On a Sunday in October of 2006 there was an earthquake in Hawaii. The epicenter was off the northwest coast of the Big Island, and shocks were felt as far over as O’ahu. Some of the most luxurious hotels on the Big Island were shut down indefinitely due to damage taken, and the shaking caused power generators on O’ahu to trip and shut off for hours.
I was in Hawaii when this happened, living as a missionary. I was in the shower in our apartment when the lights went off and, left in complete darkness, went tumbling out of surprise. After recovering and drying off, I found the rest of the lights throughout the island, including the traffic lights, were all out. Consequently, LDS leaders canceled Church in order to keep members safe.
It is significant that the earthquake took place on a Sunday. As missionaries, we often set goals in order to give our work direction and keep ourselves motivated. We, as an entire mission, had set a goal to bring a certain number of people to Church with us, a number that we hadn’t reached before. Reaching this number would mean that we were blessing the lives of more people, helping them come unto Christ, and that, to us, was a worthy endeavor.
But the earthquake shook that goal. No one went to Church that Sunday, and in some cases we lost progress that’d we’d made over the past few days and weeks.
We were doing something good. And then all hell broke loose.
We are embattled in the struggle of good and evil. Ephesians 6:12 says,
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
But though we struggle against the evil of the world, we need not fear, for the Lord is with us. He told a group of missionaries in this day,
“I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them“ (Doctrine & Covenants 32:3).
What pattern can we take from these two scriptures? When we’re on the right track, doing something good, all hell is bound to break loose, because we are in a very real battle against evil and spiritual wickedness. But we need not fear, for the Lord is with us, and nothing will prevail against us.
Trial is bound to come. When it does, we have two choices – we can persevere through it, trusting in God; or we can give up, and take an easier road.
What happened when Church was canceled? For some, it was the best Sunday they ever, as they worshipped the Savior with their families at home. For others, it was just blah – they couldn’t decide whether to sing first or to pray first, so they gave up and sat in lawn chairs on their driveway.
The People of Ammon
The People of Ammon were a group of Lamanite converts who decided not only to join with the Nephites, but to covenant with God that they would no longer take up weapons of war against their brothers (Alma 24:12). This was a very good thing! They were leaving behind a life of sin to follow Jesus Christ, and they were promising to never again kill another person.
And then all hell broke loose. Lamanites, angry that some of their people had joined with their enemies, came up against the People of Ammon with the intention to slay them (Alma 24:20). The People of Ammon, true to their covenant, chose not to fight. Instead, they simply “prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword” (Alma 24:21).
There were more than a thousand righteous people slain.
But this had intriguing results. Those Lamanites that had been slaying the People of Ammon were so sickened by what they were doing that they stopped on the spot. Touched in their hearts, they also threw down their weapons of war and decided to join the People of Ammon. In fact, more people joined with the People of Ammon than had died that day (Alma 24:22-27), and all those who died were no doubt receivers of salvation.
The People of Ammon had two choices when all hell broke loose. They could trust in God, and possible die for their belief; or they could break their covenant, and slay their brothers. They chose to trust in God, and were ultimately blessed.
I know this principle is true. Sometimes, even (and perhaps especially) when we are being the best and doing the best, all hell will break loose. But we can trust in God, for He is with us, and nothing will prevail against us.