Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Floods, Fires, Volcanos, Mudslides, Tsunamis, and Worse



by Saint Mark (bio)

I'm sorry. I can't believe that [fill in the blank] destroyed your [town/city/state/country/area of the world]. I pray you and your loved ones are all right. Because of the experience you have gone through, I felt the need to write this post. I hope it gives some hope to you in your time of need.

From my own personal experience of 36+ years on this planet, I can't help but feel that the volume of natural disasters that occur each year has increased over time. As I have studied the scriptures, these calamities seem to be in line with what was foretold. For example:

"Behold I speak for mine elect’s sake; for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." (Matthew 24:7; see also JSM 1:29)

"And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." (Revelations 16:18)

"And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." (Luke 21:11)

"And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places." (Mormon 8:30)

"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;" (Revelations 6:12)

"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows." (Mark 13:8)

"And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another." (D&C 45:33)

"Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire." (Isaiah 29:6)

Undoubtedly, a natural disaster has just hit another city/state/country/area of the world. You who are reading this may have just gone through it and thankfully survived. Although I have written this in the past, I believe it applies to any victim of a natural disaster in the future.

In this season of strife and calamity, I think of what President Gordon B. Hinckley said to the General Authorities of the LDS Church on September 12, 2001, the day after 9/11. He said, "We live in very troubling times ... Now, let's get to work." (from "Conversations," President Hinckley quoted by Elder David A. Bednar). I think this is sage wisdom from President Hinckley: yes, it is deeply unfortunate and sad that natural disasters occur and that lives are shattered and lost. Having been to an area post-disaster (Joplin posts here and here) and hearing the testimonies of tribulation first-hand, I don't wish those experiences on anyone. With that said, we cannot languish in our sorrow and suffering. That will only breed more of the same. We must, as President Hinckley suggests, "get to work." Or, in other words, we need to help others and help our families rebuild, repair, and resurrect our lives. As the old saying goes, "Sh*@ Happens." And I believe, we cannot stop and smell the sh*@. We need to "go to work" and move on. Self-pity never cleared debris or comforted an orphan or provided shelter or gave a bite to eat or gave its shirt off its back. Only service and work have.

Here are some additional thoughts by President Hinckley which I think are apropos. Speaking to some students who asked for counsel to take back to their university, President Hinckley said, "Tell them to have faith. Faith in themselves. Faith in the Lord. And, faith in the future." (from "Conversations," President Hinckley quoted by Elder David A. Bednar). Despite this horrible [fill in the blank], if you have faith in yourself, in Jesus Christ, and that things will improve in the future, I know that you can overcome this.

I leave you with these final words from the hymn "How Firm a Foundation." When I joined the Joplin, Missouri saints for their first church meeting after the tornadoes ravaged their community, together we sang all seven verses of this well-known hymn by John Keith. I had sung this hymn many times before, but I had never sung or even read the last three verses. Although it was published in 1787, the words applied to the challenges these faithful saints faced in 2011 as well as the challenges that you now face.
1. How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word;
What more can he say than to you he hath said?
You, who unto Jesus, for refuge have fled.

2. In ev'ry condition - in sickness in health,
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth,
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

3. “Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design,
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

6. “E'en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov'reign eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when grey hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

7. “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes:
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never - no, never, no, never forsake!”

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