Chapter Nine: Wars and Rumors of Wars

by | Mar. 31, 2005

Sunday School

When I decided to join the military, I searched all of the different branches and chose what I thought would be the best one for me, the United States Air Force. It was 1991, and Desert Storm was coming to an end. One of the things I remember most about my training was preparing for chemical warfare. We began our training with a short briefing regarding how to put on gas masks. The last part of the briefing worried me the most. We learned that we were to actually experience, to a small degree, what it would be like to be in a chemical warfare environment.

We boarded a bus that drove us out to an old trailer in the middle of nowhere. About twenty of us got out of the bus and were instructed that the trailer was filled with a small amount of a chemical used in war. We put on our gas masks and, with great anxiety, entered the trailer. A small amount of mist hanging in the air made me nervous. I did not want to feel the effects of the gas. In a loud voice that echoed from under his mask, our leader yelled, "I'm going to stand in front of each one of you, and I want you to take your mask off and tell me your name and Social Security number. Then I want you to put your mask back on and go outside."

I was terrified. I stood about halfway down the line and watched as he came to each soldier. They did as he asked and then quickly ran out of the trailer.

It was my turn. He stood in front of me. I quickly took off my mask and began to state my name and number. I stuttered as I spoke my name and could hardly remember my number. My lungs began to burn, my eyes watered, and my face began to sting. I quickly put on my mask, ran from the trailer, and yanked off the mask so I could breathe the gas out of my lungs. It was a frightening experience. As I cleaned that small dose out my lungs, I thought how horrible that chemical would have been at full strength. Wouldn't it be nice not to have to worry about training like that?

Today, years later, I find myself thinking about the following scripture regarding the last days: "And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men's hearts shall fail them" (D&C 45:26). War is a horrible thing. People die and suffer, and nations are ravaged. Why, then, is war a sign of the second coming of the Savior? Because Satan loves war. He loves suffering and will do anything to make us miserable. Let's look at a scripture that describes how Satan feels: "And he [Satan] had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced" (Moses 7:26).

God, on the other hand, wants us to choose happiness and live righteously. "Men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). God knows, however, that men and women may use their agency for good or for evil, to follow him or to follow Satan. When President Gordon B. Hinckley was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he said:

War I hate with all its mocking panoply [display]. It is a grim and living testimony that Satan, the father of lies, the enemy of God, lives. War is earth's greatest cause of human misery. It is the destroyer of life, the promoter of hate, the waster of treasure. It is man's costliest folly, his most tragic misadventure. . . .
But since the day that Cain slew Abel, there has been contention among men. There have always been, and until the Prince of Peace comes to reign, there always will be tyrants and bullies, empire builders, slave seekers, and despots who would destroy every shred of human liberty if they were not opposed by force of arms. ("Lest We Forget," 3)
So if war is to be a part of our lives in the last days, what are we to do? The Lord says, "Renounce war and proclaim peace" (D&C 98:16). One of our responsibilities is to proclaim peace. And our responsibility to do that doesn't start with nations, it starts in our homes. We must fight Satan on our own turf. We must love and honor our parents, help and serve our brothers and sisters, and eliminate contention in our homes and schools. Then, if we are called to fight bigger worldwide battles, at least our souls will be ready. We will be at peace.

President Hugh B. Brown spoke words of comfort and assurance: "I want to say to you, brethren, that in the midst of all the troubles, the uncertainties, the tumult and chaos through which the world is pass-ing, almost unnoticed by the majority of the people of the world, there has been set up a kingdom, a kingdom over which God the Father pre-sides, and Jesus the Christ is the King. That kingdom is rolling forward, as I say, partly unnoticed, but it is rolling forward with a power and a force that will stop the enemy in its tracks while some of you live" ("The Kingdom Is Rolling Forth," Improvement Era, December 1967, 93).

Many of you are fighting this battle already. God bless you as you do your best to proclaim peace at home and at school. Captain Moroni was in a situation similar to ours today. He was a man of peace but was compelled to go to battle in order to protect his family and his beliefs. His heart did not glory in war or in killing people but "in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity" (Alma 48:16).

Regarding the horrible attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, President Hinckley said, "The God in whom I believe does not foster this kind of action. He is a God of mercy. He is a God of love. He is a God of peace and reassurance, and I look to Him in times such as this as a comfort and a source of strength" ("The Times in Which We Live," Ensign, November 2001, 73).

As wars rage around us and all over the world, may we have the faith to believe that all things are in God's hands. May we look past the horrors of war to the glory of Christ's coming. May we look to God for strength and do as Captain Moroni did--live righteous lives so that the very powers of hell may be shaken forever (Alma 48:17).

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