2 Nephi 11:2 says:
And now, I Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delights in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.
I’ll be honest. I don’t delight in the words of Isaiah. I find his words very confusing and cryptic. Given the sheer number of books that are solely dedicated to explaining Isaiah, I think it’s safe to assume I’m not the only one. I do however, give myself a little mental high five whenever I manage to understand him. I’m getting much better, but sometimes there is no amount of mental gymnastics that will make the dots connect for me (I’ve decided to put “Isaiah for Airheads” on my Christmas list, but if you have another book to recommend I would love to know).
Now, while I don’t currently understand Isaiah, I do want to understand Isaiah. I want to delight in his words because Nephi delights in them. And I delight in the words of Nephi.
…And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted…why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow…because of mine afflictions? And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yeah, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my should? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not shaken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yeah, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation. (2 Nephi 4:19-30)
The first time I read that passage out loud to my kids, the reverent silence that followed was broken only by Emma’s tiny, “Wow.” At ten years old, Emma could feel the truth and power in Nephi’s words. She could hear the poetry and magnificence of a prophet of God, testifying from the dust. And she could relate to him.
A ten year old’s heart knows what it feels like to be so upset that you feel completely incapable of functioning. In fact, I think most newborns know that feeling. As we grow we hopefully learn coping mechanisms to help us through our struggles. But even the best of us find that sometimes the emotions are just too much for our mortal bodies to handle gracefully (or at all).
I delight in the words of Nephi because I can relate to them. He has felt the same things that I have. I also delight in the words of Alma. When describing his conversion to his son, Alma says:
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yeah, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!… there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. (Alma 36:21)
Just as I know what it is like to linger in the valley of sorrow and to plead with the Lord to help me through my trials, I know exactly what it feels like to have that sorrow lifted from my heart and immediately replaced with hope. While I didn’t lead the life that Alma led prior to his miracle conversion, I have felt the same miraculous release from pain and anguish when I call upon that “one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins” of my heart. And in those times when the trial that is causing my pain isn’t changed, my heart is. I may still have to deal with all of the same stuff that was stressing me out to begin with, but my heart is filled with peace, love, and an understanding of how I should proceed.
You might not see why this gives me so much hope. I delight in the words of Nephi and Alma because they have experienced the same things that I have. But Nephi delights in the words of Isaiah, “for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him”. I have felt what Nephi has felt, and someday I will be able to see whom Nephi saw. I look forward to the day when I can relate to Isaiah in the same way that Nephi did and when I can say, “he saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.” Until that day comes, I’ll continue to learn, grow, and find happiness in the examples of Nephi, Alma, Mosiah, Heleman, Moroni, the brother of Jared, Mary, Emma, and the unnamed but no less important or faithful Saints who have seen my Lord, face to face.