As I read the account of Christ’s coming to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon this time, I marvel at the parallels to our day, and my love for the Book of Mormon deepens. Perhaps like never before, 3 Nephi 8 seems to be all too familiar. If I wasn’t reading the words from The Book of Mormon, I would suppose I was reading the daily headlines in 2020.
I think we can all understand much better what the Nephites must have been feeling when they “began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite” (3 Nephi 8:3).
They knew that Christ had come to the world and fulfilled the prophecies of the prophets because they too had seen the signs of His birth. And yet, now with calamities all around them, “there began to be great doubtings and disputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given” (3 Nephi 8:4).
How Do We Hear Him?
In the midst of the destruction, tribulations, and great mourning Christ spoke to the people in the Americas, “And it came to pass that there was a voice heard among all the inhabitants of the earth, upon all the face of this land” (3 Nephi 9:1). They heard Jesus speak directly to them and explain how they could become members of “the kingdom of God” (3 Nephi 9:22).
In the midst of a pandemic filled with civil unrest, physical destruction in many cities, and economic troubles, how do we in 2020 also “Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith History, 1:17)?
I have heard Him as my family and I participate in the ordinance of the sacrament each Sunday at home. I have heard him during biweekly ward Relief Society lessons. I have heard Him through our dear Prophet President Russell M. Nelson and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson.
Most recently, I was praying intently for a specific purpose. Throughout the week, I was praying multiple times a day. I was praying formally and informally and could hear Him through the Holy Ghost on multiple occasions through a thought in my mind, an interaction I had, and as I was guided through my day. I knew that the Lord heard me, and I knew that I could hear His voice.
I am sure that for the Nephites to hear the voice of the Lord was such a relief for them. While they couldn’t see him, yet they could hear Him. While we anxiously await the Savior’s Second Coming, we can also #HearHim. I testify that I have heard Him as I have sought Him even during this hard and trying year.
He Gathers Us
After a great silence in the land, the voice of the Lord is again heard. Jesus says, “how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings” (3 Nephi 10:5). We have witnessed President Nelson asking us to “help gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil” (“The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming, Ensign, Apr. 2020). We are a part of the gathering, and as we are being gathered, we will be kept safe.
The Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121-122 (“Chapter 40, 3 Nephi 8-11,” [Institute manual, 2009]) teaches: “A hen cares for her chicks and would sacrifice her life to protect them. When danger threatens, she gathers the chicks under her wings for protection. In a similar way, the Lord loves His people, the house of Israel. He gave His life for His people and has sought to gather them together so he could protect and nourish them.” When the danger threatens, Jesus gathers us with His love.
This year, there have been so many dangers, yet we have been gathered and prepared. As Christ gathers us, He protects us and nourishes us. We might ask ourselves, “How does He protect and nourish us?” One activity that has helped me this year is to reflect on how the Lord has blessed my life each day and to record these tender mercies. I have felt the safety and protection of being part of the gathering.
He Came and He is Coming Again
In one of the few recorded times we hear the voice of God the Father, we read, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him” (3 Nephi 11:7). Then Christ declares, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Nephi 11:10).
The September 14-20, 2020 lesson in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families explains: “With these words, the resurrected Savior introduced Himself, fulfilling over 600 years of Book of Mormon prophecies. ‘That appearance and that declaration,’ Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote, ‘constituted the focal point, the supreme moment, in the entire history of the Book of Mormon. It was the manifestation and the decree that had informed and inspired every Nephite prophet. … Everyone had talked of him, sung of him, dreamed of him, and prayed for his appearance—but here he actually was. The day of days! The God who turns every dark night into morning light had arrived.”
This year, more than ever, I long for Christ to come to the Earth again. It is sometimes easy to not grasp the reality of the Savior. It takes faith to know that He came to the earth, and it takes faith to know that He will come again. Like the Nephites, I see the signs and feel the heaviness of the world of this time.
Some days, I am overwhelmed at the parts of this year that have magnified the injustices of this world, the frailties of men, the corruption of governments, and the fragility of life when faced with sickness, poverty, and hunger.
But with hope and loud acclaim, I #HearHim as He is gathering all who will come to Him because I know He will come again. Without Him there is: despair, misery, concern, dread, fear, hopelessness, and darkness. Through Jesus Christ there is: relief, excitement, wonder, amazement, peace, hope, and light.