Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Complaining in 1 Nephi

Recently I read something that suggested that when similar events reoccur in the Book of Mormon, we should study those events to see what the differences are between those events. Something that happens over and over in 1 Nephi is complaining and murmuring, so I decided to study the different incidents to see what I could learn. I ended up making a chart in which I examined who did the complaining, what was complained about, and then what the solution turned out to be. I felt this was important for me to study because I recently had a few days of complaining against the Lord and I got heavenly admonishment for it, so I wanted to learn what I could do to fortify myself against situations that might cause me to complain.

Some questions I asked myself after having made this chart were the following:

Is there a pattern in the type of things that Laman & Lemuel complain about?

Do the types of things they complain about change over time?

If so, how does it change?

How are the complaints solved?

Who tends to administer the solutions to the complaints?

Who complains besides Laman & Lemuel and why?

Who doesn’t complain? Why?

Why do Laman & Lemuel change from complaint to anger? What are they angry about? Are these good reasons to be angry?

Reference & eventWho complainsCause of ComplaintSolution
1 Nephi 2:11-13

leaving Jerusalem

Laman & Lemuel

Father Lehi is a visionary man

Father led family out of Jerusalem

We left precious things behind

We will perish in the wilderness

Lehi speaks with power and the Spirit

Lehi confounds them

Their frames shake

They dare not speak against him

They obey

1 Nephi 3:5

getting the plates

Laman & LemuelWe have to get the plates from Laban (hard thing)Sam & Nephi to go with them
1 Nephi 3:28

losing family inheritance to Laban

Laman & Lemuel

(beat Sam & Nephi,

speak hard words)

We lost all property to Laban

We have not obtained the plates

(returning to Jerusalem to the same standard of living as before is now not an option)

Angel comes

Angel chastises L & L

Angel commands them to go get plates

Nephi goes to get plates, succeeds

1 Nephi 5:2

waiting for sons to return with plates

SariahHusband Lehi is a visionary man

I’ve been led from land of inheritance

My sons have perished

My family will perish

Lehi comforts her:

(“I am visionary, I’ve seen things of God, I know God’s goodness, We’ve left Jerusalem so we won’t perish, We’ve obtained a land of promise, The Lord will save our sons”)

Lehi’s sons return safe with the plates

1 Nephi 7:6-7

returning from getting Ishmael’s family

Laman & Lemuel,

2 daughters of Ishmael,

2 sons of Ishmael + their families


(We want to return to Jerusalem)

Nephi chastises Laman & Lemuel

1 daughter of Ishmael + wife of Ishmael plead for Nephi

Laman & Lemuel repent

1 Nephi 16:1

Nephi explaining Lehi’s dream and prophecies

Laman & LemuelNephi speaks hard things we can’t bear about no unclean thing inheriting kingdom of God and being cast out as filthinessNephi exhorts brothers to diligence
1 Nephi 16:18-22

Nephi breaks his bow

Laman & Lemuel,

sons of Ishmael,


Nephi broke his bow

Our families obtain no food

We’re tired

We’ve suffered and affliction in the wilderness

Laman & Lemuel’s bows lost their springs

God (is making us do this)

Nephi makes a bow and arrow

Nephi asks Lehi where to hunt for food

Voice of the Lord chastens Lehi

New words written on Liahona to give understanding of the Lord’s ways

Families fear and tremble

Nephi observes guidance comes with faith and diligence

Nephi gets food

1 Nephi 16: 35-38

Ishmael’s death

Daughters of Ishmael,

Laman (to Lemuel, sons of Ishmael)

D: Father Ishmael has died in the wilderness

We’ve wandered much in the wilderness

We’ve suffered hunger, thirst, fatigue

We’ll die in the wilderness of hunger

L: Nephi is acting as ruler, getting revelations (suspicious of Nephi’s motives, stirring others to ANGER)

Voice of the Lord speaks to them (which ones? All of them?)

Voice of the Lord chastens them exceedingly

They repent

Blessed with food

1 Nephi 17:17-18, 19-22

Nephi starts to build ship

Laman & LemuelNephi is trying to build a ship (foolish, no boat can cross the waters, don’t want to work, don’t think God commanded him)

Our wives had to labor hard while pregnant

We might have enjoyed inheritance during all this

We might have been happy at Jerusalem

Death would be better than what we went through

Jerusalem was righteous

Lehi judged Jerusalem unjustly

ANGER at Nephi’s words

Nephi preaches to L & L (God has chastened them like rebellious children of Israel, the righteous are favored, Israel was ripe for destruction, L & L are murderers in their hearts, L & L past feeling, fear L & L will be cast off,God can command me and help me build ship)

Nephi: “Touch me not!”

God tells Nephi to shock L & L

L & L repent

1 Nephi 18:9,10,17

While on the ship

Laman & Lemuel,

Sons of Ishmael

Nephi speaks soberly to us about our rudeness

Nephi is trying to rule over us

ANGER (they tie him up)

Others are pleading for Nephi

Huge 4 day storm

(Liahona stops working, Lehi speaks to them,family cries, parents about to die)

All about to be swallowed by mountain waves

2 Nephi 4:13

Nephi preaches after Lehi’s death

Laman & Lemuel,

Sons of Ishmael

ANGER at Nephi because of admonitions of the Lord

We think Nephi wants to rule over us

We’ve had trial because of Nephi

We don’t get to rule over the people

(Nephi prays)

(Nephi takes good people and leaves)

So, the following things can lead to complaining:
  • Having one’s course of life unexpectedly changed in a direction one doesn’t like
  • Being unexpectedly asked/commanded to complete a large and complicated project
  • Trying to do something important and then failing or having an unexpected setback
  • Loss of valuable belongings
  • Breakage of important tools
  • Circumstances of physical hardship—hunger, thirst, fatigue, extended suffering
  • Seeing loved ones suffer
  • Feeling one’s own common sense suggestions are being ignored in favor of a risky course with no end in sight
I noticed that Laman and Lemuel begin to try to add greater weight to their complaints by rehearsing past complaints as well. At the same time, they forget the blessings that have come. This shows me that rehearsing all past problems along with current complaints without acknowledging past solutions is ungrateful and only makes it worse.

I also noticed a progression through these incidents:
  1. Being swift to do iniquity and slow to remember the Lord causes our hearts to harden. (1 Nephi 17:45)
  2. Complaining arises from a hard heart.
  3. Complaining about circumstances gradually leads to complaining about the people who seem to bring these circumstances.
  4. Complaining against people leads to anger against people (even righteous people)
  5. There may be a reason for complaint, but when ANGER enters it, soon any kind of reason is enough to raise anger. Anger is unreasonable.
Nephi always responds to complaints and murmuring by preaching faith in the Lord, using examples from the scriptures and from shared past experiences.
Nephi cries to the Lord in difficulty.
Nephi doesn’t complain in difficulty; he focuses on being part of the solution and he keeps trying solutions.
Nephi only complains once (instance not on the chart), but that is about his own sins and the temptations that so easily beset him, and then he quickly remembers all the Lord has done for him and prays for strength. (see 2 Nephi 4:17-35)

Doctrines that help us not complain:
  • The righteous don’t do anything except by (or according to) the word of God. (The righteous get their assignments from God.) (1 Nephi 17:3)
  • If God has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that He can’t instruct me to__________? (1 Nephi 17:51)
  • If God commanded me to do all things, I could do them. (1 Nephi 17:50)
  • The Lord makes us mighty. (1 Nephi 17:32)
  • The Lord goes before us, leading by day and giving light by night, doing all things for us which are expedient for us to receive. (1 Nephi 17:30)
  • The Lord prepares a way for us to accomplish His commandments (1 Nephi 3:7)
  • If we keep the commandments, we will be led to a better place. (1 Nephi 17:13)

Is there anything that you’ve learned that helps you not complain? Will you share with me a time when you didn’t complain when in difficulty and were blessed?


Jocelyn Christensen said...

this is excellent! I'm going to print if off and hang it on my fridge to remind myself!

I do have a great story for you. My sister and her husband were dealing with a messy situation with a landscaper. He didn't do the job, they didn't complete it or do it correctly and he over-charged and left a mess everywhere. My sister thought about taking him to court and they would have had a good case, but then they decided that the anger wasn't worth it.

So they decided to forgive and clean the mess up themselves.

Well, as a family, they were removing the mess that he left behind and when they did, my brother-in-law found a diamond ring lying in the street underneath one of the piles that the landscaper had left behind.

Long story short...it ended up being the wedding ring that my sister had lost six years earlier!!! They count it as a miracle, a tender mercy, a blessing, and a confirmation that their righteous choice to "not murmur" and to move forward in forgiveness was the correct one.

Michaela Stephens said...

What a neat story! Thanks for sharing it.