Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a real change in what people are posting on social media. There is a thoughtfulness that I’ve never seen before. Thought provoking questions and scenarios seem to be woven into everything I read. We all seem to have realized at the same time that there are serious things happening around us over which we have little or no control. We are seeing prophesy fulfilled.
This scripture from The Book of Mormon comes to mind:
30 O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and infidelity shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul.
31 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people.
While it is true that we should be concerned and involved, there is no cause for alarm. We must remember who is in control. There is nothing happening in the world that has not been foretold. While prophesy is becoming reality, there is much to appreciate and enjoy. We are told to be joyful—and that is a good thing.
Preparation is in order. We’ve been told all our lives to prepare. In the early days of my life, the preparation that was stressed was physical, such as food storage and debt reduction. While those things are still critical, it seems to be the spiritual preparation that is more on the minds of our leaders at present. They want us to be prepared for hard things that are to come. We are to be ready to stand and defend the kingdom of God. We must prepare ourselves spiritually to defend religious freedom, as well as stand up for family values. There will be persecution in our future, but we can and will stand strong.
There has never been a time when we have been told to drag our feet with sadness and depression. On the contrary, we have always been told to trust the Lord and have joy in our hearts. Please take comfort from the words below from those with much more knowledge than I possess. I hope my readers will tuck this away as a resource to come back to when feeling overwhelmed with the confusion that abounds.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25).
[T]rust in the saving power of Jesus Christ; keep His laws and commandments. In other words—live the gospel joyful (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Living the Gospel Joyful,” Oct. 2014 General Conference).
I know by personal experience that the joy of living in righteousness and abiding in Christ can continue despite the tribulations characteristic of mortality. Ultimately, these tribulations often enrich, refine, and guide us to a deeper understanding of the purpose of our existence here in mortality and of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. . . . I believe that as we deepen our understanding of the Savior, we will have an increased desire to live joyfully and a conviction that joy is possible. Consequently, we will have a greater ability to go about each day with more enthusiasm for life and for keeping the commandments of God, even in challenging circumstances (Elder José A. Teixeira, “Seeking the Lord,” Apr. 2015 General Conference).
Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows. . . . Brothers and sisters, my sincere prayer is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is most important, that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey (President Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Oct. 2008 General Conference).
Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy. Pondering their doctrine will let you enjoy the beauties of this earth and enrich your relationships with others. It will lead you to the comforting, strengthening experiences that flow from prayer to Father in Heaven and the answers He gives in return.
A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle. Cast on the ground, it is seen in perspective. Likewise, problems or trials in our lives need to be viewed in the perspective of scriptural doctrine. Otherwise they can easily overtake our vision, absorb our energy, and deprive us of the joy and beauty the Lord intends us to receive here on earth. Some people are like rocks thrown into a sea of problems. They are drowned by them. Be a cork. When submerged in a problem, fight to be free to bob up to serve again with happiness.
Learn from inspiring individuals who have made peace with their challenges and live with joy amid adversity. . . . Children teach us how to find joy even under the most challenging circumstances. Children haven’t yet learned to be depressed by concentrating on the things they don’t have. They find joy in what is available to them (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Finding Joy in Life,” Apr. 1996 General Conference).
Our closeness to the Lord will, in great measure, determine the peace and comfort and renewed strength that we feel as we invite the Spirit into our lives. . . . Personal peace and our level of spirituality will increase as we focus on studying and thinking about Christ every day; by loving and thanking Christ more each day for His atoning sacrifice; by daily striving to serve Christ better. . . . In spite of all the problems in the world today, peace can come to the hearts of each of us as we follow the Savior. Christ is the way to peace, the truth of peace, the life of peace, the source of peace. Look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, live as Christ would have us live, and worship Him and our Heavenly Father with all your heart, might, mind, and strength (Elder Robert E. Wells, “Peace,” Apr. 1991 General Conference).
The value of peace within our hearts cannot be measured. When we are at peace, we can be free of worry and fear, knowing that with the Lord’s help, we can do all that is expected or required of us. We can approach every day, every task, and every challenge with assurance and confidence in the outcome. We have freedom of thought and action, freedom to be happy.
Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality. We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us. Attaining harmony within ourselves depends upon our relationship with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and our willingness to emulate Him by living the principles He has given us (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Peace Within,” Apr. 1991 General Conference).
Men and women are shaped partly by those among whom they choose to live. Those to whom they look up and try to emulate also shape them. Jesus is the great Exemplar. The only way to find lasting peace is to look to Him and live. . . . It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that provides this foundation upon which we can find lasting peace and build eternal family units (Elder L. Tom Perry, “Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families,” Oct. 2014 General Conference).
My final plea tonight is that you have the courage to stand firm for truth and righteousness. Because the trend in society today is away from the values and principles the Lord has given us, you will almost certainly be called upon to defend that which you believe. Unless the roots of your testimony are firmly planted, it will be difficult for you to withstand the ridicule of those who challenge your faith. When firmly planted, your testimony of the gospel, of the Savior, and of our Heavenly Father will influence all that you do throughout your life. The adversary would like nothing better than for you to allow derisive comments and criticism of the Church to cause you to question and doubt. Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe (President Thomas S. Monson “May You Have Courage,” Apr. 2009 General Conference).
[C]ourage also includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid, defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status. He who stands steadfastly for that which is right must risk becoming at times disapproved and unpopular (President Thomas S. Monson, “Be Strong and of a Good Courage,” Apr. 2014 General Conference).
Of course we will face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but as the determination to live decently. A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well. . . . May we muster courage at the crossroads, courage for the conflicts, courage to say no, courage to say yes, for courage counts (President Thomas S. Monson, “Courage Counts,” Oct. 1986 General Conference).
When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage (Elder Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Oct. 2008 General Conference).
Some Parting Thoughts
I love Elder Scott’s admonition to be a cork in our sea of troubles. Do you have the visual? The cork just bobs up and down, floating on top of the swirling white water, but never becoming completely submerged in the undercurrent. It gets wet, but it resists the pressure of the water. Be the cork.
Yes, there will be tough times ahead—but we already knew that. We knew that when we accepted the challenge in the preexistence. Heavenly Father had confidence that we could do this, or He would not have sent us here during this time period. We have a work to do. Be at peace, and be joyful. God knows the end as well as the beginning. Have faith and be happy. Be knit together as one. Depend upon each other as a true Zion community. Look to the atonement of Christ for peace. Keep covenants. Make Sacrament Meeting a spiritual experience. Go to the temple often. Be joyful! We can do this!