What Tuesday Taught Us
by W. Jeffrey Marsh
“Apply Thine Heart to Understanding” (Prov. 2:2)
When Abinadi stood before the priests of King Noah, he said, “Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise” (Mosiah 12:27)
Wisdom is the application of knowledge. It is the ability to discern inner qualities, to have insight about relationships, especially the relationship between eternal gospel principles and the purposes of life. To know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to testify and to declare. To live the Gospel, however, is to apply the principles and strive to become more like the Savior.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has observed, “For most members of the Church this spiritual rebirth takes place gradually; it is a process. They become alive to one spiritual reality after another as they keep the commandments and seek to sanctify their souls.” (New Era, Aug 1971, 36.)
The purpose of this column is to discuss the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in light of the application they can have in our lives. As the proverbs counsel, “Apply thine heart to understanding,….unto my knowledge,….unto instruction” (Prov. 2:2; 22:17; 23:12).
On Tuesday, September 11th, I witnessed on television one of the World Trade Towers engulfed in flames. I called to my son to come up and see what was happening. He had just received his mission call and this was his mission field! Together we watched in shocked disbelief as a plane hit the second tower. Then we witnessed and heard reports of one nightmarish event after another throughout the morning. My mother called Korey (my son) to see if he had learned of what was happening. He said, “Grandma, they’re bombing my mission!”
The stunning feeling of helplessness in those moments led to much soul-stirring reflection. Numerous questions came to my mind. What would the future hold?
By sheer coincidence that day, I came across these calming words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who had stated years earlier, “And yet I am an optimist. I have a simple and solemn faith that right will triumph and that truth will prevail. I am not so naive as to believe there will not be setbacks, but I believe that ‘truth crushed to the earth will rise again.’ When I left for my mission some 36 years ago, my good father handed me a card on which were written five words. They were the words of the Lord to the ruler of the synagogue who had received news of his daughter’s death: ‘Be not afraid, only believe.'” (Conference Report, April 1961, 76.)
Just two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City on business. I walked from the Lincoln Center, down Broadway, to Battery Park on the south end of Manhattan. Times Square was busy and bustling as ever with people trying to get tickets for Broadway shows. The closer I got to “ground zero,” however, the more crowded, and quieter New York was. Shoulder to shoulder with numerous others, I walked all the way around ground zero.
When I caught my first glimpse of the destruction, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was surreal to even imagine such a cataclysmic loss of life. A woman just ahead of me glanced up at the torn and twisted buildings, then collapsed on a nearby stairway and wept. Surrounding buildings were covered with dust, and plastered with cards and well-wishes from all over the world.
As I turned up another street, I was greeted by numerous people handing out pamphlets. One was entitled, “Fallen but not Forgotten.” Another said, “Why?” Some of these were filled with dire warnings of future calamities, a few with words of consolation. Standing nearby were people wearing red jackets. Above them was a banner that read “Prayer Station.”
There are many in today’s world who live with uncertainty. In times of stress, calamity, and even war, there is a peace we can experience that surpasses all understanding. As He prepared Himself for Gethsemane, the Savior promised, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) This is not a time for fear, but for greater faith.
It is not the circumstances of life that determine whether or not we experience the Lord’s peace, rather, it is our determination to draw nearer to God because of those circumstances. President Brigham Young wisely observed, “Thrust a man into prison and bind him with chains, and then let him be filled with the comfort and with the glory of eternity, and that prison is a palace to him. Again, let a man be seated upon a throne with power and dominion in this world, ruling his millions and millions, and without that peace which flows from the Lord of Hosts – without that contentment and joy that comes form heaven, his palace is a prison; his life is a burden to him; he lives in fear, in dread, and in sorrow. But when a person is filled with the peace and power of God, all is right with him.” (Journal of Discourses, 5:1-2.)
After having visited New York, and personally seeing the patriotism, humility, and good will of many people, I was at peace about having a son serve in that mission. Could there ever be a better time to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to New York City?
When I returned from New York, I received an email from a friend. It sums up how even horrific tragedies, afflictions, and the cruel vicissitudes of life can be “consecrated for our gain” (see 2 Nephi 2:2):
“On Monday there were people fighting against praying in schools. On Tuesday you would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.
“On Monday there were people trying to separate each other by race, sex, color and creed.
On Tuesday they were all holding hands….
“On Monday we were talking about athletes as our heroes. On Tuesday we learned what it really means to be a hero.
“On Monday parents argued with their kids about picking up their room. On Tuesday they could not get home fast enough to hug their kids.
“On Monday there were people upset that they had to wait in line at the grocery store. On Tuesday they stood in line for hours to give blood.
“On Monday politicians argued about budget surpluses. On Tuesday, grief stricken, they sang ‘God Bless America’.
“On Monday we were irritated that our rebate checks had not arrived. On Tuesday we sent money to the families of people we had never met.
“On Monday we emailed jokes. On Tuesday we emailed words of strength, solidarity, and hope.”
Sometimes it takes some great event to place things into perspective. May the lessons learned this past month help us not take for granted or overlook the peace and hope that only Jesus Christ affords us. “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world” (Ether 12:4).
President George Q. Cannon testified, “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. He is an unchangeable being; the same yesterday; the same today; and He will be the same throughout the eternal ages to come. We have found that God. We have made Him our friend, by obeying His gospel; and He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them, if we only trust in God and keep His commandments.” (Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [1897-92], 2:185.)
2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.