Refugees are all over the news—and with good reason. Their harrowing stories of leaving their home, fearing for their lives, losing family members along the way, is truly heart-wrenching. We read a similar tale of people fleeing their home in the Book of Mormon, and it completely changes how I look at our modern refugee.
One would think that it was the living in the wilderness—the running out of food and crossing of seas and settling in new lands—that would bring “much afflictions and sorrow” Lehi’s son Jacob experienced, as written in 2 Nephi 2:1.
But no; rather, Jacob suffered “because of the rudeness of thy brethren.” In other words, it was the people that brought Jacob down—and I argue that it’s the people, more than circumstance, that can bring us sorrow in our life.
But there’s a flipside to it, too. In verse 3 of that same chapter, Lehi tells his son, “thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi.” Jacob would not only find anguish in the rudeness of his brothers, but solace in Nephi.
I think we underestimate people’s ability to bring refuge to others. We as individuals provide more solace and safety than a particular place or destination. While we are all Jacob—we have encountered both rudeness and solace in our interactions with others—we also at times are the Laman & Lemuals and Nephis. We have the power to cause affliction and sorrow, but like Nephi, we can provide a safety and security for people even in the darkest of times.
We are all in our personal wilderness, some more treacherous than others. But in this wilderness we call life we can offer great refuge to each other, perhaps more than we know.