1 Nephi 1:1
Nephi shares with us a unique perspective. He sums up his life experience with the following statement:
… having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
Today, we all experience some form of affliction in our lives. Whether this is due to a state of pain, distress, grief of misery; or caused by mental or bodily pain – such as sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution – there is not a single person who has lived a life wholly free from affliction .
As we read Nephi’s account, we find that he has experienced all manner of affliction. Persecution from his brothers, bodily pain and exhaustion from the trek into the wilderness and building of the ship at Bountiful, loss of family members, and even some mental anguish that comes on during times of duress. The question is how did Nephi deal with such instances? How was he able to develop his faith amidst the most trying times in his life?
Nephi gives two key factors here. First, he relates that he had been highly favored of the Lord in all his days. Secondly, he possessed a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God. We will examine these two key points as well as how we can apply them in our lives.
What does it mean to be highly favored of the Lord?
When we think of someone who is highly favored of the Lord, we think of those great patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, et all. These great men of faith, giants among men who rose up and stood for the truth in midst of discord, persecution, and slander as they turned to God and lived their lives according to God’s will. Yet, each one of these men had humble beginnings. They did not wake up one morning being the great men of faith that we have now come to know and understand. Their greatness developed over time. Their faith started out small and grew great. All of them even experienced times where they were less than honorable. Peter denied Christ three times for fear of any retribution. David committed adultery and murder to hide his affair with Bathsheba. Abraham shunned his first born at the bequest of his wife because his wife Sara was envious of her maidservant.
Right now, we may not be in a position of great faith. We may question our own faith in the reality and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, we still have faith. We still have hope. We still are able to overcome those things that we face. In essence, as one church reader board had said at one time: If he is able to bring you to it, he is able to bring you through it. Even the Apostle Paul teaches us that we can do all things through Christ, Jesus who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Yet, as we place our faith on Jesus Christ, as we cling to him, and seek after him, we are promised that the yoke will be light, and the burden will be bearable (see Matthew 11:30).
Thus, when we look at how we can find favor of the Lord, we come to the realization that as we submit ourselves to be humble, sincere, and obedient to His will, there is strength, power, and comfort that fills our lives. Moreover, as our faith grows, so also does our confidence and the ability for us to seek after the Savior and our loving Heavenly Father. Scripture even declares that we ought to lean unto the Lord and not our own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5).
Therefore, when we come to how we can grow and cultivate our faith in the Lord, we understand that we must constantly seek out our Heavenly Father’s counsel in all things we do, we must forsake those things in our lives that may prevent us from worshipping our Heavenly Father, and we must allow ourselves to follow the counsel given. Whether this counsel is contained in Holy Writ or it comes from Latter-day Prophets and Apostles whom our Heavenly Father has called to lead and guide His Church.
It is when we cultivate our faith; exercise our faith, that we will find favor in the Lord. In essence, this sum up the way we may find favor in the Lord:
Finding favor with God is discovered in a personal relationship with the Lord where He teaches you daily and You know Him face to face…. His presence is with you and His peace fills Your life .
Therefore, Nephi shares with us that he found favor with the Lord because he consistently sought out the Lord; he prayed to our Heavenly Father, he sought counsel in all things he had done, and came to develop an intimate and real relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This is important to have because when we come to the second key principle of 1 Nephi 1:1, we see that through this intimate relationship, Nephi came to knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Having a knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God
As previously discussed, when we cultivate our relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we come to know and understand the intimate things of heaven. In the Ancient times of the Old Testament era, the term “mysteries of God” and “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” were constantly talked about by those men who became intimate with God. The question is what are the mysteries of God that these re-knowned men of faith understood? In addition, how does this relate to Nephi and the account of Nephi’s dealings in a new world far removed from the city of his ancestors?
The answer is simple: The goodness and mysteries of God is the revelation of a coming Messiah. A messiah that will come to redeem humanity from the effects of the fall, conquering sin and death so that we are able to return back to our Heavenly home we had once shared with Christ. Through our faith, the plan of salvation is fully realized, understood, and applied. It is not an expression of words, it is not a formal creedal affirmation, it is the unadulterated revelation that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God, and the purpose of our life and our relationship to our Father in Heaven.
In his great priestly prayer (see John 17), we read about Christ praying for himself, praying for his disciples, and praying for restoration of glory and honor that he previously held with the Father in the Beginning. Within this prayer, Christ states that the purpose of our existence is to come to know our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ whom the Father had sent (John 17:3).
Through modern day revelation, we also learn that the purpose of God is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of humanity (see Moses 1:39-40). Hence, as we draw close to the Savior, we draw close to the Father, and as we draw close to the Father, we will gain knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God.
Make a record of the proceedings of our days
The third principle we learn here is that of journaling and record keeping. Nephi concludes that he makes a record of those things that have occurred in his day –both spiritual and temporal. We do not know all that Nephi recorded; however, we do know that the Book of Mormon contains part of his record that he kept. In our lives today, as we learn to draw closer to our Heavenly Father, and as we experience afflictions in the course of our own day, we should take up a record of how those things affects our lives, the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of the circumstances surrounding those dealings. How we exercise faith in our Savior and our Heavenly Father.
Why would we want to keep this record? As we go through life, each experience is replaced by another more significant experience. Sometimes, recalling memories can be a bit hazy and sketchy. Having recorded such experiences, we are able to look back and see the miracles of our Heavenly Father working in our lives. Not only see these miracles, but the development of our faith through those trials we experienced and overcame. These records also allows our prosperity to read our own accounts of how we applied the principles of the Gospel, the testimony of the deepening assurance that our Heavenly Father loves, guides, and protects us – especially in times of affliction when we are under great duress.
As we go through our lives, take a moment to reflect on where you are. Even if you believe there is not a loving Heavenly Father who looks over our lives; I ask you to take a moment to reflect on this one truth. Whom do we turn to in times of trial? Where do we go to seek comfort and advice? Most of us would most likely say that we would seek out our father. We would seek out his counsel, his words of encouragement, and even a shoulder to lean on. As little children, we always looked to our Father and even our mother for support. Without them, we would not have received the nurture that children need to grow and prosper in their own lives.
Furthermore, some even question how a loving Father will allow tragedies take the lives of many innocent people. How could a loving Father allow people to starve, suffer great anxiety and pains in life? The answer to this question is based on what Lehi taught. If we never faced any type of opposition, our lives will be meaningless. There would be no hope for us, there would be no reason to grow, to learn, to strengthen our talents and abilities. Everything would remain as it is, and we would not have gained any knowledge into the purpose that our Heavenly Father has in store for us.
No matter the afflictions that we may face now, or in the future – or, even those afflictions that we have experienced in our past – we have a loving Heavenly Father that waits for us to turn to him, to seek him out, and to come unto him. He has provided the hope and the means for us to be strengthened, to be encouraged, and to live a life that is pleasing and fulfilling. As we come to know our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, we will find favor in his sight, and we will come to know and understand the atonement of Jesus Christ as we apply it in our daily lives.
Yes, we have seen, and will see, many afflictions in the course of our days. Let us be like Nephi and find favor in the sight of our Heavenly Father. In doing so, we come to the intimate knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s goodness and mysteries. Then, let us record those experiences so that we can reflect on how our faith, how our lives, and how we have grown in the Gospel of Jesus Christ where we can stand blameless and honorable before that day when we have to give an account for all things that we have done and experienced.
Let us come unto Christ and learn of him.
 Affliction. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Affliction
 Lewis, M. (2011, February 15). Pastor Michael’s blog [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://pastorlewis.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-favor-in-lord-sight.html