(This is an excerpt from 52 Life-Changing Questions from the Book of Mormon by Brad Wilcox and John Hilton III
Nephi wrote, “Not many days after [Lehi’s] death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:13). It was at this low point that Nephi poured his heart out to the Lord in a prayer that is recorded in 2 Nephi 4. After expressing deepest feelings of despair and frustration, Nephi’s feelings began to change. He then shared some of the most poignant questions in the Book of Mormon. Consider one of them: “Why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?” (2 Nephi 4:26). There are times when each of us can relate to Nephi’s discouragement.
Adversity arises, circumstances change, challenges come, and those we love make choices that break our hearts. We feel alone, and we are filled with despair. In such moments, it would be well for us to echo Nephi’s rallying cry: “Why should my heart weep?” Nephi chose to recognize the Lord’s blessings to him and the support and strength he had received through all of his trials. His desperate cries turned to praise for the Lord and rejoicing in His goodness.
Focusing on our blessings can help us avoid self-pity and feelings of hopelessness. Expressing gratitude in moments of despair may provide us a great spiritual boost and help us move forward with improved perspective and hope. Nephi focused on the goodness of God to him in the past (2 Nephi 4:20–25), and he also did something else. He turned to God for strength in the present. He cried out, saying, “May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!” (2 Nephi 4:32). We in the modern day may also turn to God even when we are in the depths of despondency.
(John Hilton III and Brad Wilcox, 52 Life-Changing Questions from the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 40–41).