…having seen many afflictions in the course of my days. (1 Nephi 1:1)
Now here was a concept I could understand! That certainly described my life. Childhood: painful, lonely, neglected, abused. Teens: painful, lonely, neglected, abused, sinful. Young adulthood: painful, confused, compulsive-obsessive, perfectionistic. Adulthood: painful, lonely, abused, abusing, driven, depressed, morbidly obese.
nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days…
Isn’t it a complete contradiction for Nephi say that he has seen many afflictions over the course of his lifetime and at the same time still feels highly favored of the Lord in all his days? How could he possibly experience a lifetime of afflictions and still feel favored of the Lord?
Highly favored, at that?
As I have studied and applied the principles of the gospel that correlate with the Twelve Steps, I have been restored to sanity (see A.A. Step 2). I’ve come to realize that afflictions and trials are part of life. They do not mean that I am bad or damaged. Nor to they mean, worse yet, that God is bad or vindictive, arbitrary, even cruel. Today, I know that these negative thoughts are lies, planted in my heart by the adversary.
In the light of this one verse, I see that Nephi is offering me the same truth of which his father, Lehi, also testifies:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.… all things must needs be a compound in one. (2 Nephi 2:11)
Both prophets, father and son, are trying to tell me that life is a paradoxical and mysterious and amazing blend—or “compound in one”—of both affliction and favor. This is true for all of us, without exception. Prophet and housewife. In 600 B.C. and in 2000 A.D.
Today, I feel Nephi’s fellowship. I feel his joy that I’ve finally heard the truth he lived and died to offer me.
Prayerful thought: Lord, help me to remember that life is a compound in one–and that it’s good. It’s all good.