In 2020, at one of the heights of the COVID 19 global pandemic, President Nelson announced that he would share a message with the world. Who can forget the loving eyes of a prophet of God sharing with the world a way for us to find peace in a very turbulent time? I was working from home, as was my husband, and my two teens were doing virtual school online. On my calendar that day, I set a personal appointment for the time of his message and looked forward to the time with longing. The time came and we joined other Saints throughout the world to hear his message.
Even remembering that message still brings to my remembrance a myriad of feelings. My family had cancelled our Christmas travel plans to see our family and like most of Canada was anticipating a holiday season largely alone. We wondered about our health and watched as many suffered throughout the world with grief, economic hardship, and mental despair. Being a follower of Jesus Christ had not spared us from also experiencing some of those pains. But hearing the words of our Prophet put air back into our lungs and gave us strength. Within his message was the promise of how to have the necessary spiritual protection despite whether a world-wide pandemic loomed or not. His prayer for the world included these words:
“We are grateful for all who are striving to combat the COVID pandemic. Please bless them with protection and inspiration. Wilt Thou help us end this virus that has plagued so many of Thy children.
“We thank Thee for the leaders of nations and others who strive to lift us. We pray for relief from political strife. Wilt Thou bless us with a healing spirit that unites us despite our differences.
“Wilt Thou also help us repent from selfishness, unkindness, pride and prejudice of any kind, so that we can better serve and love one another as brothers and sisters, and as Thy grateful children. We love Thee, our dear Father, and pray for Thy blessings upon us” (“President Nelson Invites us to Give Thanks.” Church News, Nov. 20, 2020).
In the years prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, President Nelson had traveled the world and each of us felt his personal love. Here in Ontario, we were blessed with his visit to the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario on August 10, 2018. My family and I waited in line and listened to his words teaching us about strengthening our families and homes. I love reviewing the visits of President Nelson to Canada. You can see the love and testimonies of the Saints in the Church News article, “Why President Nelson Visited Canada and What It Meant to Latter-day Saints There” (Church News, Aug. 20, 2018).
Through his worldwide travels, we witnessed and developed testimonies that indeed President Russell M. Nelson is the Prophet of God on the earth today. We can see how the Lord prepared members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the mouthpiece of his Prophet for the events that have happened in 2020 and 2021, and we can trust that this pattern will continue in the winding up stages in preparation for the Saviour’s Second Coming.
So unlike before, when I read the account of Noah I have a better understanding. There are many parallels to our world today. As recorded, Noah lived at a time when people thought and did evil continually (Genesis 6:5,11). God called Noah to be a preacher of righteousness to that wicked generation, but when the people rejected his message, Noah was commanded to build an ark, gather animals, and prepare for a flood.
I would say that we live in a world with much confusion, sin, and distance from God. President Nelson said in his worldwide message, “As a man of faith, however, I view the current pandemic as only one of many ills that plague our world, including hate, civil unrest, racism, violence, dishonesty and lack of civility”. (“Give Thanks” Church News, Nov. 20, 2020)). Like the Come Follow Me lesson suggests, we can apply the story of Noah and his family to us. Following the prophet can keep us spiritually safe in the midst of life’s personal and worldwide struggles.
I am not sure why the people of Noah’s time did not listen or why they rejected his message. They probably did not understand the logic of his words and wondered how the earth could be covered in a flood. Maybe they did not see their actions as wicked, or were confused about the commandments. Noah was not confused. “And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Moses 8:27).
My husband and I are trying to find grace in the eyes of the Lord like Noah did. We have come to know Jesus Christ and we want our two children to come to know him too. We are trying to walk with God. One of the beautiful parts to learning about Noah as a prophet, is to also learn about Noah as a father. His three sons were able to walk with God as well. This is what we yearn for as parents.
We are grateful to have a prophet on the earth today. He has beckoned us to have our own personal relationship with the Saviour and to #HearHim for ourselves. When I think back over the years of the COVID pandemic, I know that President Nelson was our “ark” of safety and protection and I pray that we will always have ears to hear God speak through him.