However, I have seen God's hand so often in the small details of my life, I know God will never abandon us during our biggest trials. And so I wondered how often our blessings might come incognito. They are there, we just aren't seeing them.
In thinking about this, the two following stories came to my mind:
When Lehi and his family (from the Book of Mormon) were told to leave Jerusalem in search of a promised land or be destroyed, they all left behind their riches and their comforts of home and headed off into the desert--where they lived for eight years.
Truthfully, camping one night for me is torture. Living for eight years wandering in the desert, sleeping in tents, being deprived of hot running water and eating raw meat (1 Ne 17:2) would be a HUGE trial! I totally get why Laman and Lemuel murmured!
Yet Nephi writes, "So great were the blessings of the Lord upon us . . . " In the midst of his affliction, he found the blessings. They may have been hidden (after all his brothers never found them) but they were there. They were strengthened, fed and guided by the Lord all through their journey. Their trials were numerous, as Lehi often referred to this time as the "wilderness of my affliction" but still, the Lord was there.
Never at any time were they abandoned, although there were times when some of them abandoned God.
Another story I have always gotten a chuckle from is the story of Elijah. He calls down a famine upon the people and then is told by the Lord to hide himself by a brook where he could obtain water and the Lord would provide the rest of his food.
So, then how did the prophet of the Lord eat? Did he eat off the "fat of the land" or in the style to which he was accustomed? No, he ate bread and meat delivered by the ravens morning and night. So I looked up what ravens would be most likely to bring and this is what I found.
"Most ravens eat the dead bodies of other animals. Ravens generally eat some fruit, berries and grains when they are available. They will eat any small animals, small birds and small reptiles that they can find. Ravens even eat maggots and animal poo. Ravens eat anything that is easy to catch!"
I am not sure if this is the type of food Elijah received or if the birds brought him something a bit more palatable, but the idea of living alone in the desert, eating road kill, once again does not sound like a blessing to me.
Yet, just like Nephi, Elijah was guided, nourished and protected until the Lord saw fit to send him elsewhere.
I wonder if perhaps we have the wrong idea about life. I know there are times when I think living the commandments entitles me immediately to the blessings I desire--a roof over my head, food to eat, health, and a happy family life. Yet, that is so often not the case for many righteous people. And when our worlds seem to fall apart, our health or families fail us, we cry out wondering why this has happened to us, and why God does not bless us with those things we deserve.
Raw meat and raven deliveries might not at first seem like great blessings for Nephi and Elijah as well, but they both were. Elijah would have starved with out the food the ravens brought and Nephi and his family were probably being protected by unsavory travelers who might have seen the smoke from the fire they used to cook their meat.
And so I have come to believe that during our darkest days, God will always nourish, strengthen and guide. We may just have to look a little harder to notice it.
And that thought brings great . . . joy to my journey.