Nephi’s Lamentations www.kevinhinckley.com
Elder Ballard Some years ago there was a rather serious tragedy in our ward. A great woman, the wife of our former bishop and a woman beloved and respected in our ward family, contracted cancer of the worst kind. This was a vivacious, effervescent woman who lifted and inspired everyone she met. As the disease became worse, I gave her blessings. …Another blessing was given to her when her son was eighteen. Our Heavenly Father, though, had something else in mind for her, and she was taken home to Him. A few days after the funeral service, I visited the father. I put my arm around him and asked, "What can I do to help?" His response was direct and heartfelt: "Help my son to understand." “[He doesn’t understand why] God would allow his dear mother to suffer the way she did," he said. "Russ, my son and my wife were the very best of friends. You have never seen a mother and son as close as they were. He loved her deeply. He prayed for her. He heard all the blessings that were given. He had faith that she would be healed—or, at the very least, would not have to suffer. Yet she suffered and died. He doesn't understand why." For days I tried to get in touch with this young man… I finally wrote him a letter and invited him to have lunch with me at the Church Administration Building… One Tuesday I returned to the office from a conference assignment, and my secretary informed me that my young neighbor and I had a lunch appointment for the following day. He arrived the next day exactly on time…
Question If you were Elder Ballard, what would you say to this boy?
Jacob Chapter 5 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard. And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Look hither; behold I have planted another branch of the tree also; and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree. I have nourished it this long time, and it hath brought forth much fruit; therefore, gather it, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self. And he said unto the servant: Look hither and behold the last. Behold, this have I planted in a good spot of ground; and I have nourished it this long time, and only a part of the tree hath brought forth tame fruit, and the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit; behold, I have nourished this tree like unto the others. Question: Do we know Saints who seem to have been planted in a “poor spot of ground”? What is the Lord telling us (and them)?
Nephi(Helaman 7) Behold, now it came to pass … that Nephi, the son of Helaman, returned to the land of Zarahemla from the land northward. For he … did preach the word of God unto them, and did prophesy many things unto them; And they did reject all his words, insomuch that he could not stay among them, but returned again unto the land of his nativity. And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats— having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, … doing no justice unto the children of men; Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money… to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and… that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—
His Lament Now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites, in the space of not many years; and when Nephi saw it, his heart was swollen with sorrow within his breast; and he did exclaim in the agony of his soul: Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord— Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren. But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren.
Neal A. Maxwell Like Alma, who wished for a trumpet-like voice of an angel, we too need to understand our motivations and limitations. Even so, let us use well the season in which we serve. Nephi wished, nostalgically, he'd lived in a different time, yet finally concluded, "But behold, I am consigned that these are my days.” Like Alma, he no doubt realized that he should not "desire more than to perform the work to which [he had] been called" (Alma 29:6). Faith in God includes faith in His wisdom in placing us in our particular time and place… At times, faith still leaves a poignant zone of perplexity and puzzlement as to just how much we can realistically strive to influence things affirmatively… Our emerging "why" questions can help us, however, to develop greater faith in God's purposes for us in our time, because answers do come to most "why" questions. That Ye May Believe, 156.
J.R.R Tolkien Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. ibid
Bonus quote by Tolkien It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him….
Questions In gospel discussions, when does asking why help us and when does it hurt us? How do we guard against destructive whys?
Elder Ballard Conclusion As we stepped off the elevator, we saw President Kimball walk through the back doors of the Church Administration Building. I was holding onto my friend's arm, and I felt a physical jolt hit him when he saw the prophet. It was as though somebody had touched him with a live electrical wire. We stood there a minute silently. Finally, he looked at me and asked, "Brother Ballard, does President Kimball ever see somebody like me?" "I don't know," I said. "Let's find out." We walked into his office. President Kimball got up from his desk and walked around to greet us. He took hold of my neighbor's hands and looked deeply into his eyes—and into his heart. "My boy," he said, "your mother is all right." Then he taught us a great lesson I will never forget. He said, "My boy, I've had some difficult times in my life. I didn't like the idea of having my vocal cords operated on. I didn't want that to happen. I didn't like the idea of being opened up when I was in my late seventies to have my heart worked on. But let me tell you something. Through my suffering, I have come to know God." Then President Kimball took hold of my friend, drew him close, and gave him a hug…