In a moment, everything can change. The appearance of COVID-19 has given us a sharp reminder that mortality is riddled with times of uncertainty and tribulation. How can we find confidence and peace? I can’t claim to have it all figured out, but I can share my recent experience and what Heavenly Father has taught me and my family.
I am an international student studying in Australia, and part of my studies required that I return to my home in Jamaica for a few months. I arrived in Jamaica in early March, and within a few days of my arrival the first case of COVID-19 was announced. My anxieties started to build. I had left my two young sons and my husband almost 17,000 kilometers away, back in Australia, and I wondered if they would be safe. Would I be safe?
One morning I listened to a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence.” Elder Holland spoke of trusting the original inspiration we received from the Lord and seeking further revelation knowing that the Lord will help us. This talk became an anchor for me through the decisions that lay ahead.
The first decision I faced was if I should stay in Jamaica or return to Australia. One morning my mind was so troubled and confused that I called my mother and started crying. I told her I didn’t know what I should do. But as I heard myself say those words, I realized it was a lie. I did know what to do. I needed to make sure I didn’t “cast away my confidence.” I knew the Lord had opened the way for me to be in Jamaica. I knew He expected me to stay, but it made no sense to me.
I called my husband, and we talked about it. He said, “If the Lord says stay, then stay.” This was a very difficult thing for both of us, especially because we did not understand the reason for the instruction. My husband had lost his job, and every employment opportunity had fallen through. I knelt on the ground and prayed as I think Enos must have prayed. I prayed with my whole soul, begging, pleading, and petitioning the Lord to create a way for my family to come home. When I was done praying, I knew Heavenly Father heard me, and my heart felt at peace.
The Holy Spirit prompted and guided me, and with the help of family members and friends we found a way to get my husband and children home. I was grateful and confident that all would be well, but still I had an undercurrent of concern. I tried to push the thought away and continued to hope.
As my husband and children were busy preparing for their travel, I was busy coordinating, praying, and fasting. One morning I picked up my scriptures, and they opened to Doctrine and Covenants 58:3–4. I pondered what the Lord was telling me.
The evening before my family was to leave Australia, there was a press conference from the Jamaican government. I sat down and listened to the radio. I felt so scared of what they would say, and, sure enough, they announced that the airports and borders would be closed the next evening. My family couldn’t get home in time. My soul felt crushed. I dropped to the ground and pleaded with Heavenly Father. I told Him I didn’t understand. We had given up our rental home, sold our car, and done everything we could so that we could be together in Jamaica. What would happen now?
It took a while for me to compose myself. I told my husband what had happened, and he was very calm and immediately thought of relatives they could stay with until the borders reopened. Later that night, I prayed again. I asked, “Why is this happening if I did what you said, Lord?” I distinctly heard the reply “You prayed that My will be done, but you didn’t mean that. You want your will to be done. Trust My way.” Immediately I knew He was right, and I asked for His help in having greater faith.
After a few days, Jamaica reopened to some categories of people, and my family fell into one category. I could hardly believe it. I called them immediately and rerouted them to come home.
The trip took them over 55 hours, through 6 airports. All along the way my heart was in perpetual prayer. Sometimes the Spirit gave me a hymn for comfort or I remembered phrases like “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say” and “Be still, and know that I am God.” I held on to the feelings and impressions as they came.
The afternoon they arrived in Jamaica, I saw my boys running through the doors of the airport shouting, “Mommy, Mommy!” And my sweet husband was following behind them. My heart was overjoyed. I felt the matchless power of a loving Heavenly Father. It was like the parting of the Red Sea in our lives. I discovered that my family was on the last flight into the country before the airport closed again.
So what do we do in times of great uncertainty, when we don’t know which way to go? We seek the guidance of our Heavenly Father. What do we do when we can’t make sense of His instructions? We trust Him still. As Elder Holland said, “Cast not away therefore your confidence,” and remember that our Heavenly Father keeps His promises. How do we endure extremely difficult circumstances? We take comfort in what we are taught in Doctrine and Covenants 58:3–4: “After much tribulation come the blessings.”