The author lives in Voronezh Oblast, Russia.
As I was walking my dog recently, I noticed a gray cloud pierced by rays of sunshine. It reminded me of the current pandemic. Although circumstances may seem dark and dreary like the cloud, the Lord’s love for us is far mightier, like the sun.
A common English saying is “Every cloud has a silver lining,” meaning that all adversity can teach us something beneficial. As I thought about what has helped me stay calm during the past few months and what hasn’t been so helpful, I realized there are four important truths that I feel will continue to bless my life long after this crisis is over.
Social media posts about the end of the world and fake news reports about creative ways to destroy the virus did not make me feel better about life. Even if these messages were intended to help people stay safe and healthy, they just made me feel more fearful than I already was. For example, after seeing the sixth story about how certain spices can supposedly kill the coronavirus, I remember stressing about whether we had an adequate supply of spices in the pantry, in addition to wondering if my death was imminent.
During general conference a couple years ago, President Russell M. Nelson invited us to participate in a 10-day fast from any media that brought negative and impure thoughts to mind.1 His counsel sounded like a warning to me, so I quit using a couple social media apps that had devoured most of my spare time. I became happier and less anxious.
Now I realize I need to clean up my digital habits again. I look back with awe and wonder: Did President Nelson know then that social media could be such a source of despair and negativity today, during this time of crisis? Truly there is safety in following the prophet. The words of our Church leaders are like one ray of sunshine, cutting through confusion and illuminating a path to peace.
Something else that’s made me feel uneasy has been hearing from people who, like in the days of Noah, mock others for their preparation and soberness. I think some people have developed careless attitudes about the future. Those who are truly wise follow the advice of prophets and carefully try to become self-reliant.
For years, Church leaders have taught us to become debt-free, to gain an education to better provide for ourselves and others, to have some food and water stored, and to save money if possible. I know every situation is different, and some countries don’t allow citizens to store food or other physical supplies. But even with those kinds of restrictions, it seems like each of us could identify something we could do to be more prepared for the future.
I feel safer when I’ve made an effort to be obedient and can approach the Lord with confidence when asking for help. This preparation is like another ray of sunshine, slicing through fear and highlighting hope.
This pandemic has made me even more grateful for people who encourage me with uplifting messages, spiritual insights, and healthy humor. These dear friends always brighten my day. They remind me that we can choose how we are going to react to whatever is happening around us.
I tried to follow this example when Church meetings were suspended. Instead of succumbing to my knee-jerk questions of “why” and “how,” I chose to focus instead on the positive aspects of home-centered gospel learning. I can see now that consciously nurturing a positive attitude, as hard as it was at times, helped me stay more spiritually strong than I would’ve been if I had just let bitterness take over. Like a third ray of sunshine, a good attitude can dissipate doubt and refresh our souls.
One day when I was feeling sad and lonely, I decided to listen to the Tabernacle Choir channel online. Music always helps me feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. There was a live chat on the channel, and it was fun to see people express their love and gratitude from all around the world! I felt united with them. As the influence of the Holy Ghost relieved my aching heart, I became more cheerful and relaxed.
I’ve seen time and time again that if I make an effort to invite the Holy Ghost into my life, He will help me with whatever I need. He is a powerful ally who is eager to bring us gifts of peace, comfort, and understanding. Like a ray of sunshine, He can dispel gloom and reveal what is true.
The Lord is stronger than any tribulation. As the second verse of hymn 89 says:
The Lord is my light; tho clouds may arise,
Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies
Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign.
Then how can I ever in darkness remain?2
I wish we could go on a walk together today. We could look up at the sky, soak in the sunshine, and talk about the truths that brighten our lives. I’m sure you would have great ideas for sharing that light with others. Perhaps you could imagine a walk like this the next time emotional storms crowd the horizon. The Lord is with us, and we don’t need to be afraid.