We’ve all heard about COVID-19 (more popularly known as “coronavirus”) and the pandemic that it has caused. Some aren’t worried at all, some put on a brave face and hide their fear, and others are sorely afraid for what the future holds. For some, this trial that everyone is facing is more worrisome than it is for others.
For me personally, I worry a little. I worry about my husband’s health and my health, and about who’d be there for my children if something happened to us. Like any other parent, I also worry about my children and their wellbeing. And while I’m not too concerned about our health overall because we are healthy, I do worry about my mother’s health, as she has underlying health conditions that place her in the high-risk category. About two and a half years ago, my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. And although her cancer is not active at this time, the coronavirus has the potential to take her life.
Amid the worries and concerns, we’ve all also experienced the chaos and confusion. The week when many were stockpiling their pantry, we were preparing for and attending the funeral services for my husband’s sister, a death unrelated to the coronavirus. As a result, our family didn’t get the opportunity to go shopping, as our income was needed elsewhere. After seeing Facebook posts and news reports, it was terrifying to see how little is left and to know that I still haven’t been shopping — not even for the basics, much less for extras like Easter candy.
While I know what it’s like to be concerned about the virus, I also know that we’ve been taking precautions to help keep us safe and protected. While we attended a funeral out of state and had to stay at a hotel, we limited our exposure and costs by cooking crockpot meals in our room instead of going out to eat. Upon preparing for our trip, I realized that if we follow the advice that the healthcare professionals have given us and do what we can to reduce our risk, we’ll be protected. It doesn’t mean that we won’t get the virus, but it does help us reduce our chances of getting it and to know what to expect if we do get the virus. While the advice from the medical professionals is great, we’ve also been warned about not being prepared from the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We have been taught over and over again to have food storage on hand. Without our food storage, I currently don’t know how my little family would survive. It’s because of what we have on hand that our family has meals to eat, because I haven’t had a minute to go grocery shopping. And while it may not be much and we may not have the extras like candy for Easter or ice cream for Sunday afternoons, we have what we need — and for that I am grateful.
In Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” he addresses how we should live within our means and how it is essential that we plan for the future. Elder Perry likens modern-day trials to having oil in our lamps that is sufficient enough to endure to the end. It’s important that we prepare our lamps not only for our spiritual needs, but also for our temporal needs. Elder Perry shared a quote by former President Spencer W. Kimball:
“To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.
President Spencer W. Kimball admonished us:
‘In reviewing the Lord’s counsel to us on the importance of preparedness, I am impressed with the plainness of the message. The Savior made it clear that we cannot place sufficient oil in our preparedness lamps by simply avoiding evil. We must also be anxiously engaged in a positive program of preparation.’
He also said: ‘The Lord will not translate one’s good hopes and desires and intentions into works. Each of us must do that for himself.’”
The need for being prepared in our time of need and trial has never been more clear than it is today. We’ve witnessed many running to grocery stores in a panic trying to buy up the last of the food, toilet paper, and water in hopes of stockpiling their year’s supply in an instant. But it doesn’t work that way. Had we all been prepared to begin with, this panic and chaos would have been unnecessary and we’d have absolutely no reason to fear. We’d only need to maintain the essentials, which should be done anyway. Elder Perry went on to advise us to be prepared in the four following areas of our daily lives:
- First, gain an adequate education. We need to learn a trade or profession that will secure an income for our future. We also need to stay up to date on the rapidly changing information and technology around us.
- Second, we need to live strictly within our income and save for a rainy day. We are advised to grow our own gardens and prepare foods at home that can be added to our food storage.
- Third, we have been advised to put money away for a rainy day and live within our means, avoiding unnecessary debt.
- Fourth, we need to acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life for at least a year.
Imagine how much less chaotic this past week would have been if all of us had been prepared and had the items that we needed on hand and only had to return to the store to buy the essentials like milk, eggs, bread, and fresh produce. The shelves would have remained stocked and there would have been less panic and even less of a reason to fear. Elder Perry said:
“As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.”
While I try to follow this advice, my husband and I are far from perfect. We have food storage, but far from a year’s supply. I think for most of us, we’ve been spoiled with plentiful times, not needing to stock up for the future. And although I’m not too worried about what our family will eat or what will happen if my husband has to work from home, there is still some concern and even some fear. Elder Perry’s words of counsel are also found in Doctrine & Covenants 38:30, which reads:
“I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”
I testify that if we follow this sound counsel, we will be prepared and have no reason to fear. While we attended a funeral out of state and watched the news unfold of empty store shelves and the panic among those around us who selfishly stockpiled their shopping carts, I was comforted to know that when my family returned home, we’d have food to eat. I took comfort in knowing that for the most part, we will be taken care of for the next few weeks until shelves are restocked and panic dissolves. While there is no guarantee that we won’t end up with COVID-19, we are promised that if we do our part, we’ll have no reason to fear. Instead, we will find comfort in knowing that if we are unable to work, our family will have food to eat and shelter overhead — even if we do end up infected with this virus.
My hope and my prayer is that all of us will use the COVID-19 pandemic as a warning of things to come. We have been warned and forewarned in the scriptures about perilous times. When this trial is over, it isn’t the end. There will be more to come, and that day will be far worse. I hope and pray that we learn from this current tribulation and have sufficient oil in our lamps for what could come in the future. God has promised us that if we are prepared, we will have no reason to fear. May we go forward, follow God’s counsel, and not fear.
Marie Yvonne is a motivational and devotional speaker for teens and young adults. In her devotionals, she shares her personal testimony and journey of learning to accept herself as God created her. Her journey can also be found on social media and her personal blog and website, TheConfidenceToShine.com.