Entering the wilderness is not usually easy, even for the righteous who know of and believe in the promised blessings. Even Sariah complained for a time to Lehi: “Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 5:2). Such grumblings and murmurings are common among those who do not recognize the Lord’s hand in their lives. It is difficult to keep an eternal perspective when you are suffering. Sariah had forgotten (or never really yet believed) that it was not Lehi who told them to leave Jerusalem, it was the Lord. Lehi merely acted as spokesperson. She quickly repented of her murmurings though. When Nephi’s bow broke, his family started to murmur against the Lord because of their afflictions and because of the sufferings they had experienced in the wilderness (see 1 Ne. 16:20). However, Nephi went before the Lord, prayed, and made a new bow. He had faith through his afflictions and trusted in the Lord.
Some in Lehi’s and Ishmael’s families murmured when Ishmael died: “Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger” (1 Ne. 16:35). They forgot all the times the Lord had blessed them with food, just like the Israelites were blessed with manna, quail, and fresh water by the Lord in their need. We too are often quick to forget the blessings of the Lord when we wander in strange lands, in deserts of despair or forests of darkness.
What is a strange land? A strange land at the most basic level is somewhere that is not your home. A strange land can also mean somewhere new, not the land in which you or your ancestors grew up. Even though you may be in a promised land, rich in resources, you can still be in a strange land. A strange land could also mean a land of wickedness or a land of non-covenant people.