26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
(2 Nephi 4:26-28)
After relating his family’s miraculous experiences during their journey from Jerusalem to the American continent, Nephi gives us a glimpse of his own personal struggle to overcome his weaknesses and live up to Heavenly Father’s expectations of him. In the last 20 verses of 2 Nephi 4, often called “Nephi’s Psalm,” he walks us through seven stages in his own arduous process of repentance and growth:
- Testimony and love of the gospel (v. 15-16) – “My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.”
- Recognition of, and sorrow for, his weaknesses (v. 17-19) – “I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.”
- Gratitude for the blessings he has received from God (v. 20-25) – “He hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.”
- Frustration at his inability to live up to the promise of those blessings (v. 26-27) – “If I have seen so great things,…why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?”
- Determination to do better (v. 28-30) – “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.”
- Pleading with God to help him (v. 31-33) – “O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul?… Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?”
- Promising to continue to trust in God (v. 34-35) – “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.”
He makes repentance look like hard work, and it is. “Repentance is sometimes a painful process, but it leads to forgiveness and lasting peace” (Gospel Topics, “Repentance“). Here’s how Elder D. Todd Christofferson characterized this process of change in our lives:
Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire. Such submissiveness is not reached in a day, but through the Holy Spirit, the Lord will tutor us if we are willing until, in process of time, it may accurately be said that He is in us as the Father is in Him. At times I tremble to consider what may be required, but I know that it is only in this perfect union that a fulness of joy can be found. I am grateful beyond expression that I am invited to be one with those holy beings I revere and worship as my Heavenly Father and Redeemer (“That They May Be One in Us,” General Conference, October 2002).
Today, I will follow Nephi’s example of genuine repentance. I will begin with my testimony of the things I know to be true. I will acknowledge the hand of the Lord in my life, and will also recognize the areas where I fall short. I will commit to do better and will ask for His help in overcoming my weaknesses. Above all, I will continue to trust in Him, recognizing that this process will require sustained effort over time.