I love it when the scriptures set up a template that we can follow to work through life challenges. In 2nd Nephi, Nephi is troubled in a big way. His father, Lehi, just passed away and now Nephi needs to fill Lehi's shoes as the spiritual leader, as well as continue to endure the antics of his rebel brothers, Laman & Lemuel.
Nephi begins the psalm by sharing his anguish over his own failings (“O wretched man I am”). But, after expressing his despair, Nephi starts to question his own negative thoughts. He actually begins to look for alternative ways to look at his situation.
In other words, Nephi is asking the questions, and then, Nephi is answering his own questions. Go Nephi! Nephi starts to reframe his thoughts and actually transforms them from sorrow to joy. It’s really interesting to follow the verses closely and see the change.
Like Nephi, sometimes we really do need to choose not to be sorrowful. When Nephi says: “O my heart, give place no more for the enemy of my soul” he’s basically saying he can’t make room in his life for discouragement.
Nephi shows us things that can be a powerful antidote to discouragement, namely, writing our thoughts, counting our blessings, reading our scriptures, pondering, etc. And, another huge part of the equation is replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
I was grateful to have the opportunity to teach the psalm of Nephi and be reminded that even prophets feel overwhelmed and discouraged at times. But, Nephi (because he was a prophet and I am not) understood that we mitigate the impact of discouragement through living the gospel and centering our life on Christ.
As usual, the class made excellent comments; those bright students can take my mediocre lessons and share insight that makes me feel like I’ve actually taught the class something (even if it’s indirectly).