This scripture is in 1 Nephi 2:16:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
Just a little preface for those who may not be familiar with this scripture. Nephi’s father, Lehi had just had a vision that was difficult for his family to understand. In this example, Nephi turns to the Lord rather than to science, other men, etc. to learn the Lord’s mysteries. As a result, the Lord visits him and softens his heart. This experience serves as a building block for the rest of Nephi’s life as one reads through the Book of Nephi and sees how strong Nephi is in the Lord throughout his life.
As I read over this again this morning I thought about my own life. What are the “mysteries” that I’ve experienced and what are some that I’ve seen others struggle with? Examples include: is there a God? Which church is true? Is the Book of Mormon true? The Bible? Why am I sick? What job should I take? Who should I marry? What school should I go to? Why do we have temples and what is the meaning of what we do in temples? How can I experience God’s love? How can I love my enemy? How can I trust in something I can’t see (Jesus, God, etc.)? Why did I lose my job? Why don’t I feel happy?
I could go on, but the point is that “mysteries” to me are basically anything we don’t understand (which is about 99% of life!). Since there are so many things in life that are incomprehensible, that makes it even more important to turn to the Lord.
In the very next verse (1 Nephi 2:17) Nephi describes how we can know the mysteries of God, which is through the power of the Holy Ghost. Other scriptures state that the Holy Ghost will “teach us all things,” and by the power of the Holy Ghost we’ll “know the truth of all things.”
Receiving an answer and recognizing the answer from the Lord through the Holy Ghost may not come all at once. It didn’t for Nephi, but eventually the Lord visited him and said in 1 Nephi 2:19:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
Notice that the Lord didn’t simply give Nephi an answer, but it was because Nephi was:
1. Humble (i.e. didn’t rely on the philosophies of men and science but relied on the Lord)
2. Never gave up (he didn’t just ask once and call it good and then blame the Lord for not answering. He diligently sought)
3. He had faith (he believed the Lord would answer him)
I encourage all of us to follow Nephi’s pattern when we have a question or do not understand something whether it be gospel or spiritually related or something else in our lives such as our children, job, friends, spouse, or anything else.
One thing I’d like to add in conclusion. Although we can apply this formula to virtually any question we have in our lives, these scriptures are specifically referring to the “mysteries of God.” People ask questions such as “Was Joseph Smith really a Prophet?” “Is the Book of Mormon a true Book?” “Did Jesus really exist and atone for the sins of the world?” “Is there a God?” “How do I recognize answers to prayer?” “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”
Whatever questions we are asking ourselves, I hope we can apply these principles in our lives and turn to the Lord rather than man or science. I don’t know much about God’s mysteries and many of life’s mysteries, but the little I do know has been revealed to me through the Holy Spirit when I follow this pattern to know the mysteries of God.