How Did Nephi Deal with Adversity?

I’ve written a lot on this blog about dealing with adversity, but I still have a lot to learn. Today, I’ve looked at Nephi’s response to specific challenges: the broken bow, the death of his father-in-law, the commandment to build a ship, and being tied up during their sea voyage. Here’s what I’ve learned:

The broken bow: Do something productive.

I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food? (1 Nephi 16:23).

Nephi and his brothers were exhausted, hungry, and concerned about their future ability to provide food for the family after his bow broke and his brothers’ bows lost their springs. They spent their precious time and energy complaining. He spent his time and energy taking action to obtain food.

The death of Ishmael: Trust the Lord.

It came to pass that the Lord was with us, yea, even the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them, and did chasten them exceedingly; and after they were chastened by the voice of the Lord they did turn away their anger, and did repent of their sins (1 Nephi 16:39).

The daughters of Ishmael were upset. Nephi’s brothers threatened to kill him and their father. Under these circumstances, Nephi apparently didn’t do anything. He patiently waited until the Lord intervened.

The commandment to build a ship: Ask for the help you need.

And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? (1 Nephi 17:9).

When God commanded Nephi to build a ship that would carry his family across the ocean, he didn’t say, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know how.” His first thought was, “If I’m going to to build a ship, I need tools that I don’t currently have. I’m sure I can make the tools, but only if I can find ore. I need God’s help to find the ore.” Because he accurately assessed the situation, and because he was able to believe in a positive outcome, he was able to immediately ask God for the specific help he needed in that moment in order to obey the commandment.

Bound on the boat: Praise God and acknowledge His blessings.

I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions (1 Nephi 18:16).

When Nephi’s brothers tied him up during their sea-journey, he could not move. His hands and his feet became swollen. To make matters worse, they entered an enormous storm which pounded the ship for four days.

It turned out that the storm was God’s gift to Nephi. Only the storm, which threatened the lives of everyone on board, had the power to change his brothers’ hearts and convince them to set him free.

But while the storm was in progress, it couldn’t have felt like a blessing. Fortunately for Nephi, he resisted the urge to complain, and he instead praised God all day long.


Today, I will strive to follow Nephi’s example in dealing with adversity. When I face challenges, obstacles, and frustrations, I will do something productive, trust the Lord, ask for the help I need, and be grateful for the blessings God has given me.

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