughout all of this, I have asked my husband to give me a few priesthood blessings. I’m so grateful for these special blessings. They bring comfort and calm to my spirit. (I need it. Even thinking about stressful stuff starts making my heart feel physical pain!)
I will share some verbiage from two separate blessings:
“Heavenly Father and Jesus know you and your future and your past, and they understand the body that you have and the weaknesses that it has… that these are not your fault but they are just a part of this earthly life, with these temporal bodies that we have now.”
“…I bless you that you will know that the health issues that you have been going through lately are not a result of this path [my life choices]… but that our bodies are merely imperfect and they have weaknesses.”
Notice that word: Weakness.
Let’s go back to that scripture, with the change to reflect application:
“And out of weakness [ye] shall be made strong,…” – 2 Nephi 3:13
My heart is physically weak. I’m writing this blog post on my couch as my family is outside at the park. Usually I’m the champion of family walks and activities! I am so incredibly grateful for the body with which I have been blessed. I try to show that gratitude through healthy activities and diet.
But, we live in a fallen world. We are mortal. We have imperfections, flaws, and weakness. Sometimes those physical weaknesses persist, no matter our determination to do be healthy. I logically know this, but still felt a little down and out about the entire situation.
Until I read my scriptures today…
Yes. I’m weak. I have weakness – the weakness of mortality. This weakness effects my mind, my body, and my spirit. Sometimes, I can get caught up in perfectionism. I forget that despite my very best efforts, I will always be weak.
It sounds bleak, but remembering this gives way to hope.
I will always be weak, but out of weakness I will be made strong – if I will turn to the Lord and trust in Him.
I don’t know what will happen when I get my angio. I don’t know if something will happen before then with my heart. I don’t know. Maybe I’m fine. Maybe I’ll go in and need some kind of stent or something. Maybe I have a strange condition that has never really presented itself until now, and I’ll need some other kind of therapy. Maybe my arteries are fine, but I’ll need to see an EP because I’m having problems with the electrical part of my heart…I don’t know.
But that doesn’t matter. Because I know that the Lord will make me strong.
I’m so grateful for comfort during times of trial. I’m so grateful to the scriptures. Today was a rare experience. In fact, I’ve really only had three experience like this. Usually, when I read the scriptures, I extrapolate what I need to learn. And it’s great. I always find that I’m learning exactly what I need to know.
But today, when I read, it seemed like the words of verse thirteen were blinking in neon – just for me:
And out of weakness [ye] shall be made strong.
There is no need to be ashamed of my weakness. I have no reason to fear. I simply need to look to the Lord, and trust that He will help to strengthen me in my weakness.