We do family scripture study every morning before the kids leave at 6:00 for early morning seminary (a high school scripture study class before school.) I always get up and make breakfast at 5:45 so we can read and have family prayers before they have to leave. I don’t worry about how much we get through, but I read until I find a teaching principle. If I look for it, I always find something that I can expound on. This morning I felt a particular prompting to expound on the last sentence of this verse…
“And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you 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
Noticing those tender mercies leads us to have greater faith in the Lord because we actually see and acknowledge His hand in our lives. That faith allows the Lord to make our burdens light even to the extent of eventually delievering us from them.I repeated that last sentence and then I said, “This is the first time that Nephi talks directly to us in the Book of Mormon. He is telling us his purpose in writing it. By sharing his story and experiences, he wants us to learn how the Lord can bless and strength us through our difficulties and trials. He is a great example because he shows us that it is important to look for those blessings in our lives and not only notice them but write them down.” I also pointed out, “Noticing those tender mercies leads us to have greater faith in the Lord because we actually see and acknowledge His hand in our lives. That faith allows the Lord to make our burdens light even to the extent of eventually delievering us from them.” I reminded them of the story of the people of Alma in the Book of Mormon who were held captive by the Lamanites, but whose faith allowed the Lord to give them a tender mercy until the time of their deliverance. The verse reads…
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”-Mosiah 24:15
I challenged everyone to look for a tender mercy in their life today that they could share with the family at dinner. Then I said our family prayer. In the prayer I felt impressed to add, “Help us to remember to look for daily tender mercies and share them with each other and then keep them in a family journal.” The idea just popped into my head so I included it in the prayer. I was reminded of a talk that Henry B Eyring gave about a similar family journal, and as I said goodbye and sent my children off with their lunch. I resolved that I would post about this experience and look up the talk when I finished with my morning run.
As I was beginning to write this, I decided that I needed a definition for “Tender Mercies.” I also wanted to be able to expound on that idea for my children so that they would better understand what to look for. Our church has an excellent website with lots of cross referenced resources. I searched for that word and found a Mormon Message by David A. Bednar specifically on this topic. I am including the link below and I encourage you to watch it and show it to your families (Great Family Home Evening idea!) I also read his full talk and pulled out some of the information here. I am going to make a sign for our fridge about tender mercies that will remind us to do this everyday.
I already have the journal we will use. It is the rest of Scott’s personal journal which has been the biggest tender mercy to me in my life. I hadn’t planned on sharing this here, but I feel like I should this morning. My husband’s journals have become a great treasure to me because he used them to share his inner most feelings about his family, his personal scripture study, his gratitude for blessings, and other spiritual insight. What a treasure it was for me to find out that his expressions of love for me were not only things he said, but things that he felt strongly enough to bother to write in a very personal place that would only be read by others after he had passed away. They help me remember how he felt about me and they help me feel close to him. I had begun to tailor my journals after the same pattern so that the people who remain after I am gone might be able to have similar tender mercy in their lives.
But I have strayed from my intended topic….
Tender Mercies has become a very special word to me over the past almost year. I have become much more acutely aware of them.
“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ” -David A. Bednar,
Some examples of the tender mercies of the Lord include:
- The gift of faith and an appropriate sense of personal confidence that reaches beyond our own capacity
- Repentance and forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience
- Persistence and the fortitude that enable us to press forward with cheerfulness through physical limitations and spiritual difficulties
“The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence.” We need to acknowledge them as coming from the Lord. Helping ourselves and our children learn to notice and identify these things will help us to feel the Lord more abundantly in our lives and will give us the added strength we need to get through all the vicissitudes of life.
“Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.” “The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live.” “When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” -David A. Bednar
As far as recording these mercies I refer to the talk given by Henry B Erying who told of his personal experience with the Lord prompting him to create a family journal. He said, “I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family.” He talks about how he looked for those things. He asked questions like, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”
He said, “As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”
I find when I write spiritual impressions that the Lord more fully opens my mind to more impressions and knowledge, and my heart is filled with gratitude and greater understanding. This talk given in 2007 really stood out to me then, but it took the death of my husband to compel me to actually act on it. How sad it is to me that I have missed out on so much help because I was too stubborn to do what the spirit told me to do. I have resolved to be obedient to those prompting now and I am grateful that they come in greater abundance because I am more obedient. Teaching my children this principle has become very important to me because I know it will help them to grow spiritually and aid them in their life challenges.