Lessons Learned from a Broken Bow

When Nephi breaks his bow in the Book of Mormon, he teaches us by example how to deal with adversity.

Girl walking barefoot on rocks

Photo by Jordan Whitt

The first part of the Book of Mormon follows the journey of Lehi and his family out of Jerusalem, through the wilderness, and across the ocean to the promised land. Nephi, one of Lehi’s sons, breaks his steel bow while in the wilderness, leaving the family without a way to feed themselves.

While we don’t usually depend on a bow and arrow for our survival today, we all face adversity and obstacles. In her BYU devotional address titled “When Your Bow Breaks,” Jennifer Paustenbaugh shares six principles from this Book of Mormon story that can help us in our own trials. The following two (of her six) principles are actions that can help us rely on God and realize we have the power to make the best of the situations we face, even when the circumstances seem hopeless.


Throughout the story of Lehi and his family, Nephi prays often and earnestly to God. When hardship strikes, his prayer is not “Bless me to find a bow,” but rather, “What can I do to make a bow to hunt the game my family needs to survive?” This humble prayer gives Nephi the answers he needs.


Praying alone is not enough; we must act on the inspiration we receive through our prayers. Nephi kept his family from starving in the wilderness by acting on the instructions God gave him.

Sister Paustenbaugh also points out the principles of turning to priesthood leaders, reading scriptures, feeling gratitude in any circumstance, and expecting miracles as ways that will help us face our trials. What may at first have seemed impossible will become possible with God’s help.

Read or listen to Jennifer Paustenbaugh’s talk, “When Your Bow Breaks,” to learn more about the four additional principles that can help us overcome adversity.

Source: BYU Speeches
—Tiana Ahuna, Mormon Insights

feature image by flickr user midnightcomm / bow / cc by 2.0 / photo altered

Find more insights

Sister Paustenbaugh quotes from Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk, “Trust in the Lord.” Watch or read his talk.

Read a contest-winning Mormon Insights article titled “Trusting the Lord through Anxiety and Depression” and learn how one young woman finds purpose in her trials.

Even President Thomas S. Monson struggles with adversity. Read his powerful talk “‘I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee.'” Watch the video “Come What May, and Love It” to discover ways to overcome adversity and find joy, even through hard experiences.

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One Comment

  1. I have never heard of this speech before. I’m so excited to see how I can use all six principles from Nephi’s bow story in my life. I have always admired Nephi’s courage to persevere in hard times. I’m grateful for this article that led to the speech from Jennifer Paustenbaugh.

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