Note: The beautiful picture of the hen gathering her chicks is from Liz Lemon Swindle.
FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), under the direction of President Obama’s administration is inviting us to be prepared. “With climate change exacerbating many of these threats, preparedness is more important than ever… Droughts and wildfires are becoming more frequent and severe in some regions of the country. And climate-related impacts, like rising sea levels, increasingly powerful storms, and heavier downpours are contributing to an increased risk of flooding.”
I do believe FEMA’s “grassroots campaign” called “America’s PrepareAthon!” is needed. I hope the goal to “increase community preparedness and resilience” to meet disasters and destruction staring us down is achieved. Preparation is essential. But why are the forces of nature more frequent and severe? Jesus Christ foretold that in the last days there would be violent storms, famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes (see Matthew 24:7). Why? Have you ever asked yourself why?
I don’t challenge that scientists are finding change in climates. But the forces of nature upon us may have deeper spiritual meaning than scientific meaning. There is a cause much deeper than man’s ignorant or careless behavior when it comes to the environment. There is something else exacerbating the threats. The ignorance and carelessness in our personal nature must be considered.
The Lord created the earth, He governors it. He can subdue the earth and dismiss all of Mother Nature’s fury. But again we have to ask ourselves why He said the earth would experience ferocious calamities. The scriptures give some answers. Sometimes it takes some hard lessons and experiences to bring out humanity in the inhumane all around the world.
Believer or non-believer, the scriptures present that the Lord calls upon us to repent with his own voice and with the forces of nature. Though there are several examples from the Bible, I rely on the some verses from the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon brought forth under the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. In speaking of preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ the revelation states:
Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord; For if I, who am a man, do lift up my voice and call upon you to repent, and ye hate me, what will ye say when the day cometh when the thunders shall utter their voices from the ends of the earth, speaking to the ears of all that live, saying—Repent, and prepare for the great day of the Lord?
Yea, and again, when the lightnings shall streak forth from the east unto the west, and shall utter forth their voices unto all that live, and make the ears of all tingle that hear, saying these words—Repent ye, for the great day of the Lord is come?
And again, the Lord shall utter his voice out of heaven, saying: Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you. O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!
How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (Doctrine and Covenants 43:21–25).
The image of a hen gathering her chickens is striking. Our Savior knows how to preserve, protect, and nourish us. But we often reject His counsels. The Savior rebuked the inhabitants of Jerusalem for stoning and killing the prophets “which are sent unto thee.” God sends prophets to establish and teach His doctrines which have been changed and distorted through false traditions of men. The scriptures provide numerous accounts of people rejecting prophets sent by God and therefore were scattered, or taken into captivity, or even destroyed. It is not any different in our day. The Savior told the inhabitants of Jerusalem the consequence for rejecting the prophets was that their “house would be left unto [them] desolate (Matthew 23:37–38).
These verses from the Book of Mormon gives us a glimpse why houses, neighborhoods, communities, indeed cities can be (and have been) left desolate.
“Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
“And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
“O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
“Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!” (Helaman 12:2–5)
We are being visited for not walking in wisdom’s path. I am confident the weather patterns and the physical nature of the earth (governed by the Creator) will be favorable when the hearts and minds of people remember the Lord their God and repent of behaviors and false philosophies contrary to His commandments.
For these reasons, faith counts and religion matters.