The Book of Mormon is filled with stories of God’s power overcoming all odds.
Like righteous armies being smaller than wicked ones, but winning anyway. Why? Because God was on their side, and because they remembered that His power was the reason for their success.
This week I had a book discussion about the book 1776 by David McCullough. We marveled that the American army had any successful battles, let alone won the whole Revolutionary War. Especially after so many losses. It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make sense. They had less men, supplies, food, weapons and ammunition. They had less training, discipline, tents, clothing and ships. And the British had the most powerful army in the world.
But as one young man shared after reading that book, “God is more powerful than the most powerful army on the earth.”
It reminded me of other stories where this has happened, where God has helped someone succeed, against all odds.
- Nephi got the brass plates against all odds. After two failures and two death threats, Nephi wouldn’t give up and go back without those plates. God opened up the way and created a string of miracles to help Nephi get them.
- The people of King Limhi and Ammon escaped bondage against all odds. They were enslaved by the Lamanites and tried to escape three times on their own, and then Gideon was inspired to get the guards drunk. They all escaped while the drunk guards slept.
- The people of Alma were in bondage around that same time. They also prayed for God’s power to deliver them, and God worked a miracle of making the Lamanites sleep in so the Nephites could escape.
- When Elisha’s servant panicked from seeing the massive army of Syrians ready to attack the Israelites, the Lord parted the veil so the servant could see what the real odds were. That’s why Elisha could exclaim with confidence, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
- Samuel the Lamanite had some kind of force field around him so that not one arrow hit him. It’s fun to imagine a band of angels surrounding him, repelling all those arrows as he stood on the wall to deliver God’s message.
- George Washington was clearly protected too. One battle in the French Indian War made it clear – that man was bulletproof. He came away with four bullet holes in his clothing and had two horses shot out from him, but he never got hit once, against all odds.
- Sarah and Mary both had miracle babies.
- The Americans in the Revolutionary War. Against all odds – and I’m talking unbelievable odds – God helped this ragtag, untrained, starving army beat the most powerful army in the world. Because God was on their side.
This is true for you and me, too.
When we are on God’s side, doing our best to do His will, and remember that He is the source of our power and success, we are surrounded with His help and power. We have His angels on our side to minister, protect and help. We have the Holy Ghost as our guide, protector and comforter. We have the Savior’s Atonement to empower and enable us to do things we never could on our own (See David A. Bednar, "In the Strength of the Lord," BYU Devotional, Oct. 23, 2001).
With God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and God’s angels on our side, we make up an awesome army.
Remember, Our job is to make sure we are always on God’s side, doing His will, and always remembering the source of our power and successes.
God loves to show us His power. It’s not because He’s arrogant. It’s because it’s vital for us to remember it.
Here’s what we read this morning in family devotional. “Because of their...boastings in their own strength, they were left to their own strength; therefore they did not prosper...” (Helaman 4:13). As long as we remember that our power and successes come from God, we’ll turn to Him again and receive His help again. That’s why He likes to show that He is the reason we succeed, because it’s key to having success again. It’s also key in staying close to Him.
Remember. It’s a major theme in the Book of Mormon.
It’s the theme Nephi used repeatedly in his pep talks to his doubting, murmuring, resisting brothers Laman and Lemuel. He told them to remember where their power and success had come from before. To remember that God had delivered their ancestors out of bondage and worked miracles for them, like Moses parting the Red Sea and smiting a rock and water poured out. To remember how God delivered their own family from Jerusalem before it was destroyed.
Laman and Lemuel were too hard hearted to let these remembering pep talks change their hearts. But I think they helped fuel Nephi’s faith, and he did remember.
We can use this pattern to fuel our own faith when faced with challenging odds. We can make a list of people from the scriptures whom God has helped overcome hard odds, and make the impossible become possible. Then we can make a list of times He has done that in our own lives and in the lives of our family and friends.
I’ve made these lists before.
Like a couple years ago when God asked me to start homeschooling our children. I was terrified. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know how to do it, and frankly wasn’t sure I could do it. But then I remembered Nephi’s courage to “go and do what the Lord commands,” knowing God would open up a way to obey it (see 1 Nephi 3:7). I remembered how Nephi moved forward, even though he didn’t know exactly how he was going to get those plates (See 1 Nephi 4:6-7). Nephi went forward with faith, remembering that God had intervened many times before, and He would surely do it again.
I reviewed these lists recently when our family felt inspired to finally conquer a weakness we’ve struggled with for a long time ... bedtime. I reminded myself that although we’ve had multiple failures before, if God can help Nephi get the brass plates, then this is easy in comparison, right? Well, maybe not. But surely if God can work a string of miracles to help Nephi get those plates, against all odds, He can help our family conquer bedtime.
And guess what? Several nights this past week we’ve had the beautiful music of silence, and the beautiful site of a dark home, by 9:00 PM. Which means everyone was in bed or in their bedrooms on time. Yes indeed, folks, God is a God of miracles.
There is no question to me where this success came from... and it’s not me.
Thank you Nephi for helping me remember. Thank you George Washington. Thank you Captain Moroni, and Mary, and Elisha.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for being so worthy of remembering.