Jacob, the younger brother of Nephi, was born in the wilderness, just prior to Lehi's family embarking to the Western Hemisphere by sea.
Jacob never knew of the comforts of Jerusalem from whence his family came. In addition, Jacob would never experience the opulence that the Nephite civilization in the America's would eventually establish many generations after him.
Instead, Jacob was foreordained to come into this world and live during a period between these two civilizations essentially as a hunter-gatherer. When we think of our own lives, we expect to prosper, grow and be happy. We expect certain things. Jacob was born into a situation wherein he wouldn't have any of that. It's easy to overlook the life of Jacob and move on to other parts of the Book of Mormon. In doing so we miss a message that Jacob's life contains.
We can ask the question: Where is the justice of God in Jacob's life? Is it just that Jacob's life be worn out to serve only as a link between two civilizations? That Jacob would never experience the blessings of being a part of the comforts and blessings that come from established order. This is made clear as he sums up his life in one verse.
"And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days." (Jacob 7:26)
The only real answer and comfort for Jacob comes from his father Lehi.
"And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. Nevertheless, Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." (2 Nephi 2:1-2)
From Lehi, we get a powerful phrase that is unique to the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is: "consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."
When we think of consecrate, to set apart, sanction, make holy. Make holy our affliction. There's always been a truth that pain can act as a purifying or refining fire that burns out dross or corruption from our soul when the atonement of Christ is applied and brought into that experience. Then for that to become ones gain. Which perhaps implies, providing added strength, experience, being able to better empathize with others, being able to endure greater hardships. These are some of the concepts that come from that phrase.
It's easy to read through and move on from those two little verses in the Book of Mormon to other parts of the book. Those two little verses have to do with Jacob's life, his second estate existence in this world. He was literally caught in the middle of Lehi's tribulation, which then quickly became his very own, whether he liked it or not. He was foreordained to live his life in this world as essentially like what anthropologist would describe as a caveman - a hunter, gatherer. Of course Jacob was highly intelligent. No one is implying that Jacob was a Neanderthal. As we can see, Jacob's life and experience should catch our attention.
We should liken the scriptures to ourselves. Jacob's life can be used to make parallel connections between our very own lives and his. Jacob was a real person and deserves our respect and honor. Hats off to Jacob and all that he did to serve Christ and fulfill his mission in this world.