1 And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
2 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
(2 Nephi 2:1-2)
A couple of things strike me about this passage as I ponder it this evening:
- Lehi associated Jacob’s birth with a very significant decision: to trade their life of comfort in Jerusalem for many years of traveling in the wilderness. Jacob was the first child born to Lehi and Sariah after that decision, and so he was the first child never to live in the comfort of the city.
- However, when Lehi acknowledges the “afflictions and much sorrow” which Jacob has experienced his entire life, he does not attribute it to their austere lifestyle, but rather to “the rudeness of [Jacob’s] brethren.” He seems to believe that the unkindness and disrespect shown by Laman and Lemuel toward other family members has been more damaging to Jacob than the discomforts associated with tent living.
- Lehi reminds Jacob that God can turn these afflictions into growth experiences, which benefit rather than damage him.
As Elder Robert D. Hales counseled us last April:
As temperate disciples, we live the gospel in a balanced and steady way…. Day by day we move forward, undeterred by the refining challenges of mortality…. When faced with the storms of tribulation, we ask, “What wouldst Thou have me learn from this experience?” With His plan and purposes in our hearts, we move forward not only enduring all things but also enduring them patiently and well (“Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” General Conference, April 2017).
Today, I will strive for the temperance described by Elder Hales. I will “move forward, undeterred by the refining challenges” I face. When I encounter a roadblock or a painful experience, I will ask what I can learn from it. I will remember, as Lehi taught Jacob, that God can and will “consecrate [my] afflictions for [my] gain.”