The sequence of this chapter is instructive.
Nephi return to the tent of his father after he has gone out and prayed on behalf of his brothers and received a tender and comforting vision from the Lord. (1 Nephi 2: 18-24). When he does so, his father seems to immediately tell him about a vision that he had requiring Nephi and his brothers to go to Jerusalem to get the plates. His brothers have already been told and have murmured and complained about the task.
Yet, even before Nephi is told about it, his father has confidence that he will go because he “has not murmured.” And Nephi responds with his famous lines of great faith: ” I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded . . .” Immediately afterwards, his father “was exceedingly glad” and “knew that [Nephi] had been blessed of the Lord.”
A couple of lessons from these verses
- Nephi by being willingly obedient and not murmuring had built up trust in God and his Father. They knew that Nephi would act in faith. For that reason Nephi “was favored of the lord.”
- Not murmuring comes as a gift from God. Nephi is favored because he doesn’t murmur, but he also gets his strength to avoid murmuring by praying to the Lord.
- Lehi’s father declares that Nephi is blessed of the Lord BEFORE he has actually gone and done anything. It is Nephi’s attitude and willingness to hearken and listen that is in and of itself a blessing from God.
Murmuring and complaining is a very predictable symptom of the natural man. It is easy to focus on all of the things we don’t have. It is also easy to see God’s commandments and instructions as burdensome and a “hard thing.” But often, those hard things are the things we truly need to grow and develop spiritually. And even more so, hearkening to God when he asks us to do hard things is even more necessary.
In my first area as a missionary, we had no investigators to teach at all. So, we went out every day in the middle of a cold Siberian December and tracted. Sometimes we would pray about where to go to tract, and follow what seemed to be promptings, but get no results. I wondered why God was leading us to areas where we were not having success. Nevertheless, we got up and worked hard every day trying out best to hearken and not to murmur. And by the end of that transfer we began to see miracles. One of the non-member friends of a member had been watching our example and had made the decision to meet with us because she was impressed by our dedication and our willingness to serve. As I reflected on that experience, I realized that the blessings that followed came because God knew that he could trust us to follow his will. We were blessed long before those experiences, however, because of our decision to follow the Lord.