The year was 2011. Elder Gary E. Stevenson was serving as president of the Asia North Area of the Church when a 9.0–magnitude earthquake and accompanying tsunami resulted in 20,000 deaths and 551,000 destroyed homes in Sendai, Japan.
Now, in an article from Church News, Elder Stevenson shared what he learned from affected Latter-day Saints nine years ago—those he witnessed overcome times of personal loss—and related those lessons to our current experiences with COVID-19.
Elder Stevenson shares that as the pandemic has intensified, he has reflected on Nephi’s first sentence in the book of Mormon: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents . . . and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days . . .” (1 Nephi 1:1, italics added).
“In the midst of affliction and disappointment, the Lord also allows us to be highly favored by Him,” Elder Stevenson told Church News.
Elder Stevenson shared how he frequently visited the destruction site in north Japan and learned from the Latter-day Saints there who were overcoming personal loss. Elder Stevenson shared how their great pain was contrasted with the blessings that came, and specifically highlighted the blessing of the Sapporo Japan Temple, which began construction six months after the earthquake.
“These disappointments will pass over us, and one day we will be able to look back and see the great blessings, amid the afflictions, we have had in the course of our days,” Elder Stevenson said.
Read more from Elder Stevenson at Church News.