At times, as I look at the upheavals and changes in the world, it is easy to get dispirited or lose hope. As I read of the calamities and destruction foretold by Prophets both ancient and modern, it is easy to be filled with fear. As the positions the Church holds become less and less accepted, I wonder what the future will hold. Will I lose friends or jobs or opportunities because of my faith? WIll I one day be called to sacrifice even more?
Yet, this weekend I had an incredible opportunity that reminded me of the importance of keeping hope despite all of these trials. I was able to meet with an influential church leader (whose identity I will not mention) and to discuss some of the current challenges facing the family. Throughout it all, I came away impressed that despite his keen awareness of the difficult issues facing the church and the nation, his message was one of hope. He felt impressed that the message that our generation needs to hear is one of hope. Despite increasing trials, the family, the church, and society will endure.
I reflected on this message after my meeting, and came away impressed of its truthfulness. In the scriptures there are copious examples that provide us a reason to hope. Satan thought that he had triumphed when he convinced Eve and Adam to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The scriptures teach that ” he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.” (Moses 4:6). For a moment, it seemed that Satan had triumphed. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden and shut off from the presence of God. Darkness, murder and wickedness spread across the world. Satan had great power and dominion over the world. And yet the fall contained the very seeds of rebirth that would culminate in the flourishing of the atonement.
Adam and Eve understood this truth and therefore rejoiced even in a fallen world.
“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. (Moses 5:10-11).”
Another powerful example is found in Mormon’s final epistle to his son Moroni. The total destruction of the Nephites was before them. They would be hunted until none remained. Yet, even in this moment of despair Mormon urged his son to have hope:
“My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever. And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen. (Moroni 9: 25-26).”
The atonement of course represents one of the most poignant examples of this phenomenon. As Christ suffered in the garden and on the cross, the forces of darkness seemed in complete control. One of the apostles had betrayed him another denied him and the rest had scattered. The very elements seemed to shudder in pain and the sky was darkened on at least two continents. Yet, without Christ’s death there could not have been an atonement. In his sacrifice lay the seeds of rebirth and resurrection.
All of these examples in the scriptures should give us great hope. Despite trials and challenges, good will triumph over evil in the long run. Christ has overcome the world. We need not fear. Even though evil will at times have small victories, Christ will be the victor. We are called to play our part and to declare a message of hope to a darkened world. We may at times wish we lived in a different times, but truthfully we live in the greatest of all dispensations. As the world darkens, others will be drawn to the light of the Gospel.
I love President Packer’s words of hope from a recent conference
“Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth: “The way things are going, the world’s going to be over with. The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be.” Not so! You can look forward to doing it right—getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren.”