When the Prophet Samuel the Lamanite stood atop the city wall of Zarahemla and proclaimed to the Nephites the signs of both the birth and death of Jesus Christ, he did so with “the intent that [they] might believe on his name” (Helaman 14:12). Like the Nephites, we are presently witnessing signs that were foretold long ago about our day and the Savior’s Second Coming (see “Signs of the Times,” Guide to the Scriptures, scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). We have been counseled, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5: 8). In these latter days, we also need to take time to ponder ways that we have witnessed our Lord’s hand in our lives.
Calamities and Global Connections
One of the recent signs that has gripped the whole earth in 2020 is the COVID-19 pandemic. To the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed that the Saints living in the last days: “shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land. But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:31-32). We can no longer doubt that such vile infirmities and “pestilences” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29) can spread quickly around the globe and engulf the entire human race in a matter of weeks. Our planet, once thought vast and expansive, is now considered small and easily covered. There are no untouchable corners and nowhere to hide.
Even though this concept can cause us fear, it also proves the unity we share as children of God. This pandemic gives us the opportunity to reach out to others, embracing technology to communicate across the globe and witness the charitable acts of our brothers and sisters. We have a new global connection to each other like never before.
There are on-line videos of artists and singers performing from their balconies so that their neighbours in isolation could hear and be entertained. These small acts of kindness, meant only for those within hearing distance, are being broadcast to the entire world, repeatedly played on social media platforms and covered in the news. We live in an age when truly the whole earth can witness events that can be shared and “taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:58).
Guided by Prophetic and Personal Revelation
At the April 2020 general conference, we witnessed a gathering, not in the physical sense, but in a social, emotional, and spiritual context. We unitedly gathered as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to hear the words of the Lord’s living apostles and prophets as well as other leaders and youth.
Collectively, they provided us with guidance and counsel that we can share with the world. The physical isolation caused by a pandemic is compelling people to reach out in new ways, listen with new ears, to seek truths, and turn their hearts to their families.
This teaches us that regardless of whatever tribulations, roadblocks, or walls we face in the last days, we can be guided and comforted. The Lord has promised, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61). We can be guided both by what prophets teach us and by personal revelation.
The August 31-September 6 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families lesson teaches: “Just as Samuel did, we all encounter walls as we ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ (Helaman 14:9) and strive to follow His prophets. And like Samuel, we too bear witness of Jesus Christ, ‘who surely shall come,’ and invite all to ‘believe on his name’ (Helaman 13:6; 14:13). Not everyone will listen, and some may actively oppose us. But those who believe in this message with faith in Christ find that it truly is ‘glad tidings of great joy’ (Helaman 16:14).”
Strengthened through Christ
One of the miracles Christ performed as He walked the roads of Palestine that inspires me occurred when Jesus went to his Apostle Peter’s house where the mother of Peter’s wife lay sick with a fever. Seeing this, Jesus “touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them” (Matthew 8:15). Later that evening, many others who were afflicted and ill and “believed on his name” (Joseph Smith Translation 4:22 [in Matthew 4:23, footnote f]) were brought to Jesus, and He “healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17). This testimony helps me to have faith in Christ as we face pandemic challenges and their aftermath. No matter what tribulations we face, Jesus truly testified of His divine mission, “I am come that [you] might have life, and that [you] might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).