Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.
(1 Nephi 18:16)
In this short verse, Nephi gives us several strategies to short circuit our instinctive tendency to complain when faced with challenges:
- Look unto God – Complaining causes us to turn inward and to focus on our own experience, which tends to distort our perspective and make our problems seem bigger than they really are. Turning our attention to God reminds us that the universe is much larger than our own limited experience.
- Praise Him – To praise God is to be grateful–to acknowledge the incredible gifts and blessings we have received from Him. Recognizing the good in our lives helps us to avoid overreacting to temporary hardships.
- Choose not to murmur – Nephi had plenty of reasons to complain. As a result of his obedience, he was tied up on a ship that was being blown backwards and was in danger of sinking. Surely he could have been forgiven for questioning or even blaming the Lord under such circumstances. But forgivable or not, an expression of bitterness toward God would not have helped him to overcome his challenges. He needed God’s help, and so he deliberately chose not to express his unhappiness in hostile terms.