Recently, on an otherwise uneventful sunny day, a storm appeared out of seemingly nowhere. Storms are sometimes like that. Within a few minutes, torrential rain and wind gusts began to wreak havoc. Thunder and lightning crashed and we scrambled to secure open windows, wondering if our youngest daughter was ok. She was supposed to be walking home right then, but fortunately had stayed a little longer at her friend’s house and was safe. The worst of the storm lasted about twenty minutes but we heard sirens of emergency personnel well into the night. One 60-year-old tree crashed down just a few feet from our wall and car, resting upon an old marble monument. Storms can be scary.

The Nephites experienced “a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land” (3 Nephi 8:5). This storm had been prophesied by Samuel, the Lamanite, and people had been looking for it in great earnestness (3 Nephi 8:3). When the time had come, it caused much calamity and desolation as the earth mourned the death of our Savior. The storm caused “a great and terrible destruction” with tempests, thunder, earthquakes, and entire cities that caught fire and sunk into the depths of the earth (3 Ne. 8:6-19). The “quakings of the earth” lasted three hours and then thick darkness covered the face of the land for three days (3 Ne. 8:19-23). This was a literal and figurative dark time, with no light at all, not even a glimmer (3 Ne. 8: 22). There was “great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually” and they wished they had listened to the prophets repented sooner (3 Ne. 8: 23-24).

Storms of life can come out of nowhere, sometimes when we’re least expecting them. If we follow the prophet and our leaders, we can repent, hear the Lord’s voice in our lives, and find peace. The Nephites endured a dark storm, but were then blessed beyond measure as the Savior invited them to “arise and come forth” unto Him (3 Ne. 11:14). We, too, can trust in “the God who turns every dark night into morning light” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, quoted in Come, Follow Me). Jesus truly is the “light and the life of the world” (3 Ne. 11:11).

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DISCUSS and PONDER:

Think of a recent storm – literal or figurative – your family has faced. What was scary about it? How did you find peace? How has your testimony of the Savior helped you and your family through difficult times?

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3 Nephi 8–10

If I repent, the Savior will gather, protect, and heal me.

Gather. Protect. Heal. Those are powerful promises we can count on from the Savior if we repent and turn to Him. Like the Nephites, we often bring upon ourselves the negative consequences of our choices. The Savior reaches out in love and mercy, just as he did to the Nephites following such terrible destruction. If we look for Jesus, we will find Him. Sometimes in our darkest moments, the slightest glimmer of light and the softest voice of love can give us the strength we seek to go on.

The people heard a voice in the darkness that they realized was the Savior. Jesus Christ told of the destruction upon those who sought to hide their wickedness. He invited all remaining to “return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you” (3 Ne. 9:13). He extended His arm of mercy unto them and testified that He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God (3 Ne. 9: 14-15). He invited them to “offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” and be converted (3 Ne. 9:20). His plea to us is the same: repent and come unto Him and be saved (3 Ne. 9:22).

I love that after the people heard this voice in the darkness, there was silence again for many hours but this time they ceased lamenting (3 Ne. 10:2). They may have been pondering upon what they had felt and heard, possibly praying and seeking forgiveness. Later, they heard again the voice of the Savior: “how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you” (3 Ne. 10:4). Christ spoke of gathering and nourishing, of sparing them, of fulfilling the covenant He had made with their fathers (3 Ne. 10:6-7). The people still mourned the loss of their loved ones, but “the darkness is dispersed from off the face of the land,” the earth ceased to tremble, and “their mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer” (3 Ne. 9-10).

The Nephites had “great favors shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads” as Jesus “truly did manifest himself unto them” (3 Ne. 10:18). Sometimes after the darkest periods of our lives we experience the sweetest of blessings.

DISCUSS and PONDER:

Read this quote together from Pres. Russell N. Nelson, “Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances….When Jesus asks you and me to ‘repent,’ He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies. Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (We Can Do Better and Be Better, April 2020 General Conference).

How can you, as a family, help each other repent and change? What do you need to start or stop doing? How can you make repentance a “daily focus” that really changes your thoughts and behaviors?

ACTIVITY:

  • Tell this story from Elder Neil L. Andersen ( read the two paragraphs beginning with “Once I was asked…”). Discuss his quote, “Repentance always means that there is greater happiness ahead.” Why should we not fear or postpone repentance?
  • With youth, read about Repentance in For the Strength of Youth. What is something you would want a friend or sibling to know about repentance?
  • With children, watch this video about repentance. What was wrong and what needed to be fixed? What did they do to feel better? (The free FHE lesson is here).
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3 Nephi 11:1–8

I can learn to hear and understand God’s voice.

This is such a beautiful chapter in the Book of Mormon, one I have read many times in many places, especially as a missionary. I feel the Spirit each time I read it. There is something powerful about Christ’s “descending out of heaven” and showing himself to them just as it had been prophesied (3 Ne. 11: 8, 12). It is a scene I can visualize and almost imagine myself being there.

There is much we can learn in these first few verses about how to recognize God’s voice. What did the Nephites do?

  • They gathered together (3 Ne. 11:1)
  • They gathered at the temple (3 Ne. 11:1)
  • They marveled and wondered about the great and marvelous change that had taken place (3 Ne. 11:1)
  • They talked together about Jesus and the signs that had been given (3 Ne. 11:2)

It was then, as they were gathered together in a holy place, thinking and conversing about Jesus, that they heard a voice “as if it came out of heaven” (3 Ne. 11: 3). At first they didn’t recognize it but definitely felt it was a different sort of voice. “…It was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn” (3 Ne. 11:3). 

What did they do? 

  • They looked toward heaven and turned their eyes in the direction of the voice (3 Ne. 11:3,5)
  • They opened their ears to hear (3 Ne. 11:5) 
  • They looked steadfastly towards heaven (3 Ne. 11:5)

This is when they finally understood. “The third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him” (3 Ne. 11:6-7).

God the Father invited all to hear His Son. God’s voice, through his living prophet, has issued us the same challenge recently. Pres. Nelson issued a special invitation on social media in February to “Hear Him.” He said, “I invite you to think deeply and often about this key question: How do you hear Him?” Since then we have heard and read many messages around this invitation. I know for me it has been a time of personal reflection and refinement as I seek to better see and understand the Lord’s voice in my life. 

In April’s General Conference, Pres. Nelson gave us wise counsel and powerful invitations in his talk “Hear Him.” Some of my favorite quotes from that talk are:

  • “It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now.”
  • “What an anchor to our souls are these truths, especially during these times when the tempest is raging.”
  • “He communicates simply, quietly, and with such stunning plainness that we cannot misunderstand Him.”
  • “…just before the Father introduced the Son, the people involved were in a state of fear and, to some degree, desperation.”
  • “As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths.”
  • “Daily immersion in the word of God is crucial for spiritual survival, especially in these days of increasing upheaval.”

I can’t think of better invitations and challenges as I strive to better hear what the Lord has to say to me and to help my family do the same. In a loud world, a world of chaos and conflicting voices, we know who to listen for and to. 

DISCUSS and PONDER:

What have you noticed in your own life about how the Lord speaks to you? What can you do as a family to help each other better hear and recognize promptings from Heavenly Father?  

ACTIVITY:

  • Watch or re-watch Pres. Nelson’s conference address “Hear Him”. Discuss a few ways your family can heed his invitation this week.
  • Issue a family artistic challenge to illustrate, hand letter, draw, or otherwise design a visual reminder to “Hear Him” and put them all up on display
  • Watch all or some of these short videos. Write a specific invitation from each person to Hear Him and put it up somewhere you can all see
  • Share an uplifting message on social media using the hashtag #HearHim

3 Nephi 11:8–17

Jesus Christ invites me to gain a personal testimony of Him

A few years ago I was fortunate to accompany a group of eye doctors to rural Ethiopia, where they performed life-changing cataract surgery for anyone who needed it. Many villagers walked for days, carrying small provisions, to receive help. Some were children. The morning after surgery was joyous and moving as doctors removed the bandages from their eyes and they could see again. At one point I was asked to trim their eyelashes to help prepare them for surgery. The patients trusted me completely, though I could not communicate well, as I came towards their eyes yielding sharp scissors. I put my hands on their faces, huddled closely over them, and could feel their breath against my cheek as I trimmed their lashes. Service is often up close, tangible, and intimate.

I thought of this experience as I read again the Savior’s invitation to the Nephites: “Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet” (3 Ne. 11:14). We later learn that there were 2,500 people present (3 Ne. 17:25). This was no small invitation and no doubt took time and patience on everyone’s part. Yet, it was important to the Savior to have them come close to Him, to touch Him, to have a tangible experience with Him.

Ultimately, He wanted them to know for themselves that He is “the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world” (3 Ne. 11:14). The multitude did go forth and “thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come” (3 Ne. 11:15).

No doubt they felt the Spirit confirm to their souls that He was the Savior and their lives were forever changed. “When they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him” (3 Ne. 11:16). We may not have a tangible visit from Jesus, but we, too, can experience a powerful change of heart as we come to know the Savior. 

DISCUSS and PONDER:

What would it have felt like to be there when Jesus visited the Nephites? How would you have felt if you were able to feel the prints in His hands and feet individually? Why is it important that we come to know for ourselves that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world?

WATCH and DISCUSS:

Watch any or all of these video clips and share your testimonies of Jesus Christ.

For more resources for children, see Testimony.

Photo courtesy of author

CONCLUSION

We don’t know the storms that await us in our lives. Like the recent storm that appeared out of nowhere and toppled a large tree near our home, storms of life can appear suddenly and without warning. As we follow the guidance of our prophet and church leaders, and seek repentance rather than fear it, we will be prepared to face whatever comes with strength and courage. As we develop faith in Jesus Christ and come to hear Him and know Him for ourselves, we will not be left in darkness. Pres. Nelson recently said, “I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles, and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships, and daily work. And I promise that your capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life” (Hear Him, April 2020 General Conference).