1 Nephi 18:8-23
Nephi, ever stalwart, records in 1 Nephi 18:23 that “after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land.” The preceding verses tell of the family’s embarkation and the beginning of their journey to the promised land. The Liahona shows Nephi where to steer, they have plenty of provisions, and everything is going well, fair weather and all. But then Laman and Lemuel stir things up, eventually getting mad enough at Nephi that they tie him up. Bad weather engulfs the ship and the Liahona stops working. After four days of tempest tossed seas, Laman and Lemuel finally release Nephi.
In the midst of this family drama at sea, and even while tied up in a lot of pain, Nephi maintains his faith and trust in God: “I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (v. 16). I remember years ago when God made me a promise at the outset of my mission that everything in my life would work out afterwards. Everything working out was my promised land. And even though I could literally count the days until then, I couldn’t have fathomed what lay between the delivery of the promise and its fulfillment. I in no way anticipated the challenges of those months, thinking and then wishing that I had already finished and reached my promised land.
Nephi’s perspective is so much healthier (temporally and spiritually) than mine was. Where I felt a tremendous amount of bitterness and impatience, Nephi felt gratitude and trust. Where I asked “why me?”, Nephi prayed for his oppressors and for the power of God to be made manifest. It will always be true that when the Lord makes a promise, He will fulfill it in His time. It is up to us to live worthy of the fulfillment no matter what challenges or length of time lies between.