In the September 2019 issue of the Ensign magazine, Elder Lynn G. Robbins expresses his concern that many young people have not developed sufficient resilience. He defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change,” and he encourages parents to increase their efforts to help their children develop this virtue (“Resilience—Spiritual Armor for Today’s Youth“).
Today, I looked for examples of resilience in the Book of Mormon. Here’s what I found:
Nephi bounced back from multiple failures as he and his brothers tried different approaches to obtain the brass plates. After the first failure, when his brothers wanted to give up, he said, “As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us” (1 Nephi 3:15). After the second failure, he reminded his brothers that God had helped the children of Israel cross the Red Sea. “Let us go up,” he said; “the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 4:3). Nephi’s determination to keep God’s commandments and his ability to apply the scriptures to his life helped him to see beyond frustrations and to believe in their ultimate success.
After the death of his father, Alma the Younger served as high priest over the church. When King Mosiah died, he was also selected as the first chief judge over the Nephites. But when he saw growing pride and persecution among his people, he became increasingly concerned. Mormon tells us that Alma was troubled by the way his people were treating one another. “Nevertheless,” Mormon tells us, “the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him” (Alma 4:15). Selecting a new chief judge, he dedicated himself to fulfilling the office of high priest. Alma was able to take positive action in the face of discouraging trends because he remained close to the Spirit of the Lord.
As Captain Moroni led the Nephite armies against a formidable enemy, he was encouraged to receive a letter from Helaman, describing miraculous victories on the other front. But shortly afterward, one of the cities that he had retaken again fell into the hands of the invading army. Moroni had expected additional troops to be sent to that city, and “knowing that it was easier to keep the city from falling into the hands of the Lamanites than to retake it from them,…he became exceedingly sorrowful.” Mormon even tells us that Captain Moroni “began to doubt…whether they should not fall into the hands of their brethren” (Alma 59:9, 11). He wrote an angry letter to the leader of the government, who he believed was responsible for this failure. But when he learned the truth, he was able to take appropriate action and win the war soon after. Captain Moroni overcame discouragement by learning more about the challenges he faced, so that he could take appropriate action.
Mormon became commander of the Nephite armies at the age of fifteen (Mormon 2:2). However, after leading them and teaching them for many years, and observing the hardness of their hearts, he says, “I…did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people” (Mormon 3:11). But some time later, he came back: “I…did repent of the oath which I had made that I would no more assist them; and they gave me command again of their armies.” But his expectations were realistic: “I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them” (Mormon 3:1-2). Why did he agree to lead them again under those circumstances? Because he loved them. He knew that he couldn’t save them because of their unwillingness to repent. But he could lead them and be with them. Mormon reset his expectations and acted upon what he could control, in spite of the challenges which were beyond his control.
Today, I will teach my children resilience in the face of discouragement. I will teach them that God will always help them keep His commandments. I will help them learn to stay close to the Spirit of the Lord. I will encourage them to see failures as opportunities to learn. And I will help them focus on what they can do, not on what is outside of their control.