The current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been a big concern we all have right now. And there seems to be some good reason for it too.
Here’s just some of the examples of how it’s affecting members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- All Public Gatherings of Church members are being temporarily suspended worldwide until further notice.
- All Public Worship Services, including sacrament meetings- suspended.
- Branch, ward and stake activities, suspended.
- General Conference Only those who have been invited to speak or pray will attend. The music for the conference has been pre-recorded.
- Missionary Work Reassignments. MTC trainings virtually being done.
- Church Educational System (CES) Schools like BYU with classes cancelled.
- Temple Worship Several temples have been closed
- Preventative Measures for Members Precautions given
- Church Workforce New Guidelines provided.
- Church Aid Donations and service provided in areas of need.
We are told that in the last days a “desolating sickness shall cover the land” ( D&C 45:31 ). Even if you don’t think the COVID-19 is a fulfillment of the prophecy, you can take comfort in the fact that God is aware of what we will go through.
“Yet, through all of this, the Lord Jesus Christ has said: ‘… if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.’ (D&C 38:30.)
“What, then, is the Lord’s way to help us prepare for these calamities? The answer is also found in section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, wherein he says:
Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments; [D&C 1:17–18, 37].
As concerns regarding the coronavirus continue to increase, we should remember to not react out of fear, but use our faith, wisdom, and common sense to help the work of the Lord continue during these challenging times. (Coronavirus (COVID-19) Policies and Guidelines)
Here’s how the Lord has been preparing us for this time
1- A Living Prophet
The Lord gives us clear direction through His prophets. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)
We can trust His prophets. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38)
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures.
They aren’t just prophets and Presidents for the Church. But they are prophets for all in the world. Designed to bless all of our lives. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. (Prophets)
Our greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of the Church:
“Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–6).
So isn’t it wonderful that our Heavenly Father put a prophet on the Earth to help us know what to do and prepare us?
2- God Called a world renowned Doctor to be our Prophet in these Days
President Russell M. Nelson was sustained and set apart as the 17th president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, January 14, 2018.
An internationally renowned surgeon and medical researcher, President Nelson received his BA and MD degrees from the University of Utah (1945, 1947). He is a member of honorary scholastic societies Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. He served his residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at the University of Minnesota, where he was awarded his PhD degree in 1954. He also received honorary degrees of doctor of science from Brigham Young University in 1970, doctor of medical science from Utah State University in 1989, and doctor of humane letters from Snow College in 1994.
President Nelson’s professional work included the positions of research professor of surgery and director of the thoracic surgery residency at the University of Utah, as well as chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Author of numerous chapters in medical textbooks and other publications. A host of awards and honors have come to him, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah, the Heart of Gold Award from the American Heart Association, a citation for International Service from the American Heart Association, and the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement. He has also been awarded honorary professorships from three universities in the People’s Republic of China.
President Nelson has served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association, and president of the Utah State Medical Association.
My dear friends, our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ know us, love us, and are watching over us. Of that we can be certain.
These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways.
So, during these uncertain times, be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.” I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear Him and obey His laws.
I love you. I pray for you. And I promise that you will receive comfort and peace as you continue to hear Him.Russell M. Nelson
3- Home Centered, Church Supported
In January 2019 some big changes were made. That have prepared the Saints to have a home be a place of gospel learning.
Church leaders also announced changes to the Sunday meeting schedule. Which shortened the 3 hour church block a 60-minute sacrament meeting and a 50-minute class period.
“We are each responsible for our individual spiritual growth,” President Nelson said. “And scriptures make it clear that parents have the primary responsibility to teach the doctrine to their children. It is the responsibility of the Church to assist each member in the divinely appointed role of increasing his or her gospel knowledge.”
Elder Cook said, these changes will allow us to focus on:
- Deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening faith in Them.
- Strengthening individuals and families through home-centered, Church-supported curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.
- Honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament.
- Helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work and receiving ordinances and covenants and blessings of the temple.
Research indicates that personal religious devotion and scripture study in the home have a greater impact on conversion that any other factor. The home-centered gospel learning, was designed to inspire learners to experience the power of God’s word for themselves.
With the announcement that there should be no church meetings until further notice, this is a great time to truly practice and strengthen our gospel centered homes.
4- Come Follow Me
In support of 2 hour church. A New curriculum, Come Follow Me, was launched with an emphasis in scripture study in the home as individuals and families. The purpose of Church curriculum has always been to increase faith in Jesus Christ and lifelong conversion to Him and His gospel. What makes Come, Follow Me different is an increased emphasis on the home as the best place to nurture faith and conversion. Church classes are meant to support—not replace—the home in this role.
5- Home Teaching to Ministering
April 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced a significant change to the way members serve and care for each other.
The separate programs of home teaching and visiting teaching will be “retired,” he said, becoming a coordinated effort called “ministering,” a “new and holier approach” to Christlike caring for others and helping meet their spiritual and temporal needs.
The the First Presidency counseled, to just do the best you can. “In addition to whatever schedule you establish for actual visits, ” Elder Holland said, “that calendar can be supplemented with telephone calls, written notes, texts, emails, video chats, conversations at Church meetings, shared service projects, social activities, and a host of possibilities in the world of social media.”
In a time where it may not be desirable to have people over at your home, having the Lord has again provided us a way to still watch for each other.
6- Children and Youth Program
In January 2020, The Children and Youth Program replaced all other children and youth programs for the Church. The new Children and Youth program is more home-centered and Church-supported and will include a heavy focus on using personal revelation to determine individual and group needs and goals within the program.
The program is designed to be adaptable for members everywhere and there is no “one right way” to follow it. Now, with all current activities cancelled, Children and Youth can still grow in four major areas — spiritually, physically, socially and intellectually.
“You will need to seek personal revelation,” he continued. “You will need to choose for yourself how to act on it. Sometimes the Spirit may prompt you to do things that are difficult. I think you are up to the challenge. You can do hard things.”
7- Being Wise in Managing Our Finances
For many years, Church leaders have asked local leaders to practice and teach principles of sound financial management, including making wise investment decisions. On February 14, 2019, a letter was sent requesting that we reinforce these principles and hold a fifth-Sunday lesson in March or June 2019 for the adult members of the ward.
“We encourage [you] to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise… [and] do not go to extremes… With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” (See All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage).
Isn’t it just wonderful that the Lord put a prophet on the Earth to help people know what to do and how to be prepared? A prophet who happens to be a world renowned doctor. Even though church was canceled, our prophet has been having us learn how to study and have church at home. Sabbath day observance has been a large focus in just the last couple of years. We have been prepared for these times. As long as we continue to listen to the Lord’s voice, we need not fear.