We live in a violent world. I think it’s always been a dangerous place, at least since Cain’s rebellion. But it’s getting worse. Much worse.
I don’t read much news—it’s sickening to me—but I am exposed to it nonetheless, usually through social media. I’m not burying my head in the sand. I’m hiding my heart from the iniquity that abounds in this fallen and falling world (see Matthew 24:12). I can hardly stand it.
Every day, I am crushed by news reports of shootings and other vulgar, senseless crimes. The most troubling are those committed against children. Then there are disasters, wars, and the endless human suffering that follows.
Who can take it all in? I wonder how much longer God can stand it, much less us.
It isn’t like we haven’t been warned. Jesus foretold of a perplexing time when men’s hearts would fail them for fear:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21:25–26; emphasis added.)
I don’t think He was talking about a medical condition requiring bypass surgery. He’s talking about an emotional or spiritual failure caused by sin, crime, and other frightful world events.
Like a great monster, fear could consume us, swallow us whole. But there is a remedy, a way out. The admonition to “fear not” appears over and over in the scriptures. It’s an admonition to have faith, trust God, and be patient, especially in times of trouble as in our day.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13.)
Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (2 Kings 6:16.)
Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks. (D&C 98:1.)
Moroni warned us that “despair cometh because of iniquity” (see Moroni 10:22), but in the next breath he promised:
And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me. (Moroni 10:23.)
A modern apostle, Howard W. Hunter, offered these comforting words:
If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.
We live in a time of iniquity and despair, but it is also a time of great hope. It’s possible to move forward every day with “a perfect brightness of hope” (see 2 Nephi 31:20) though it requires a firm mind and constant positive action. In other words, real faith. The real deal.
This chilling reminder from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve comes to mind: “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
Our hope need not disintegrate though families and the world itself disintegrate around us. Yes, violence and persecution rage, but we can endure it.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22.)
It won’t be long. We know for certain that it won’t be too long.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22.)
Hang on. Hold on. Hope on. It will all work out. Embrace your faith as you would your child in a tornado. Above all else, keep looking up.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. (Psalms 121:1.)