In late 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that Sunday church services would shift from three hours each Sunday to just two. As a member of the church, I was surprised and very grateful (three-hour church with small kids can definitely be a trying experience). The impetus behind this change was to give us more time to study the gospel as families at home. Over and over, we heard our church leaders say that effective gospel learning and conversion to Christ is home-centered, church-supported (not the other way around).
As church members, we were given a curriculum to guide our study at home called “Come, Follow Me” (referring to Christ’s admonition in the New Testament to follow Him). We spent all of 2019 studying the New Testament as individuals and families using “Come, Follow Me” as a guide. This year, we’re studying the Book of Mormon.
I believe God is all-knowing, and I believe Russell M. Nelson is God’s prophet on the earth today, just like there were prophets in ancient times. (Sidenote: You can watch a beautiful message of hope he shares during COVID-19 through this link.) When I recently heard that church would be canceled for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19, I was again surprised. My surprise shifted to gratitude as I realized that God had prepared us for this change. I believe the “Come, Follow Me” program is inspired. God knew there would be a time when we would not be able to attend church. He prepared us as individuals and families to study the gospel at home. He prepared our spirits, hearts, and faith to be able to weather this time when we wouldn’t be able to meet together to worship Him. Just as He provided manna for the children of Israel when they weren’t able to access food, He’s provided us with metaphorical spiritual manna while we’re not able to access that through our worship services. God is good.
Recently while on a walk outside my home, I was listening to the song “Peace in Christ” by McKenna Hixson. Each year, our church makes an album of encouraging songs to go along with the theme for the church’s youth program. This song, “Peace in Christ,” was the theme song for 2018. As I was listening, these words struck me, “When there’s no peace on earth, there is peace in Christ.” I thought, “Wow, again God was preparing our hearts for this crazy COVID-19 experience.” Through music, He was teaching us that all peace can be found in Christ, regardless of what is happening around us. All the words from this song bring so much comfort and peace to my heart as I listen.
My prayers are with those deeply affected by COVID-19. Our family is currently healthy, and thankfully we have plenty of food, diapers, etc. I believe God is the Father of us all. Even if you don’t believe in Him, I believe He is aware of you. He is near you. He will see you (and all of us) through this challenge. I’m grateful to know that death is not the end and that we can live as families forever.