At the end of the very first chapter in the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that he “will show unto us that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (1 Nephi 1:20).
And then in the very last chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni tells us that as we have read through the book and now we are finishing it up, we should “remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” (Moroni 10:3)
The Book of Mormon is a record of tender mercies from the Lord.
Of course I’ve read these verses many many times before, and I know that the Book of Mormon testifies of the love of Jesus Christ, but this time I wanted to take a more thorough approach and take note of the data.
So as I’ve been studying every day, whenever I notice a tender mercy, I draw a little red heart next to that verse.
I’m only a few weeks into this study/search but I’ve already been so amazed at what I am seeing – really seeing for the first time. Jesus Christ is everywhere in The Book of Mormon. And not just that His name is mentioned everywhere, but that He is interacting with the individual people. He is building His relationship with them, individually. The scriptures contain stories of His people, in relationship with Him. When we read the scriptures, we are watching people interact with Him.
The more I do this search, the more I am noticing not only the obvious tender mercies -like Nephi being given the strength to get out of the ropes that his brothers tied him up with, but also the less obvious tender mercies – like the Lord giving the daughter of Ishmael the courage to stand up for Nephi against Laman and Lemuel, or the Lord accepting Laman and Lemuel’s repentance and forgiving them, or the Lord providing seeds of every kind for them to take on their journey, or the Lord giving Sam the spiritual gift to believe on Nephi’s words.
The tender mercies of the Lord are everywhere. I just finished 1st Nephi this morning and I’ve already found 222 tender mercies! And I’m sure I’ve even missed some.
Because of this study/search, tender mercies have been on my radar. I’ve been looking for them in my own life. I’ve been seeking to open up my eyes and ears more and to notice Jesus in my own daily life.
An insight from David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman that I really liked was from 1 Nephi 2:9. Lehi is talking to Laman and when he “saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!”
David pointed out that the fountain of all righteousness is another name for Jesus. I found evidence of this in Ether… “Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.” (Ether 8:26) and “Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.” (Ether 12:28)
Then Emily suggested that you could replace “fountain of all righteousness” in Lehi’s words to Laman with “Jesus Christ”. Lehi’s message to Laman could be “you know what I wish for you? that you would just continually run into Jesus Christ. Be on the lookout for Him. Be conscious of the moments when you run into Him throughout the day. You will have these little moments of interaction with Him, multiple times a day. Watch for those. Watch for Him. Notice where and when He shows up. Look for Him in your story. Where is He being great? Where is He being tender? Where is He being merciful?” What if you lived your life like that – that you were just continually running into Him all day long… “Oh, I saw Him here… and then I saw Him again here… and then I saw Him here…” and it became just that fluid process of your life?
I loved those thoughts! So that’s what I’ve been seeking to do in my own life. In the Book of Mormon, I see evidence over and over and over again of Jesus interacting with individuals and building His relationship with them. As I do my daily study, I am constantly running into Him throughout the pages of the Book of Mormon. And I know that the same is true for me in my own personal life. Most of the time, I just don’t recognize it. It’s easy to see the obvious things, but I’m seeking to keep my eyes and ears out for the less obvious ones too.
Lately, when I notice a tender mercy in my own life (or in the lives of Jershon or my kids), I take mental note of it and visualize myself drawing a little red heart next to it in the record of my life. I wish I had the time to write them all down, but I would probably never be able to put my pen and paper down. Jesus Christ shows up everywhere.
The more I look for Him, the more I find Him. And the more I find Him, the stronger my relationship with Him becomes. That relationship is the fruit of the tree of life. That relationship is sweet above all that is sweet. (see Alma 32:42)
I love the words of Elder Holland:
“surely the most thrilling sight and sound in life is that of Jesus not only passing by but His coming to us, stopping beside us, and making His abode with us.”
The moments when I feel Jesus Christ near me truly are thrilling. Those experiences are the most desirable above all things and the most joyous to my soul. (see 1 Nephi 11:22-23)