God works wonders when the stakes are high, and He sometimes saves some of His most remarkable miracles for the last minute. Abraham’s relief and blessings came only after tying his son Isaac to the altar and preparing to slay him (Genesis 22:1–13). Moses parted the Red Sea in a moment of desperation: when the Egyptians were pursuing the ancient Israelites and there was nowhere else to turn (Exodus 14).
It was when Peter began to sink after briefly walking on water that Jesus “stretched forth His hand” (Matthew 14:30–31). While praying to know which church to join, Joseph Smith “saw a pillar of light” only after he “was ready to sink into despair and abandon [himself] to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as [he] had never before felt in any being” (Joseph Smith History 1:16).
We cannot help but also marvel at the high stakes for believers as we read and ponder 3 Nephi 1–7 this week in Come, Follow Me. The chilling circumstances they faced are captured in few words: “Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet” (3 Nephi 1:9). Their resolution and miracle, like that of many other valiant disciples of Christ, did not come immediately.
God has never intervened at the wrong time. While sought-after miracles may appear at the last minute, “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen” (1 Nephi 1:20). There are reasons to rejoice even in times of waiting. We can celebrate these opportunities to exercise faith, develop stronger confidence in the Lord, find joy in representing Christ, and discover gratitude for each other.
Perhaps you are in a season of waiting on the Lord, and perhaps it feels extreme. Wherever you are in your faith journey, it is our hope that these resources and teachings from this week’s Come, Follow Me can be a springboard to your continued endurance and your gratitude for the Savior.
As David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman illustrate in Don’t Miss This, pondering what the daily life of believers under such high pressure looks like can be eye-opening and powerful. They relate what Nephite families may have thought about and felt in this week’s video.
“Can you imagine? . . . They have dinner, they clean it up, and they sit out on the back porch and they watch that sunset, and then it just gets dark. And they’re like, ‘Well, maybe tomorrow.’ But then the problem is it intensifies. And in this first chapter, they say the nonbelievers set a date. And they’re like, ‘If it does not happen by this day, then we’re executing everybody who still believes in it.’ Now that just upped the ante a little bit,” Butler explains.
These extreme circumstances had a polarizing effect. For some, they “began to be less and less astonished at a sign or wonder from heaven” (3 Nephi 2:1). Others began to deepen their faith.
What made the difference?
Freeman points out several suggestions from 3 Nephi for what helped them become steadfast and immovable:
- • Serve God with diligence day and night
- • Forsake all sin, abomination, and whoredoms
- • Preach God’s love to all of God’s children
- • Create order in the land by upholding the laws of equity and justice
- • Receive railings (i.e. endure persecution)
- • Strive to be exceedingly humble
- • Receive inspiration from heaven to stand, teach, and testify boldly about Jesus and His Atonement
- • Believe in the reality of angels from both sides of the veil
- • Honor and participate in the power of the priesthood of God
- • Recognize the power and Spirit of God
- • Minister with power and great authority
- • Testify boldly of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ
- • Live as disciples of Jesus Christ
- • Have great faith allowing angels to minister daily
- • Experience God’s miracles, recognize them, and express gratitude for God’s hand in our lives through diligent church attendance
- • Listen to God’s prophet
- • Testify of the Spirit of God
- • Keep the commandments
- • Remain clean through continual repentance
- • Watch for the signs of Jesus Christ
As you consider these qualities of the Nephites, perhaps you can consider how you can be like them and prevent yourself from becoming “less and less astonished.”
► You may also like: How to “doubt not but be believing” even when your questions remain unanswered
Confidence in Christ
In this week's episode of the Sunday on Monday podcast, Ellery Howarth offered the following insight: “The Lord always fulfills His promises. And so I love that He says that ‘I will fulfill . . . that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets’ (3 Nephi 1:13). And that's comforting to me because I've made promises with the Lord. And so even though maybe I'm waiting and I feel like I'm dying waiting for them to be fulfilled, you know, His end of them, as long as I keep my part He will fulfill it.”
This also gave the Nephites hope as they waited for Christ. Confidence in the Lord and in His ability to fulfill His words often stem from previous experiences. Tammy Uzelac Hall, host of the Sunday on Monday podcast, also asked guests to share an experience where God clearly intervened and protected them. Hearing the experiences of others as well as remembering our own instances where God has protected us can strengthen our faith.
There is great comfort in knowing that the Lord has a perfect track record of keeping His promises. We read in the Old Testament, “There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). When we find ourselves waiting on the Lord, we can find joy in witnessing our hope and confidence in Him increase.
► You may also like: Watch: Elder Holland’s powerful message of hope might be just what you need in 2020
The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original presented by LDS Living. You can access the full study group discussion through the Bookshelf app. Listen to a segment of this week's episode below or listen to the full Sunday on Monday episode here.
The Joy of Discipleship
The words found in 3 Nephi 5:13 took on a new meaning for me when I served as a missionary: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. ” While I served, I was consistently reminded of the following value: “In the Utah Provo Mission, we find joy in being representatives of Jesus Christ.” Initially, it felt like a nice and even obvious sentiment. I certainly didn’t disagree. Yet what I didn’t know was that this value would become an anchor to me; it kept me steady through storms of disappointment and grief when those I loved did not choose to live the gospel.
Now I see that no matter how good or how bad of a day I have, I can always delight in the privilege to bear the name of the Savior in my heart and countenance. Remembering how much trust Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son place in me daily gives me the courage to keep trying. Surely, They also placed great trust in every Nephite and Lamanite believer that held onto faith in the midst of the wickedness, abominations, and warfare that preceded Christ’s coming to the ancient Americas.
► You may also like: Elder Holland’s insights on these 8 lesser-known names of Christ
I marvel continually at the words of President Henry B. Eyring in the October 2018 general conference: “My testimony is that the Savior is putting His name in your hearts. For many of you, your faith in Him is increasing. You are feeling more hope and optimism. And you are feeling the pure love of Christ for others and for yourself.” These are incredible blessings we can experience regardless of our circumstances.
In this talk, President Eyring discusses practical ways we can fully take upon ourselves the name of Christ. Read or watch his talk below.
Likewise, in the October 2016 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson gave inspiring counsel regarding how to find joy.
For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy! … Just as the Savior offers peace that “passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers with an incurable illness or when you lose your job or when your spouse betrays you. Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7) and be consecrated to our gain (2 Nephi 2:2).
Read or watch President Nelson’s talk below.
We Are Better Together
The Come, Follow Me—For Primary manual offers a powerful activity for children to illustrate why we are stronger as a collective unit, like the Nephites as they waited for the Savior.
Invite the children to try breaking one stick and then a bundle of sticks or tearing one piece of paper and then a stack of papers. How are we like the sticks or the paper? How can we strengthen each other when we gather together in our families or at church?
There is certainly strength in numbers, and times of hardship provide some of the best environments for empathy to flourish. When we choose to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, we choose to take upon ourselves sacred responsibilities: “to be called his people,” to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens,” to be “willing to mourn with those that mourn,” to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” and to boldly “stand as witnesses of God” (Mosiah 18:8–9).
We cannot draw upon the power of our baptismal covenants alone; rather, the power comes through loving one another. There is great joy in recognizing and appreciating the power of covenant-keeping people in our lives. Consider the spiritual and temporal strength enjoyed when the people gathered together: “And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle” (3 Nephi 3:25).
All the signs of Christ’s birth and death happened as prophesied. “And it came to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets” (3 Nephi 1:20). God will keep every promise, both big and small. In the meantime, while we are waiting for His promises to be fulfilled, there are always reasons to rejoice in Christ.