It's been nearly 50 days since the First Presidency temporarily suspended meetings worldwide, and while some people may have adapted to the new socially-distant normal, others may still be longing for comfort during troubled times.
The website for the Liahona recently added a digital-only section called COVID-19: Messages of Faith. The section contains 15 articles specifically addressing circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first listed article, “A Special Message for Unsettling Times,” explains how the Lord prepares His people for perilous times and how we can find peace through the Savior. It provides answers to questions about activities and worship, and links to messages of hope and comfort.
The other articles are grouped into categories: home-centered worship, finding and spreading hope, dealing with grief and loss, missionary work, and temple work. Links and short summaries are provided below.
“The Church Is More than a Meetinghouse” — Three authors from the Church History Department explain how this isn’t the first time members of the Church have had public worship services canceled. They detail how influenza pandemics, the 2014 Ebola outbreak, World War II, and the “Freeze” in Ghana also affected worship. Like those Saints, we are blessed to have the promise from the Savior that “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
“What Church at Home Taught Me about Meeting Together” — In this piece for young adults, Sissa Svensson writes that during the time she has been worshipping from home in Sweden, she has “realized that church is about much more than just getting together with friends each week. It’s about taking the sacrament, feeling a sense of belonging, supporting each other, and building a community of faith in the kingdom of God.”
“A Sabbath State of Heart” — Carol Scharnhorst, who lives in Georgia, writes how though her Sunday schedule looks different during this time, treasuring the Sabbath remains the same. “The Sabbath is a safeguard," she says. "How I treat it will either keep me safe in the ship of Zion or allow me to be washed overboard into dangerous seas.”
Finding and Spreading Hope
“Hope for a Better World” — In this piece for young adults, Hadley Gebs, who lives in Wyoming, writes that even during a time of fear and panic, there is still hope. “There is still goodness in this world. Sometimes we need to look for it. And sometimes we need to be it.”
“Four Lessons of Light for Dark Times” — Yulia Salomatina, who lives in Russia, writes, “Although circumstances may seem dark and dreary like the cloud, the Lord’s love for us is far mightier, like the sun.” She shares four lessons she’s learned during COVID-19: there is safety in following the prophet, preparation combats fear, attitude makes a difference, and the Holy Ghost is a powerful ally.
“Finding Hope in the Epicenter” — Romina Ranieri lives in Italy, which was struck hard by COVID-19. She shares how she has found peace in a panicked time. “Although I have felt so much fear and anxiety during this time of difficulty in the world, I truly know that with Jesus Christ, there is hope! Turn to Him. Hear Him. Follow Him," she says. "We can find peace in Him.”
Dealing with Grief and Loss
“Grieving This Season of Loss” — Marissa Widdison and Family Services Staff explain that grief doesn’t just come from losing loved ones. “Grief is a natural reaction to any loss, including the disruptions caused by the recent pandemic,” the article reads. The authors explain understanding grief, getting through in a healthy way, helping others (especially children), and that Jesus is with us.
“Mourning with Those That Mourn Means More Now” — Meledie Knopf, who lives in Washington, writes about the blessings she has seen during the pandemic. “Even the very air I breathe was created by the Lord through priesthood power and is a gift from Him," she writes. "So, although I am a widow and have no priesthood holder living in my home, I know that the blessings of the priesthood are still mine to enjoy, even—and maybe especially—during this difficult time.”
“To the Unexpectedly Reassigned Missionary” — Amy Davis knows what it’s like to be unexpectedly transferred. In 1997, she was serving in Albania and with the political climate growing tense, she received a phone call saying they would be removed from the country. “While the details of your experiences will be different from mine, I bet some of you are feeling similar mixed emotions right now,” she writes. She shares six principles that helped her find peace.
“Sent Back, but Facing Forward” — Sandy Beck dreamed of serving a temple mission after her husband died. “I felt that it was a way I could walk hand-in-hand with my husband—we could both be constantly engaged in the same work, just on different sides of the veil,” she writes. She was called to serve in the London England Temple, but in March the temple president notified her that she would be sent home immediately and she said her heart felt crushed. She describes how the Spirit comforted her and how she is facing forward, even though she doesn’t know what the future holds.
“Stuck in Côte D’Ivorie” — Ethan Flitton had served in Côte D’Ivorie for five months when COVID-19 started to spread. When he found out he was headed home, he was heartbroken. However, when an airport closed down, Flitton was stuck with other missionaries in a hotel, not doing missionary work but not headed home either. Flitton shares the miracles that fell into place so he could return home.
“Looking Forward to Being Sealed” — Ai Uryu planned to marry her fiancé in the Sapporo Japan Temple. When the temple closed, Uryu had to find another plan, and while finding that plan she grew closer to her fiancé. “He and I were living in different places, living separate lives, and unable to get together,” she writes. “But we decided to pray together and talk about the things we were learning from our gospel study. We made decisions together. Even though we remained physically apart, our bond deepened, and he seemed closer.”
“(Temporarily) Changing My Plans for a Temple Marriage” — Aleesa Pratt had a dreamed of being married in the temple since childhood, and when COVID-19 came along, all of her plans suddenly changed. Getting married was supposed to be a happy time, but that happiness was out of reach, until one day she prayed with her fiancé for peace to move forward. “As we prayed, peace washed over us,” she writes. “I remember feeling comforted, and I knew we were making the best decisions. One day I would have a beautiful sealing in the temple—it would just require some patience to get there.”
“Doing Sacred Work in Quarantine” — Kaith Ashley Moran, who lives in the Philippines, shares how she has felt the blessings of sacred temple work, even though she can’t currently attend the temple. “Even though the temple doors are closed, the work of preparing ordinances is not," she says. "Our ancestors are still on the other side of the veil, waiting for us to learn more about them.”
READ THE MESSAGES OF FAITH AT THE Liahona.