A message of confidence for Latter-day Saints who feel concerned about the challenges of our times.
My husband is an old-school avid newspaper scanner. As for me, I barely have the heart to peek at the headlines. I sense the reality behind the words; there is so much more human suffering reported across the globe than I can respond to or make sense of.
And it’s not just in Pakistan or Afghanistan or China. Disasters on our own soil have made all of us feel vulnerable. The twin towers, then Katrina, and many others since have made us recognize that anything is possible. Recently the California fires have impacted many of our brothers and sisters. This very week many people in the Salt Lake Valley lost homes to fires that swept through the hills of Herriman just a few miles from my house. Physical disasters are heart-wrenching, but the emotional and moral challenges exceed the physical. How can we avoid living in fear?
“I’ve got you covered!” is a familiar phrase. It usually applies to life-threatening situations in war zones. I would like to show how the Lord covers us from every last-days threat in ways that are amazing.
Covered with the Garment of the Holy Priesthood
I have had first-hand experience of the physical protection of the garments we are privileged to wear after we have received our endowments. When I was in serious freeway accident my life was spared and no part of my body covered by the garment was injured.
Perhaps even more important, however, is the spiritual protection we receive from the garment—protection from the adversary. We are literally covered with a promise of protection. I feel that protection when I need it most. Even when I don’t feel it, I know it is there.
Covered with the Whole Armour of God
Ephesians 6: 11, 13 counsels us to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Bunkers and radiation-safe walls are available to few. Armies and navies are “arm of flesh” protection and are limited at best. However, the Lord offers his most protective coverings—such as truth, righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Sprit to all who have the courage to accept them.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).
What better coverings could we possible desire?
Covered with His Strength and Comfort
Alma pled with God, “O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. (Alma 31:30) And, “the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith. (Alma 31: 38)
And so it is with us. Our afflictions are covered. Or better, put, swallowed up in the joy of Christ. I think of the Apostle Paul telling us how all his trials were all made as nothing by his joy in serving the Lord. 2 Corinthians 7:4, “ I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
However, not all of us have what it takes to be joyful in tribulation. I’ve been more like to be depressed by it—at least at the time. And even to be drawn into sin—especially of omission when I feel paralyzed by it all. That’s when I need most to remember Christ’s mercy.
Covered with His Mercy
We all fall short and sometimes feel forsaken. We know we need more than justice; we need to be covered with the Savior’s mercy. In 3 Nephi 22:1-8, 10 we read, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.”
I was listening one day to Gerald Lund’s The Work and the Glory series on tape. Nathan was trying to explain to his brother, Joshua, how the Atonement works. (Joshua was having a hard time grasping how the Lord could “pay” for his sins since you can’t change the past.) To illustrate, he asked Joshua what would happen if his six-year-old son, Charles, threw a ball that shattered the neighbor’s plate glass window. Charles had no resources, no ability to pay for the window. But Joshua did, and so he, of course, said that he would pay for the window. After paying for his son, he would set the condition for any chores or other recompense that his son would be required to do.
Just as Joshua could pay for the window and satisfy justice, so the Savior has paid for all our mistakes, all our broken windows—because he loves us. And He sets the conditions for our repentance. His payment doesn’t change the past. It doesn’t change the fact that the windows were broken. But it can change the future.
I’ve had many broken windows in my life—some broken by my own choices, some broken by the choices of others. I’m so grateful for the mercy of the Lord who “covers” the damage from all of them.
Covered with His Love
Sometimes the very calamities we dread turn out to be the best evidence of the Lord’s love—especially when they turn us to the Lord and humble us even unto repentance. In D&C 95:1 we read, “VERILY, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you.” The covering we can always bank on is His love.
Covered with His Spirit
The covering we need to seek with all our hearts is His Spirit. David Tuttle responded to one of my previous articles with a wonderful story that he gave me permission to share. He said,
“You reminded me of the experience a Sunday School teacher shared when he had an entire weekend alone in his apartment while attending BYU. Because all his roomies were gone, he decided to fast and to read the Book of Mormon. Things went well for the first day and he enjoyed the uninterrupted time by himself, thoroughly immersed in the scriptures.
“Suddenly, during his reading on the second day of the fast, he caught himself moving through the book about as quickly as he could turn the pages.
He had not realized it until that moment that he had been reading (scanning, absorbing) the content of pages in seconds and fully comprehending it. As he reflected on this singular experience, he was humbly grateful and particularly aware of God’s kindness in giving him this witness of the truth–of both fasting and prayer as well as of the veracity of the things he was grasping and understanding.
“I have experienced similar illumination when praying a prayer dictated almost wholly without thought on my part, but giving me such marvelous insights into the challenge I was facing as to be nothing less than pure intelligence flowing from my lips, but not from my head.”
So many times, when we put ourselves in the proper environment and frame of mind, the Spirit can increase our abilities, give us sorely needed guidance, and teach us truth line upon line, precept upon precept. The Spirit also makes up for our weakness, or makes “weakness strong unto us.”
Covering Our Weakness
Some time after my son’s death, I wrote to my trusted friend and counselor, Ed McCormack, saying, “I have found an incredible level of peace in regard to Brian, such a wonderful gift from God. Curiously enough, not so much in regard to me . . . I’m still struggling with old programming, old lies believed, old insecurities.”
His response surprised and edified me. He wrote,
“Wonderful! I know what you mean. I have my own version of this. It can be quite difficult at times, but it also increases my faith —
1. That The Book of Mormon is true.
2. That Heavenly Father is good for his word.
3. That Heavenly Father loves me.
“ Why? Because He is showing me my weakness, as He promised, along with His instructions on how to respond to what I see. (Ether 12:27, 37) I think Ether 12:27, 37 is the formula for finding out the will of God in the matter. Vs. 27: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” So it looks like our weaknesses, properly understood, are an important part of the formula for progress
“And Vs37: “because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared [for you] in the mansions of my Father.” Where would you be..and where would you go…without your weakness? Or without seeing your weakness?
It doesn’t say that all of our weaknesses will be made strong right away. But that they will all be made strong “unto you”. That is to say, they will all be made part of a very personal, strengthening, sanctification process, through the sufficient grace of the Atonement, unto one day “sitting down in the place which I have prepared [for you] in the mansions of my Father” [when all of this weakness is through].
“So, I suppose we will carry some essential human weakness to the grave. In the providence of God. After asking, even pleading, even priesthood blessings, it will be as He wishes for us. So, it is important to say, “Thy will be done” about them. He knows best what weaknesses we need to have healed, removed, or strengthened right away…and what weaknesses we need to continue to have for growth, progress, humility, wisdom, compassion, forgiveness. What weaknesses we need to have, period. So, I think it is an exercise in finally trusting in the members of the Godhead strongly enough, more than an exercise in finally getting strong enough.”
Brother McCormack also referred me to 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, 2 Nephi 33:11, Jacob 4:5-7, Alma 2:27-28, Ether 3:2-3, 2 Nephi 4:19, Moroni 10:2-3. I’ll share Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10, and let you look up the others: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
No wonder we can say with Nephi, “My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions . . . O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! . . . O Lord I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.” (2 Nephi 4:20, 33, 34). How I would love to be “covered” with His robe! What could be a better promise of safety?
Because the Lord Has “Got Us Covered”
We Can Be Safe and Warm
In Proverbs 1:33 we read, “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Safety doesn’t necessarily mean bodily safety. We all will die and in the end, we shall be “covered” with the blessings of the resurrection, and if we love Christ and follow Him, with the blessing of becoming like Him.
In Moroni 7:48 we read, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
If we continue to turn to Him and become like Him, we are promised that the Savior will actually change “our vile bodies” our corruptible, weak and fragile bodies, which are so susceptible to sickness, temptation and death. In Phillipians 3:20-21 we read, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
It is beyond my comprehension what it would be like to have a body fashioned like unto his glorious body. Surely that would be the best covering of all!
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