We were deeply moved when we studied 2 Nephi 1-5 and reviewed the February 3-9, 2020 Book of Mormon resources in the Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families manual. These readings reminded us of the total upheaval of Nephi’s family. On a moment’s notice, they packed up and left their home in Israel: turning their backs on all of their wealth and standing in their community because of revelations from God received by Lehi, their father. Murmurings and disbelief occurred among them before they even left. They had to move swiftly as their lives were at stake. Then they built a boat under great duress.
Then, in enclosed quarters, they crossed the ocean with the family arguing and fighting along the way.
On top of these family hostilities, we cannot comprehend all of the hardships this family endured when they landed in a new country and had to start over again. The hatred of Laman and Lemuel was so intense that it divided the family in half. Nephi was warned by God, “depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me” (2 Nephi 5:5). As a result, Nephi and his followers ran away into unknown lands, believing that with the Lord’s help they could start anew and live in safety.
Of these experiences Nephi writes, “and it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). His statement led us to ask: “How can we also find this same kind of happiness?”
Facing Life’s Challenges Together
We are aware that we are here on earth to be tested and tried, but we also need to be happy. By doing so, we can be great examples to others for how we face our challenges. When facing tough times in my family, I have always used the words, “Stay the course.” Blessings and answers are always waiting for us; giving up is not a thought or option. Staying the course and allowing Heavenly Father to do His will has helped our family overcome many hiccups and brought our family great happiness.
For example, my husband, Earl, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a number of years ago, just as we retired. We could not fathom what problems we were going to face because neither of us knew anything about Parkinson’s. Neither did the doctor, who gave us this diagnosis, explain what physical and emotional challenges we were likely to face. While standing in the hall outside the doctor’s office, I took Earl by the arm and said: “I don’t know what we’re in for, but whatever it is, you are mine, and we’re in it together. As long as I’m alive and kicking, I don’t want you to ever worry about anything because you have me, and we’re going to do this together.” Then, I kissed him and held him close as we walked down the stairs together, threw open the clinic doors together, got into our truck and drove away together. We unitedly embarked into a whole new beginning of our married life. We prayerfully made course corrections to our lives immediately.
Regardless of the daunting challenges, we have tried to walk according to the example of “The Living Christ.” We know beyond a doubt that seeking to live according to the Lord’s will is the one and only way to happiness!
Following Jesus Is the Way
At the Last Supper, the Apostle Thomas asked, “How can we know the way?”; and Jesus responded, “I am the way, the truth, and life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me … And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:5-6, 13).
Concerning Christ’s answer, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “What a promise! Live my way, live my truth, live my life—live in this manner that I am showing you and teaching you—and whatsoever you ask will be given, whatsoever you seek you will find, including happiness. Parts of the blessing may come soon, parts may come later, and parts may not come until heaven, but they will come—all of them. What encouragement that is after a blue Monday or a sad Tuesday or a tearful Wednesday!” (“Living After the Manner of Happiness,” [Brigham Young University-Idaho devotional, Oct. 2, 2014]; byui.edu).
Elder Holland helps us understand how to deal with trials and problems—we should all turn to our Lord and Savior. Despite all the problems Nephi faced in his life, he did “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:20).
This is how Earl and I have always faced our challenges—head-on with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine how Earl must have felt with this devastating news out of the blue, but I do know that his faith has been unwavering. He knows that he is on a sure path back to Heavenly Father. We are living “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8): safely in the Lord’s hands. We want to live to be exalted. We both accepted the challenges before we came to earth; we want to live to our fullest measure while we are here. This is what Nephi was telling us by saying, he and his people “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27).