Mercy is such an important principle that it is one of the main messages of the Book of Mormon. At the end of the first chapter of the first book in the Book of Mormon Nephi writes, “Behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne. 1:20). Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Lehi had had a vision and started preaching the impending destruction of Jerusalem. It was not a popular message. However, the Lord was mindful of Lehi and his family. Lehi had a special calling to leave Jerusalem and work his way to a promised land. That is the Lord’s mercy; He delivered Lehi’s family from destruction. Their path was not easy but the Lord was merciful. Nephi explained how to obtain mercy – simply have faith in the Lord. The Lord has merciful feelings for all people. However, He can only be as merciful as people allow Him to be: “Thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him” (Mosiah 29:20). He cannot fully bless us with His mercy if we do not have faith in Him and if we do not pull all our trust in Him. To receive a fullness of mercy we must repent of our sins.
We can continue to trace the Lord’s mercy throughout the Book of Mormon as people are freed from bondage – physical and spiritual. Even though much of the tone of the Book of Mormon is negative – it is after all, a chronicle of a civilization that destroys itself – there is always the underlying message of hope and mercy that things will work out in the end. There is repentance and forgiveness. There is mercy to be found. There is a Balm in Gilead. The Lord will “bind up the brokenhearted [and] proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…. [He will] comfort all that mourn; [and] appoint unto them that mourn in Zion [and] give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, the he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3). In these tender verses we learn of Christ’s role as healer. He pours forth mercy unto those in need and comforts those who mourn: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). This is a promise given to those who return to live with God again.