What Can We Learn from the Women in the Book of Mormon?

Today, I have been pondering the lessons I have learned from some of the women in the Book of Mormon. Here are a few of those lessons:

“Now I know of a surety…”

Sariah trusted the revelations received by her husband, Lehi. She, along with the rest of the family, abandoned her home in Jerusalem to travel in the wilderness toward an unknown destination (1 Nephi 2:4-5).

The only time we see her faith falter is when her husband sends her sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates from a powerful man named Laban. She understands the dangers in the journey and probably also knows something about Laban’s character. When her sons take longer than expected to return, Sariah makes the only complaint we hear from her in the entire journey: “Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 5:2).

These fears and concerns were well-founded, based on her own lived experience and her knowledge of the risks that the family had taken. I’m not surprised that she suffered a brief lapse of faith at this moment. But I am impressed with the way she handled it. When Lehi reassured her that God had promised to bring their sons safely back to them, the record says that she was comforted. Why? Because she was willing to believe, to look beyond the risks and the difficulties which faced them, and to trust that God would look out for her family.

When her sons return, she makes the following statement of testimony:

Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them (1 Nephi 5:8).

She and her husband together express their gratitude to God by offering “sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord” (1 Nephi 5:9).

I have learned the following lesson from Sariah:

Sometimes the difficulties and uncertainties of life cause us to doubt. We need to be willing to trust in God’s promises during those times, until the promised blessings come.

“I have had no witness save thy word…nevertheless I believe”

The wife of King Lamoni was distraught when her husband fell into a coma for two days and two nights after hearing the words of a missionary named Ammon. Some of her servants believed that he was dead and wanted to bury him, but she wasn’t so sure. At the urging of some of the other servants, she sent for Ammon and asked what she should do (Alma 19:1-5).

For Ammon, the king’s situation was familiar. His good friend Alma had experienced a similar unconscious state when he was converted to the gospel. After seeing the king, Ammon assured the queen, “He is not dead, but he sleepeth in God, and on the morrow he shall rise again” (Alma 19:8). Ammon asked her if she believed him, and she replied:

I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants; nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou hast said (Alma 19:9).

Shortly afterward, she experienced a similar period of unconsciousness after which she proclaimed: “O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell!” (Alma 19:29).

From this Lamanite queen, I have learned the following:

Listen to your intuition. Don’t let other people make you doubt your own experience and feelings. Keep seeking until you find the truth.

“She ran forth from house to house”

Abish was a servant in the house of King Lamoni. She had been converted to the gospel many years earlier “on account of a remarkable vision of her father,” but she apparently kept her faith quiet for many years, because it would not have been well received by her people (Alma 19:16). When Ammon preached the gospel to her king, and subsequently, when his entire household was converted, all of her pent-up enthusiasm came pouring out. Ammon, the king and queen, and all of the other servants had fallen to the ground overpowered by the Spirit. To Abish, the meaning of this scene was self-evident: their souls had been filled with light, and they were overcome by the power of God. She wanted all of her people to see this.

The record says that she “ran forth from house to house,” urging the people to come to the king’s house and see what had happened. For her, this was an extraordinary opportunity to share what she had known for years but had been unable to communicate. She thought that “by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God” (Alma 19:17).

Unfortunately, she thought too highly of her friends and neighbors. At her urging, they did indeed assemble at the house of the king, but they did not understand what they were seeing. One of them even attempted to kill Ammon as he lay lifeless on the ground. When Abish returned, she was shocked and dismayed, and she did the only sensible thing under the circumstances: She “took the queen by the hand, that perhaps she might raise her from the ground.” As soon as Abish touched the queen, “she arose and stood upon her feet” (Alma 19:29). Subsequently, everyone present was converted to the Lord.

I’ve learned the following from Abish:

Take advantage of opportunities to share the gospel with others. If people don’t understand at first, don’t give up. Keep trying to help them see the truths that can bless their lives.

“We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”

The people of King Lamoni and many others who were converted by Ammon and his associates later immigrated to the land of the Nephites. Years later, during a massive conflict between the Nephites and the Lamanites, 2,060 of their sons fought bravely under the leadership of Helaman. Their contribution to the war was miraculous. Not one of them died, even though people died all around them in the battles they fought. Helaman attributed this miracle to their faith, and they in turn attributed that faith to their mothers. As Helaman explained in a letter to his superior officer, Captain Moroni:

They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it (Alma 56:47-48).

Later in his account, Helaman marvels at the discipline, the precision, and the responsiveness of these young soldiers:

They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them (Alma 57:21).

From the mothers of these young soldiers, I have learned the following lesson:

A parent’s faith is transferable to his or her children. Young people can accomplish miracles as they trust in the convictions expressed by their parents.

Conclusion

Today, I will remember the lessons I have learned from Sariah, from the Lamanite queen, from Abish, and from the mothers of Helaman’s soldiers. I will trust in God’s promises, follow my intuition, enthusiastically share the gospel, and express my convictions to my children.

5 thoughts on “What Can We Learn from the Women in the Book of Mormon?

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  1. I love your last takeaway from 2,060 warrior sons. Young people can accomplish miracles as they trust in their parent’s faith! With all the adjustments to emphasize youth leadership & the new children and youth program, I hope my faith will be a tailwind for my children…and that my doubts/fears will never act as an impediment to them truly accomplishing miracles. God bless the good women who inspire this type of confidence and trust!

    >>

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Our faith can strengthen the faith of others, including our children. But we have to be willing to share it and make it visible. These young men had observed their mothers for many years and had no doubt about their conviction. Interesting thought: the wife of King Lamoni and Abish may have been among the mothers of these young men.

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