These past few weeks I have been glued to my computer, watching with every passing hour news updates about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). My kids’ colleges and schools closed down and moved to online education. Graduation ceremonies cancelled. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temporarily shut down all church meetings and activities worldwide as have other churches. Broadway and other large music venues postponed performances. The NBA, MLB, PGA, and other sports stopped playing. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic left the world in a state of panic, isolation, and fear. Yet, there is hope. I truly believe that we can have faith in turbulent times, no matter our circumstances, but how?
Limit media and look for the good
Things are changing so fast right now that I can’t even keep up. In fact, as I have been writing this, the above map has already changed, with over twenty thousand more people infected today. Every day I see exponential increases in deaths and contaminated people. It’s overwhelming and has left me in the fetal position many times. I’m worried. What will our world look like physically, emotionally, and economically when this is all over? How many people will be missing loved ones? Will I lose someone I care about? Why is there so much looting and hoarding? I feel inundated with the news and sometimes want to cry.
During these turbulent times, we need to take a step back, limit our media, and replace our fear with faith. I know it’s hard to do. I myself am struggling. But when I step away and look for the good it helps. Go for a walk in nature if you can, play a game with your family, text or call a friend. Look for the silver lining.
Count Your Blessings
I have seen many blessings during this crisis. With my children home, we have played more games, enjoyed more meals together and even roasted marshmallows in our backyard. I watched neighbors help others who were out of supplies and check in on each other. I called my parents and took a gardening class online.
With modern day technology we can lift and support one another even from our homes. There is good in the world. I see it in everyday heroes making a difference. What miracles have you witnessed recently? Write them down. Pay attention. If you see a need, fill it. Your unique gifts and talents can lift and support others. Find creative ways to serve. Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do. Having faith in turbulent times IS possible. We CAN do this and we can do it together!
If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear
Doctrine & Covenants 38:30 states, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” I love that scripture! For as long as I can remember, prophets have told us to be prepared both physically and spiritually. Am I? Do I have enough food to feed my family in case of a long-term quarantine? How is my spiritual preparedness? What if I can’t get to a store?
I am not alone in these feelings. The United States seems to be in a frenzy of fear and panic shopping. Because of this, we haven’t had access to basic necessities like toilet paper, flour, eggs, and milk. I can feel the anxiety in the air. Many people, afraid of catching germs, wear gloves and masks as they pick through what’s left on the shelves. In this flurry of chaos my daughter had a full blown panic attack while shopping at Smith’s. Thankfully her sister took her to the car while I checked out. I couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of our own home. Had I been more prepared, I could have spared her from this mayhem.
This panic is widespread. The other day I was told that over 600 people were waiting for our local Costco to open so that they could do their shopping. The woman on the phone told us not to come unless it was an emergency. “It’s complete pandemonium. I’ve never seen anything like it in the 20 years I’ve worked here!” This chaos isn’t just found at Costco. All the local grocery stores have had long lines and empty shelves with people waiting up to 2 1/2 hours for checkout. With the increase in demand, stores have had to modify their operating hours as well as limit the number of people who can enter at a time. In my entire lifetime, I have never seen anything like this before. So how can we be more prepared?
We have been told to be temporally as well as spiritually prepared. You can find a ton of resources to help you with your preparedness on this website: providentliving.churchofjesuschrist.org.
In addition to a good education and avoidance of debt, the prophet has encouraged us to have supplies on hand in case of an emergency. From the church website it reads:
“President Gordon B. Hinckley said, ‘We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster.’ But those goods cannot help us if we cannot reach them. He continued, ‘The best storehouse is the family storeroom’ (‘If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,‘ Oct. 2005 general conference). It’s the most accessible reserve in times of need and the best suited to our individual needs.
As you build and maintain your emergency supply, include the following items:
- Clothing and bedding
- Drinking water
- Financial reserves
- Important documents
- Longer-term supply of basic food items
- Medication and first aid supplies
- Three-month supply of food that is part of your normal diet
- Ways to communicate with family following a disaster
Another way to prepare for an emergency is to receive first aid, CPR, and AED training through a certified program.”
In addition to these items, we are also encouraged to have 72-hour kits ready in case of a last minute evacuation (which I have seen the need for several times in locations with hurricanes and other natural disasters). We are told not to panic buy, but to slowly build our storage until it is complete.
Knowledge is Power
To help calm my heart and feel peace, I went down to my basement to assess my food storage situation. If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. Preparation begins with knowledge. I didn’t want to face my own situation, but I also knew that ignoring it would be far worse.
Since I got married, I have always had some sort of food storage. At one point, I even had a year supply of life saving food as well as the other necessary items. I WAS prepared. But moves, medical emergencies, and job losses made it necessary for us to use or let go of a lot of our food storage. As I calculated our stores, I realized that we no longer had enough for our family to last three months, let alone a year.
I must admit, that I felt a little bit panicky after doing an inventory. Why did this emergency have to happen now? We’ve been kicked down pretty hard over these past five years. Did Heavenly Father understand? What about our 20+ years of being prepared? Did that matter? Will we survive?
Maybe it’s too late, or maybe it’s a wake up call. But I do not want to put my family in this situation again if I can help it. I don’t have the means or resources to build up everything at once, nor do I want to with the depleted available resources, but I can do a little and I can start today. This is where faith comes in.
The Lord Will Provide in Our Time of Need
The Lord knows our hearts. He knows our struggles, our pains, our weaknesses, and our desires. I have complete faith that He will make up the difference if the need arises. The Lord can replace our fear with faith and calm our troubled hearts.
Many of you are familiar with the story of the Widow of Zarephath found in the Old Testament. It is one of my favorites! The prophet Elijah had been sent from place to place with the promise that God would take care of his needs. The next destination he was led to was the city of Zarephath.
1 King 17:
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
What tremendous faith!
I can only imagine what the Widow of Zarephath thought when Elijah asked her to share her last meal. She may have wondered, “Are you crazy? We are about to die and you want me to share?” Yet, she had the faith to follow the Lord’s prophet in spite of her circumstances. He provided a miracle for her. Not only did she have enough to make two meals, her cruse of oil and barrel of meal “wasted not” until the crisis was over. Like the loaves and the fishes, the Lord’s miracle spared her household and there was more than enough to get by.
I feel certain that this same miracle is available to each one of us. We need to do the best we can and then allow Lord to step in if needed. Each of us can play a part in looking out for our neighbor. Now is the time for kindness, patience, and love. We can bless others and have faith that it will all work out in the end.
The Miracle of the Toilet Paper
I have been talking for over two weeks now about the toilet paper shortage. It has become a constant meme on social media and my sisters and I have joked about it incessantly. Yet, looking at my own toilet paper stores, I can see why it’s a problem. We didn’t have enough toilet paper to last a two week isolation.
I have six children, one on a mission and one in college who came home for a visit. The rest live at home. I also have a nephew who temporarily needed a place to stay as his college shut down. That’s a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of bottoms to wipe. Dave and I had gone to countless stores only to come home empty handed. We bought a few napkins and paper towels just in case, but I must admit that I was surprised by the continued lack of toilet paper in the stores.
Once again, the Lord provided!
As I was writing this post, I literally heard a knock at the door. It was a neighbor who had a slice of cake for me and 10 rolls of toilet paper. Ten! I offered to pay her, but she just gave them to me and left.
While many countries don’t have the luxury of toilet paper, like the people I visited in Guatemala, I was given this tender mercy. Having some extra toilet paper in my closet allowed me to feel peace in turbulent times. My faith in humanity restored, I, too, could share in a time of need.
Being Spiritually Prepared
In addition to being temporally prepared, we need to be spiritually prepared. Just after 7 am on March 18, 2020 (two days prior to writing this), I sat down on my bed to begin my scripture study. As soon as I started reading, my bed began to shake. I looked over at Dave to see if this was some kind of joke, only to see him looking back at me in alarm. As the shaking increased, he exclaimed, “We are having an earthquake!” What? I didn’t understand. The Coronavirus had me so consumed in self pity and worry that I couldn’t possibly grasp what was going on. How could God allow this to happen when we were already in a pandemic isolation with a scarcity of resources? I know that Heavenly Father knows best, but sometimes I feel like He tries me to my limit. Yet I have found my greatest growth as a result of my trials.
Sure enough, it was an earthquake. My phone flooded with text messages from neighbors and family. My kids had been woken up and were in the hallway, some crying. Nobody was prepared. I ran to check on my neighbor’s children as she was still on her way home from work and then came back home to be with my own family. I sat on my bed with my daughters and showed them a video on earthquake safety. Then we prayed.
Thankfully, while this was the largest earthquake to hit Utah since 1992, the damage was minimal. None of us were hurt and our home was fine. Salt Lake City was a different story. The angel Moroni statue on the Salt Lake Temple had lost its trumpet (which became the source of a plentitude of memes on social media). Buildings had bricks crumbling from their walls and the Salt Lake Airport closed temporarily. Yet, overall, the damage was minimal as were any injuries. We were lucky.
The Power of Scripture Study
It took me all day to resume my scripture study. But I eventually did. In a time when we need to be prepared, spiritual preparedness is by far the most crucial.
We live in a time when “men’s hearts shall fail them.” (D&C 45:26) I am not immune to this. How can we find this “peace that passeth all understanding” as promised in the scriptures? (Philippians 4:7) The answers are simple yet sorely overlooked.
In the October 2011 General Conference, Richard G. Scott said,
“Our Father in Heaven understood that for us to make desired progress during our mortal probation, we would need to face difficult challenges. Some of these would be almost overpowering. He provided tools to help us be successful in our mortal probation. One set of those tools is the scriptures.“
I agree wholeheartedly. My love for the scriptures grows the older I get. One scripture that has helped me recently is from 2 Timothy 1:7. It reads:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.“
We don’t need to be afraid. God has promised us power, love, and a sound mind. What more can we ask? Elder Scott continued,
“Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high.”
I am grateful for this counsel and promise. If we embrace the scriptures, we can received guidance and inspiration from on high, but we need to ask for it.
The Power of Prayer
There is a great power that comes from prayer. In the April 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson said,
“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
This is more true now than every before. If we are to have faith in turbulent times, we need to have the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives. In order to receive this kind of revelation we need to feed our spirits as if our lives depended upon it.
There is a way to be spiritually prepared. It requires constant daily devotion to the Most High. President Nelson gives us a guide.
In his talk he outlines what we need to do.
“Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.”
“Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation.'”
I have followed this pattern in my own life and it has been life changing for me.
I am not perfect at daily, meaningful prayer. Especially during this time of uncertainty. But I have tried and I know that this is exactly what we need at this time. President Nelson continues,
“Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.”
“To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.“
Having Faith in Turbulent Times
I know we live in difficult times but I also know that we can do this! There are many things we can do to make a difference. I must admit that I am less worried about getting the virus than I am about the world conditions during and following this COVID-19 viral outbreak. Though I have asthma, and catching the Coroanvirus is still a concern, I am doing all I can to do my part. To help “flatten the curve,” our family has been in self isolation for over a week now. Except for the needed shopping trips and occasional walks, we haven’t left our house. This is not easy, but I believe it will make a difference.
If your heart is weary, there is hope. I love this video message from our modern-day prophet, President Russel M. Nelson on how to have faith no matter our circumstances.
While at times I have felt my heart fail me, I have also felt an abundance of faith and peace. I know that things are not perfect. Life feels scary and uncertain at times. But I know that if we look for the good, prepare ourselves temporally and spiritually, and put our trust in God, we can have faith in turbulent times! You can do this!
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