A Pandemic Meme-Above All, Trust God
My life has changed dramatically during this pandemic. I went from watching my 2-year-old granddaughter three days a week with four days to study and think long and deep. These days, I look after my dear Emma five days a week while mom and dad work from home. Long weeks. Long days. And much less time to contemplate the truths of the Gospel. Despite that, I feel the Spirit quite often as I pray and study-for which I am so very grateful!
Today I was reading in Alma 43 and had some thoughts I’d like to share. The war chapters have typically been my least favorite in the Book of Mormon. It occurred to me today that we are experiencing a war of sorts right now within our country and culture. The key words in this war are hatred, anger, and fear. I believe I need to be very clear here. The war I speak of in our day is the struggle for hearts and minds. Alma describes a battle with the Lamanites that originates in the heart and the mind. Where win or loss catalyzes at the intersection of intent and emotion. On the one hand, Alma describes the Amelekites/Zoramites/Lamanites. Alma 43:5 And it came to pass that the Lamanites came with their thousands; and they came into the land of Antionum, which is the land of the Zoramites; and a man by the name of Zerahemnah was their leader. 6 And now, as the Amalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were, in and of themselves, therefore, Zerahemnah appointed chief captains over the Lamanites, and they were all Amalekites and Zoramites. 7 Now this he did that he might preserve their hatred towards the Nephites, that he might bring them into subjection to the accomplishment of his designs. 8 For behold, his designs were to stir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into bondage. 11 Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi...” 43 Now in this case the Lamanites did fight exceedingly; yea, never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength and courage, no, not even from the beginning. 44 And they were inspired by the Zoramites and the Amalekites, who were their chief captains and leaders, and by Zerahemnah, who was their chief captain, or their chief leader and commander; yea, they did fight like dragons, and many of the Nephites were slain by their hands, yea, for they did smite in two many of their head-plates, and they did pierce many of their breastplates, and they did smite off many of their arms; and thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger. 48 And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them….” Hatred. Fierce/Extreme Anger. Subjection. Bondage. Usurp Power. Shrink. Flee. Fear. As I study our current landscape, I witness the emergence of corresponding memes--hatred, anger, subjection, bondage, power grab and fear, lots of fear. Again, clarity. I don’t ascribe these motivations to any one group. Unfortunately, action and reaction play out across our society to a deleterious destructive effect the world over. Alma shows us a different way to be. Alma 43:17 “And Moroni took all the command, and the government of their wars. And he was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites. Alma 43:23 But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed into the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp; and Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him, desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites. 24 And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people. And those messengers went and delivered the message unto Moroni. 26 And he caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties; therefore they were prepared against the time of the coming of the Lamanites. 29 And now, as Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land; 30 And he also knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church, therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem; therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take. 45 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. 46 And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God;... 47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion. 48 And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage. 49 And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage. 54 Now Moroni, when he saw their terror, commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood. Inquire of the Lord. Word of the Lord. Duty. Defend and Preserve Lands. Country. Homes. Liberties. Wives. Children. Church. Religion. Rights. Inspired By a Better Cause. They Were Prepared. Cry with One Voice unto the Lord their God. Compassion. Liberty. Freedom.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, God appeals to our better nature. To meet hatred with love. To meet anger with peace and kindness. To meet fear with faith. Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Most of us have not reached [a Christlike] stage of compassion and love and forgiveness. It is not easy. It requires a self-discipline almost greater than we are capable of. But as we try, we come to know that there is a resource of healing, that there is a mighty power of healing in Christ, and that if we are to be His true servants we must not only exercise that healing power in behalf of others, but, perhaps more important, inwardly.” “The Healing Power of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 59. "I also think of Christ when he was on the earth and the hatred he was confronted with. The example of him drawing in the dirt and his truthfulness spoken only after pondering first. Diffusion of anger, and communication of peace." Miranda Paynter Our call is to trust God. President Thomas S. Monson declared: “Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. …My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.” “Be of Good Cheer,” Ensign, May 2009, 92.
Above all--Trust God.