In our Sunday School lesson today, we focused on verse 27, of 2 Nephi chapter 5, "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." As I pondered this scripture, it became clear to me that the reason Nephi and his people were able to live after the manner of happiness was because they were obedient to promptings of the Spirit and hearkened unto the counsel of the prophets.
In this particular verse, the Nephites had just fled from their brethren, the Lamanites. The Lord warned Nephi, the prophet, that he needed to take his family and all who would listen and flee to the wilderness, where they would find safety from those who desired to cause them harm. Just 30 years earlier, the same thing happened. The Lord warned Lehi to take his family and go into the wilderness to escape to safety. When we read in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, we understand that those who were left in Jerusalem after Lehi and his family had escaped, were either destroyed or taken captive into Babylon.
So, what do these stories teach us? 1. That the Lord always prepares places of safety for those who follow Him. And, 2. Obedience to the counsel of the prophets and promptings of the Spirit are the surest way to find happiness. If Nephi and his family had failed to follow that counsel, would they still have avoided destruction?
I'm not saying that it's all going to be rainbows and butterflies just because we keep the commandments, but I know that obedience to the principles of the gospel is the only way to find lasting happiness.
In December 2002, Elder Marlin K. Jensen wrote an Ensign article entitled, "Living after the Manner of Happiness." He said:
"From the depths of my soul I testify that we cannot break God’s laws, we can only break ourselves against them. Satan wants us to believe we are an exception to God’s rules, that somehow our transgressions are more noble, or more justifiable, than anyone’s have ever been, but that is a lie. And not only do we offend God by breaking His laws, we also offend ourselves and others and thereby experience heartache, suffering, and misery—the exact opposites of happiness...
"One of the keys to a truly happy life is to learn, as early as possible, that wickedness is never happiness and to never forget this truth, preferably learning from others’ mistakes rather than making our own."
I'm grateful for the lessons we can learn from the scriptures. I love this lesson for the hope that it gives. We may experience struggle and pain in our life, but if we are obedient to the commandments and follow the prophet, we will find safety, security and lasting happiness.