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I live in northern California where the death toll is still rising from the ashes of the worst fire in the state’s history. Families have lost loved ones, homes, businesses—the devastation is jaw-dropping.
The United States is sharply divided on political issues, and violence over differing opinions is worse than we’ve ever seen it. Even within families (perhaps emboldened by the vicious rhetoric on social media?) we see people quarreling as never before.
And in our personal homes, people struggle with adversity every day. Parents sob in their beds, worried about wayward children. Couples seem quicker to end their marriages. Others juggle multiple jobs and try desperately to put food on the table for their children. Health issues abound—both my husband and I are battling cancer as I write this.
But I maintain that we live in the most wonderful, exciting time in history. So these are absolutely the worst of times, but only for one individual, and that is Lucifer. He is trying his best to thwart God’s plan, to make mankind miserable, and guess what? He may be winning an occasional battle here and there, but he is losing the war, and losing it enormously.
In fire-ravaged areas of California people are uniting. Tons—literally tons—of supplies are pouring in. Folks are opening their hearts and homes to help the displaced victims of this devastation. Heroes are being born—teenagers are tasting, for the first time, what it’s like to literally rescue someone else. Eyes are shining with gratitude. Wallets are opening with generosity. It leaves you breathless, amazed, and honored to be alive when such angels walk among us.
Many are choosing to set aside venomous attacks on websites and in texts. There’s a swelling call to action, for kindness and courtesy. Civility is being praised and people are realizing that we can accomplish more when we join together than when we divide. It’s as if society is maturing and people are finally acting like grownups, lowering their voices and trying to listen. Not everywhere, not yet. But it’s improving.
Our Prophet and other leaders are encouraging us to believe in the future, know that God hears our prayers, and exercise real faith about issues that trouble us. We are saying “thy will be done” more than “my will be done.” I hear people talking about the hereafter and what matters most.
And Christmas must drive Satan crazy. This is the most loving, glowing time of year when we remember our Savior and all he did for us. This is the peak of our feeling loved, and sharing that love with others. Perhaps we are praying with greater sincerity, reading our scriptures more, and drawing closer to God. Even the lonely are reaching out and serving others. And the others are involving them and letting them know they’re not alone.
And how about all the wonderful changes in this fabulous church? We’re emphasizing the original name, we have temples popping up all over, we’re ministering better, I could go on and on. Satan must be dying, if he could die.
I’m sure the adversary would love it if I would collapse in despair and whine, “Why me?” But the worse my situation grows, the closer I feel to my Savior. And I love irony, so this is kind of perfect.
A friend asked me how I stay so positive and I said, “It’s Jesus. I feel such a closeness to him and I know he has this.” Frankly, no matter how this shakes out, I feel completely at peace. If you can hang onto your testimony, then you can lose every other thing up to and including your own life, and you’ll be fine. If you stay on the covenant path, your heart will be at ease. Do I have loved ones I sorrow over? Absolutely. Do I have serious health issues? To say the least. Do I have other things that are none of your business? Ha—we all do. But God knows our concerns.
I used to give God ideas in my prayers. I would come up with very creative solutions and run them by him. And then I thought, “Are you kidding? Do you honestly think you have better ideas than God has?” And it occurred to me how nuts that was. My prayers changed. Instead of begging for solutions I beg for faith and patience. I ask what I am to learn. I express gratitude, and confidence in his timing and his ability to do what I cannot.
And I gain another victory over Satan. He no longer has me frantic about the future. He doesn’t have me wringing my hands with worry, devoid of faith. The scoreboard is greatly in my favor, and Satan is going down. All his efforts are backfiring—natural disasters, unrest, lack of faith, health problems, financial worries—people are rising to the occasion and filling one another’s buckets with faith and love.
He’s hoping they’ll give up, get angry, curse God, and die. But ta-da! We’re beating him. It’s Christmas and we love our Savior. We praise him and “stand all amazed” at his atoning sacrifice in our behalf. We know more about his grace, and how that works. We feel such joy and happiness that we’re sharing it with others. We’re asking God to forgive us, and we’re learning the sweet peace of forgiving those who have wronged us. We are doing everything Satan wishes we wouldn’t. Yes, these are the very best of times. Well, except for that one guy.
Hilton’s LDS novel, Golden, makes a great Christmas gift. It’s available in paperback and on Kindle. All her books and YouTubeMom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.
Michele DwinellDecember 26, 2018
Wonderful, wonderful piece, Joni! Blessings and prayers for healing for you and your husband. Keep writing, keep writing!!!
Sara StewartDecember 11, 2018
Wonderful message! Thank you, Joni!