“That They Should Perish Not” – Ether 13:7

When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, he made the best of a bad situation, but he couldn’t have known that his relocation to Egypt would eventually save the lives of his father and the rest of his family. But years later, after rising to a position of authority, when his brothers traveled to Egypt seeking relief from a terrible famine, Joseph recognized the hand of God in the difficult experiences of his life. With extraordinary compassion, Joseph implored his brothers:

Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

Genesis 45:5

When Joseph’s father, Israel, arrived in Egypt, they embraced and wept “a good while” (Genesis 46:29). Israel lived in Egypt for the rest of his life.

Hundreds of years later, on the American continent, the prophet Ether wrote about this experience. Just as Joseph’s father had been saved when his son was driven from the land of Israel, Ether said, some of Joseph’s descendants would also be saved by relocating from Israel to the American continent. Here is Moroni’s paraphrase of Ether’s prophecy:

For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.

Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance.

Ether 13:7-8

Ether was a contemporary of Coriantumr, the only survivor of the final battle of the Jaredites (Ether 15:30-32). Coriantumr later traveled to the land of Zarahemla and lived with the Nephites and the Mulekites, during the reign of King Mosiah, for nine months (Omni 1:21). Both groups of people had traveled from Israel hundreds of years earlier, to escape the Babylonian captivity.

Lehi, the ancestor of the Nephites who left his home behind to lead his family to safety, rejoiced when he arrived at his promised land:

For, behold, said he, I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.

But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise

2 Nephi 1:4-5

What is the lesson for us? When you have to let something go, it might be because God wants to give you something better. Instead of clinging to our current circumstances or lamenting our lost opportunities, we would do well to follow the examples of Joseph in slavery and of Lehi in a new land: Seize the opportunities. Look forward, not backward. Recognize the hand of God in your life.

Today, I will remember Joseph and Lehi. I will strive to humble myself before God, to recognize the blessings He is giving me, and to let go of things which I no longer need. I will remember that God has my best interests at heart, and that difficult experiences may actually be a blessing.

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