In early 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. President Russell M. Nelson, God’s Prophet for all the world, called for a worldwide fast, to ask the Lord for a miracle to deal with this global disaster. All people were invited to join.
Guided by Christ’s Chosen Prophet
Many members have said how blessed we are that President Nelson is the Prophet during this challenging time. We know God is at the helm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1984, when two vacancies occurred in the Quorum of the Twelve, President Spencer W. Kimball confirmed that the two men God wanted to fill these vital positions were Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks (see Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Sustaining of Church Officers,” Ensign, May 1984).
At the April 1984 general conference, President Kimball gave specific instructions that Elder Nelson be called first. In other words, our Heavenly Father foresaw which of the two should be the senior apostle that would fill the position vacated upon the death of President Thomas S. Monson.
The Lord is in charge. He knew that Dr. Russell Nelson would have the training, perspective, experience, and international reputation, especially in China, that would be needed to lead His Church during COVID-19 and the resultant lockdowns, with their health, social, emotional, economic, and spiritual challenges that were coming.
Prepared for Challenging Times
We also now see how prescient it was to have the reduced Sunday meeting schedule, including the combining of high priests with the elders quorum. The introduction of Come, Follow Me resources prepared us to center gospel growth in our own homes, preparing us to transition to daily study, worship, and service during the lockdowns and beyond. These new directions are helping us build and maintain a closer, personal relationship with our Savior.
Seeing worthy fathers and Aaronic Priesthood bearing sons and brothers administer the sacred ordinance of the sacrament in homes has strengthened our families and their faith.
President Nelson declared the development of COVID-19 vaccines, quicker than ever before, as a modern miracle “that many have worked, prayed, and fasted for” (“The First Presidency and Apostles Over Age of 70 Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine,” Newsroom, ChurchofJesusChrist.org, Jan. 19, 2021). Technology known for decades was utilized by inspired men and women scientists to create these vaccines. He would not have said that without divine confirmation.
Although an acknowledged famous physician himself, President Nelson consulted with his own doctor before he and Sister Wendy W. Nelson were vaccinated themselves. Their actions were for their personal protection, and they provided an example to 17 million Church members (who in some respects are like his “patients”). Recently, the Missionary Department of the Church announced, “Young missionaries in the United States who will travel to a mission outside their home country should be vaccinated before traveling” (“Church Encourages Missionaries to Receive a COVID-19 Vaccine,” Newsroom, ChurchofJesusChrist.org, Apr. 30, 2021).
Ongoing Revelation and Government Laws
Let’s review a couple of timely, relevant scriptures from the Articles of Faith that both inspire and guide us:
“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9).
“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12).
President Nelson’s leadership clearly demonstrates that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are continuing to reveal Their counsel and guidance to living prophets.
We also obey and sustain the laws of the lands that protect and guide us wherever we live. If we don’t agree with what our government does, we work within the system to advocate for necessary changes.
These truths strengthen us during these trying times to be able to follow President Nelson’s prescription that we daily find ways to #GiveThanks. One way we can express our gratitude is to sing joyfully, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet To guide us in these latter days” (“We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” Hymns, no. 19).