1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2. Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.1 Nephi 4:1-2
By the end of part 1, we are left feeling dejected with little hope.
Let’s say some time passes. Like Nephi, we’ve regained our confidence. We self started, or someone gave us a boost, but we have that motivation again. We begin again to feel like we have control. Perhaps we feel like Moses who commanded the waters to part.
Now when I had spoken these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.1 Nephi 4:4
Although we feel confident and ready to take on the world, it’s possible that those close to us aren’t convinced. So, the only way to prove ourselves is through action. Soon enough in the night, while our friends are away hidden without the walls, we find ourselves creeping back into the city towards the house of Laban.
And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.1 Nephi 4:6
This time we are prepared. We’ve been studying our scriptures, praying regularly, attending church and partaking of the sacrament. We’ve been prepping on all fronts: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We are led by the spirit.
7 Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.
8 And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.1 Nephi 4:7-8
Now, with much strength and preparation we meet our trial face to face.
And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.1 Nephi 4:9
We see the blade that would normally destroy us. Right now, Laban represents our afflictions, the devices that would normally bring about our relapse into addiction, our impatience, our anger, or fears.
However the Lord has placed in our hands the very weapon we need to overcome our weaknesses. In the hands of the enemy the sword represents unholiness, lies, deceit, pain, anger, depression, etc. In our hands, with the Lord on our side, it represents truth and righteousness, forgiveness and love, mercy and justice. It represents our friends, and family who support us. It represents the tools and guidance the Lord has provided for us to overcome all things.
And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.1 Nephi 4:10
At first we might shrink, thinking “I’ve never been able to defeat my addiction before,” or “Am I not justified in being angry in this situation?”
And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lordhath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.1 Nephi 4:11
Then we feel that Spirit again inside us, whispering that the affliction threatens us, and we remember the pain and suffering that this affliction has caused us in the past. We remember that we desire to be obedient to the Lord, and that this affliction will take away our agency.
And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;1 Nephi 4:12
We are reminded that we have been prepared for this. We knew when this trial came again that we would do anything to get through it.
Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.1 Nephi 4:13
We know that we need to give up this habit, or this behavior, so that we do not perish. Our perishing would would have a rippling effect on everyone around us. We remember that the Lord promise us in the wilderness that inasmuch as we kept the commandments, we would prosper in the land of promise.
Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.1 Nephi 4:18
Shaking off the temptation, minds clear, we overcome the trial. With this battle won we find that we’ve learned something. We’ve gained something important from this experience.
Nephi strategizes by putting on Laban’s garments and armor, then speaks with Laban’s servant Zoram as if Nephi were Laban. We too can strategize like Nephi by preparing:
- Spiritually through scripture study and prayer.
- Mentally by learning and gaining an education.
- Physically through regular exercise.
- Emotionally through open communication.
- Strategically by avoiding common situations that would cause temptation or relapse.
Next time a temptation arises we will be better equipped to overcome it. We will be able to walk right into Laban’s quarters and take the brass plates and leave Jerusalem behind.
28 And it came to pass that when Laman saw me he was exceedingly frightened, and also Lemuel and Sam. And they fled from before my presence; for they supposed it was Laban, and that he had slain me and had sought to take away their lives also.
29 And it came to pass that I called after them, and they did hear me; wherefore they did cease to flee from my presence.1 Nephi 4:28-29
If we continuously overcome our afflictions we will be able to call out to those close to us and tell them that we are okay. That they might cease to flee from our presence.
30 And it came to pass that when the servant of Laban beheld my brethren he began to tremble, and was about to flee from before me and return to the city of Jerusalem.
31 And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.1 Nephi 4:30-31
Now with support from those close to us, we will be able to conquer our affliction and seize upon them before they cause us pain.
33 And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us.
34 And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us.
35 And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.1 Nephi 4:33-35
Like Zoram, who could have been a disaster if let go- we too carry our afflictions with us. They will always be a part of us, and that’s okay. Zoram eventually becomes Nephi’s good friend. We may not necessarily become friends with our afflictions, but we will learn to cope, we will learn to overcome, and we will learn to help those around us who also suffer.
And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him.1 Nephi 4:37
When we make peace with our personal Zoram, our affliction, we become more understanding, patient, and our fears do cease. I know with all my heart that it is not easy. It’s not simple, it feels like no one will understand what you’re going through. It feels like every victory is met with a thousand failures. It feels like every time we think we’re alright, something beats us up.
And it came to pass that we took the plates of brass and the servant of Laban, and departed into the wilderness, and journeyed unto the tent of our father.1 Nephi 4:38
However, I know also that throughout all this strife and difficulty, that Heavenly Father is building us up, teaching us, and showing us His ways. Life is hard, but we don’t have to do it alone. I know that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that we too can take the brass plates, overcome all things, and return to our father in heaven who is mightier than all men.