I am on a quest to better understand how to seek and rely upon the strength of the Lord . In my last two posts, you may have noticed a theme, which is trusting the Lord; trusting He will deliver me ; trusting He will help me bear my cross ; trusting He will be there for me when I need Him. I am coming to learn that experiencing the strength of the Lord in my life is directly tied to my faith and trusting Him. How to utilize the strength of the Lord in my life may be different than I originally understood. Over the years, as I have read Nephi’s description of bursting the bands, which held him bound, I have always imagined that he instantaneously developed some sort of Herculean strength. And then, this Herculean strength made the bands almost disintegrate with the least effort. Here is what Nephi said:
But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.
And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again. ( 1 Nephi 7:17-18 )
I now believe that it is not important how the bands came loose, except that Nephi knew his strength originated in the Lord’s strength, not his own. Nephi knew whatever means was required to burst the bands and be loosed would be provided by the Lord in His time and His manner. Whether the bands immediately broke like thin cotton threads, then fell to the ground by slipping off Nephi’s hands and feet like loose rubber bands, or if he had to wiggle, struggle, pull, twist, and gnaw at the bands until he was free was not his concern. He knew what he needed, which was to be free from the bands. If he needed wisdom to know what to do, then it would be provided too. He had faith that whatever he needed, when he needed it, would be provided at the right time and in the right way.
The vitally important point is that the Lord knows what I need, when I need it, and how I am to use whatever He provides. Many times in my life I think I know what I should do—only to fall flat on my face—not properly relying on the Lord. Following is an example of when I did not trust the Lord enough to lean on His strength.
Our bishop had given me a speaking assignment for Sacrament meeting. The topic was assigned and I spent the week diligently preparing my talk. That Sunday the symptoms of my chronic illness really flared up; I felt very weak, but thought if I just stuck to my well-prepared talk, all would be well. I stood at the pulpit and started delivering my talk in almost a mechanical manner, because I felt so weakened by my illness. I remember the Spirit clearly whispered to me, “put the talk down and trust Me.” I questioned whether or not I really had the strength to do this. I thought, if I just plow through my talk, then it would be over, and I could sit down and rest. The feeling came again, but once again I ignored it, closing myself to the strength of the Lord and the influence of the Holy Ghost. I pressed forward with my limited strength and presented one of the worst talks I have ever given.
I now realize my mistake; lack of trust and lack of obedience to the Holy Ghost prevented me from knowing what would have happened If I had had sufficient faith to lean on the Lord. My guess is, based on other experiences when I have followed promptings like this, that the Lord would have filled my mouth, and provided me with strength beyond my own. I would have given the talk the Lord wanted me to give, not the one I had prepared and struggled with. That day, not trusting in the strength of the Lord was my sin, which I hope to never do again.
Nephi is the model example of one who trusted the Lord enough to endure trials, and do whatever the Lord required from him (see 1 Nephi 3:7). He showed his trust in the Lord while bound during the ocean voyage and submitted himself to great suffering (see 1 Nephi 18:9-16, 20-21 ). Why did he not pray for immediate deliverance? I think it is because Nephi clearly understood that his prayers must be guided by the Holy Ghost, so his prayers were not amiss. Nephi teaches:
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh . Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss ; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
( 2 Nephi 4:35 , emphasis added; see also: 2 Nephi 32:2-5, 8-9 .)
My guess is, because of Nephi’s prayers, he knew the Lord’s will. He may not have known the reasons the Lord may have had for his suffering, but he trusted the Lord, and the Lord strengthened him during his trials. Nephi said, “And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm” ( 1 Nephi 18:21 ). Maybe he was willing to suffer being bound while on the ship to help all of us who read his story increase our faith, and learn as he did, to trust in the strength of the Lord.
My Ongoing Quest
In my ongoing quest I have learned, and continue to learn, that trusting the Lord, and in the strength of the Lord will always be a blessing, regardless of the trial or outcome. During trials, the Lord has required me to step into my un-comfort zone more times than I can count. Currently, I am standing right in the middle of my un-comfort zone. However, as I push forward with faith and with my hand firmly in His, then I can trust Him. His strength will see me through to the end.
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