Chapter 12 is sad to me. Imagine viewing the destruction of your own family, your own descendents. Nephi is forced to face some hard truths throughout the vision he describes in these chapters.
1 Nephi 14:7 says that the marvelous work and wonder of the gospel will convince us either to peace and life eternal or will deliver us to the captivity of the devil. Peace and life eternal...is that really what we're offered and what we're able to achieve through living the precepts of the gospel? It's such a clear choice, when stated like that. The choice gets so muddied by life. It can seem so unclear. But like one of the children of Israel needing to simply look at the serpent Moses raised on the staff to have their lives spared, sometimes just choosing to look seems so hard. Look to God and live. It's a simple proposition, but sometimes it's hardly simple in practice.
In chapter 15, Nephi's vision has ended and he has to return to his daily life. I empathize with him. Verse 4 & 5 say, "And now I, Nephi, was grieved because of the hardness of their hearts, and also, because of the things which I had seen, and knew they must unavoidably come to pass because of the great wickedness of the children of men. And it came to pass that I was overcome because of my afflictions, for I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall." He had heavy things in his heart, and then he has to go talk to the brothers that he knows will become his enemies, and their children will become his children's enemies. Heavy heart. Heavy responsibility. Did he hope that SOMETHING he might say might change the outcome of what he had just experienced? My heart aches for Nephi, and also for his brothers.
But by chapter 16 verse 5, Nephi says, "And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness." Hope springs eternal...