1 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.
2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.
3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.
(1 Nephi 3:1-4)
The learning process requires us to meet progressively more difficult challenges. When you’re learning math, you first master arithmetic, then build on those skills to learn algebra. When you train for a marathon, you gradually increase the distance of your long runs until you are able to manage a full 26.2 miles at once.
The same principle applies to spiritual growth. After Nephi prayed for help with the challenge of leaving his home, God softened his heart and helped him believe. Because of his increased faith, he received great promises from the Lord. It’s not surprising that the next event, as recorded in the passage above, was a new challenge: a commandment to return to Jerusalem and retrieve a set of sacred writings from a powerful leader.
The Apostle Paul urged members of the church who encountered challenges or difficulties to remember that this had happened to them before: “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions…. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward” (Hebrews 10:32, 35).
After sharing this counsel from the Apostle Paul, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland provided the following words of encouragement:
With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” BYU Devotional Address, 2 Mar 1999).
Today, I will remember that the challenges I face are indicative of progress and personal growth. When I encounter new and more difficult struggles, I will view them as evidence of my spiritual progress. I will not cast away my confidence but will stay the course and experience the growth that each new challenge can bring.