“Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever” (Doctrine & Covenants 122:9).
I have been pondering the current events with a much different perspective than many of my friends. I shared with one friend recently that I no longer wanted her to send me any of the Facebook posts or Messenger files that were focusing on the COVID virus, civil unrest, racial issues, or political arguments. Her short response was: “Okay. So, you no longer want to hear what is truly happening then?” Following is the lengthy response I provided her:
“I’m content that Heavenly Father is in charge. What is happening is going along with prophecy about the end times. At the very best, there is nothing that my knowing the details about that will change the outcome…. and, at the worst, I can fall prey to it by buying into the fear and confusion. I am admonished in my patriarchal blessing to ‘go forward without fear.’ I have clung to that counsel (which I believe is a commandment) my entire life and I’m not going to abandon it now.”
I completely believe what the Lord told Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail (which I quoted at the beginning of this post but will include again here):
“Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.” D&C 122:9
On September 7, 2008, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke about this in his BYU devotional talk “Lessons from Liberty Jail” when he said:
“Every one of us, in one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. . . . You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced….We will face things we do not want to face for reasons that may not have been our fault. Indeed, we may face difficult circumstances for reasons that were absolutely right and proper, reasons that came because we were trying to keep the commandments of the Lord. We may face persecution; we may endure heartache and separation from loved ones; we may be hungry and cold and forlorn. Yes, before our lives are over, we may all be given a little taste of what the prophets faced often in their lives. But the lessons of the winter of 1838–39 teach us that every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through that difficulty. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace.”
As I read those words, I reflected on how that counsel applies just as much to us today as it did in the early days of the church. The adversary wants to distract us from preparing the world for Christ’s Second Coming. We need to keep our eye on the ball and not be overly concerned (or distraught) about things over which we have no control.
The scriptures are full of events about what happens when the people are fully ripened in iniquity. Over and over we read about how the Lord leads His people into the wilderness and allows the wicked to destroy each other.
Spiritual and emotional resilience are the skills we need to be focusing on now, not wearing ourselves out by attempting to hold back the tsunami of evil, deception, and fear that the Lord is allowing to continue for a season. This is Satan’s last hurrah. He’s fighting for his existence and he’s going to take as many with him as he can recruit. I’m not going to be one of them. There is still much to do to “bear off the kingdom.” I don’t require the blow-by-blow evidence of the breakdown of our society. Dale and I are prepared to stand firm and immoveable to our final mortal breath, and (since we are 70 and 75) we are content to commit our destiny into the sacred hands of the “author and finisher of our faith.”
I spoke in my last blog post about being “tight like unto a dish” in the storms of life. I heard something recently that hit me like a tsunami. You know how sometimes we hear people say “we’re all in the same boat?” We aren’t all in the same “boat” – we’re all in the same storm. Some have a rowboat, some a submarine, some a yacht, some an inner tube. Some are more likely to survive the storm than others.
One of the things I learned from going through the Church’s self-reliance classes is that Heavenly Father blesses effort. Well, guess what…The Church has recently added (July 2020) another course of study to the self-reliance Initiative Program that is entitled “Emotional Resilience.” It states: “This group is for educational purposes only. It is not group therapy or professional treatment for mental health issues. If you believe you are experiencing chronic issues with depression, stress and anxiety, anger, addiction, or other mental health issues you should seek professional help.”
This course focuses on teaching those specific skills. It takes time to learn and practice those skills so we aren’t reduced to a quivering puddle of fear by the conditions of our world as it teeters on the edge of collapse of life as we currently know it. We are to stand in our power knowing there are legions of angels ready to fortify our efforts after all we can do.
“…You remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble,” BYU Speech, March 1980).
So, to me, the question is “How much of a supply of emotional (and spiritual) resilience is in your personal storehouse?” A year? A month? A week? An hour? 10 seconds? Truth be told, we don’t know how much time we have left to reinforce that supply. Fortunately, we still have time to gain and strengthen the skills required to strengthen our resilience and qualify for the help of the Lord after all we can do. The current events in our country, our world, is a blessing and a curse, depending on the level of your resilience. I consider it to be Zion’s Camp 2020. An opportunity to test our capacity to “let not [our] heart[s] be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I truly believe when chaos reigns (the likes of which we are only beginning to witness) people will follow the leadership of anyone that has a plan. And when people are ripened in fear, they have no critical thinking skills available to them and won’t be able to discern whether a plan is designed to lead them to the Savior… or designed to lead them to destruction.
As for me and my house, we will spend our emotion and spiritual currency learning, practicing, and implementing all we can to strengthen our resilience. We’ve been hearing for years that “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”
I feel to share my testimony in closing.
My life is my testimony.
I used to believe the Atonement was applied at the judgment seat before my Heavenly Father when Jesus would speak for me and mercy would cleanse me of all my sins.
At the age of 75 I more fully understand that the Atonement has been the source of every tender mercy that has transformed me bit by bit over the years. It has taught me line upon line. It has brought me mercy when I deserved justice.
The Atonement has informed my lifelong desire to learn and to serve. It has given me the courage to be authentic and allow the Lord to guide me in His path leading to an understanding of how I can be a useful instrument in His hands and become all I was created to be. It has been like a silver thread leading me to my eternal home. I see it working in the lives of my family, in the lives of those I am privileged to serve. I tremble to even contemplate what mortality would be like for anyone without the Atonement. Our Heavenly Father knew we would need all the help we could get to overcome the natural man after all we can do.
I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sonja lives with her husband, Dale, on Anderson Island, Washington. She and her husband are Church Service Missionaries serving in the Addiction Recovery Program, focusing on pornography and sex addiction. She is also a certified life coach and teaches "Life Skills for Emotional Self-Mastery" in her stake twice a month. She does not teach you only to process something traumatic done to you in the past; rather, she helps you learn to feel it, heal it, and LET GO of whatever you still do to yourself and to others in order to cope with what was done to you in the past.