During the October 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson encouraged each of us: “Make a list of all that the Lord has promised He will do for covenant Israel. I think you will be astounded! Ponder these promises. Talk about them with your family and friends. Then live and watch for these promises to be fulfilled in your own life” (“Let God Prevail,” Ensign, Nov. 2020, 95).
One of the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening” in the May 24-30 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 invites us to ponder, “What can we do to ‘confess…[God’s] hand in all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21)?”
Such counsel should inspire us to recognize the promises and blessings given to us as we unite with God through sacred covenants. When we do so, we unite ourselves with God and strive to make our interests one with Him. We do not have to walk this mortal journey alone—we are in a partnership with Jesus.
Christ Promises to Prepare a Way
The Lord has a way of blessing us long before we begin to recognize the need for blessings. He is consistently preparing the way for our present and future needs. God’s efforts in our behalf are constant. He prepares for the right people to be in the right place at the right time. Jesus taught the Nephites, “And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 21:7; emphasis added).
I have seen evidence of the Lord’s preparation for events in my life. Recently I was in distress and had to go to the emergency room. I needed the assistance of a medical doctor and a priesthood blessing. The doctor on-call that night was working an extra shift, and he knew me from our time in the same ward. He was able to assist me with his medical knowledge and administer a priesthood blessing. This is evidence to me that the Lord prepared for my needs before I even knew what they were.
We are encouraged to identify God’s promises and blessings so we can then recognize them, repent when we make mistakes, and learn to be obedient. After the devastating loss of the 116 pages of manuscript translated from the first part of the Book of Mormon, the Lord instructs Joseph Smith, “Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:5; emphasis added). Even if we have sinned, this verse counsels us to focus faithfully on God’s promises.
The Lord’s promises can be found in the scriptures, our patriarchal blessings, in every setting apart, and every priesthood blessing we receive. His promises are much more important than the obstacles, for God knows our situations and sees the future. There are so many voices calling out these days that are attempting to confuse and perplex. The Lord, however, has promised, “And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded” (1 Nephi 22:22). This is a great promise of comfort. It should inspire us to strive earnestly, like Joseph Smith, to #HearHim.
Led to a Promised Land
The Lord promised the Jaredites, Abraham, Moses, and Lehi that God would guide them and their posterity to a promised land (see Ether 1:41-42; Genesis 13:15; Exodus 32:13; 1 Nephi 2:20). A similar assurance was given through Joseph Smith to Latter-day Saints, “In time ye shall possess the goodly land” (Doctrine and Covenants 103:20).
Concerning this “goodly land,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught: “What goodly land? Your goodly land. Your promised land. Your New Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny. I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what his plan is for us” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” [Brigham Young University devotional, Mar. 2, 1999], speeches.byu.edu).
Initially, I struggled to comprehend this promise because I kept thinking it was actual land: a nice piece of property. Elder Holland has helped me see that the promised land for covenant Israel includes not only the tender mercies and abundant blessings that can be received in this life but also a mansion in heaven that we can receive by faithfully following the covenant path.
We came to earth to gain knowledge, to obey laws, and to become like God through our experiences (see Moses 1:39; Doctrine and Covenants 76:58). How can we become like God? Those experiences are different for everyone because everyone is unique. But the covenant promise is ultimately a promised land in the celestial kingdom where we “shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).
Our Prayers Are Answered
I know that the Lord hears my prayers. He does not always answer them in the way I would hope or want, but I do know that He hears them. How do I know? Sometimes there are prayers I am unable to voice, yet they are answered. This tells me the Lord knows my heart.
Sometimes, I don’t know what to pray. Do I pray for a miracle? The miracle I want may not come; the miracle I receive may not be the one I had expected. I am grateful, nonetheless. And I hold on to the promise that all my physical challenges will somehow be for my spiritual development.
The pandemic has proven to be for my good. I am now able to participate in many events from my home, something that I struggled with before. Due to Physical pain, sacrament meeting used to be an endurance test for me; now I can relax and feel the Spirit without the suffering. This blessing of participation is magnified with Sunday School, Relief Society, stake conferences, and Zoom meetings unavailable prior to the pandemic. Heavenly Father assures us: “your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord…and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:2-3).
I am grateful for the counsel of a prophet to make a list of the promises to covenant Israel and then to watch for those promises to be fulfilled in my life. This counsel has blessed me with an increased perspective of the presence of God in ways I had not previously considered. I am more cognizant of the blessings I receive daily. As President Nelson suggested, I am “astounded!” I believe you may be astounded too.