Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “How do I overcome my fear of the Second Coming?”
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I’m grateful to address this question. I think many of us feel some trepidation when we hear things like:
“We cannot afford to be complacent. We live in perilous times; the signs are all around us.” –President Thomas S. Monson
“Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion.” –President Ezra Taft Benson
“Time is running out.” –President Russell M. Nelson
As a teenager, I heard this fear expressed by a sister missionary serving in my ward. We were discussing the last days and the return of the Son of God when she said, “I hope I’m dead before the Second Coming. I don’t want to be here for it. It scares me.”
I was shocked.
This sister feared death less than she feared the return of the Savior.
I’m sure if we broke it down, she was more frightened by the last days preceding the return of the Savior than by His actual return. Still, this young woman was terrified. How do we manage that fear?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has seen that fear manifest in young people afraid of what their futures might look like. He encountered some who asked if they should bother getting married, having children, or hoping for a bright future. He answered this way.
“I have just two things to say to any of you who are troubled about the future. I say it lovingly and from my heart.
First, we must never, in any age or circumstance, let fear and the father of fear (Satan himself) divert us from our faith and faithful living. There have always been questions about the future. Every young person or every young couple in every era has had to walk by faith into what has always been some uncertainty—starting with Adam and Eve in those first tremulous steps out of the Garden of Eden. But that is all right. This is the plan. It will be okay. Just be faithful. God is in charge. He knows your name and He knows your need.”
Elder Holland provided additional action steps for preparing for the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5). “We should watch for the signs and read the meaning of the seasons, we should live as faithfully as we possibly can, and we should share the gospel with everyone so that blessings and protections will be available to all.”
The scriptures further promise that if we are prepared, we shall not fear (D&C 38:30). To be clear, I don’t think the promise of preparation is that we won’t face calamities. Rather, I think preparing with a desire to heed the counsel of the Lord fortifies our faith and prepares us for whatever may arise.
President Gordon B. Hinckley acknowledged that the last days before the Lord’s return will be fraught with dangers and challenges, and yet seemed unperturbed and unafraid when he said, “We know, of course, that the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust (see Matt. 5:45). But even though the just die they are not lost, but are saved through the Atonement of the Redeemer. Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord’ (Rom. 14:8).”
I think the peace comes, in spite of the realities of the days ahead, from our spiritual preparation—in knowing where we stand with the Lord. When King Noah threatened Abinadi’s life, Abinadi calmly responded, “But I finish my message; and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved” (Mosiah 13:9). It didn’t matter what happened to Abinadi after he did what God commanded him because Abinadi knew he was innocent before God (Mosiah 17:10).
We prepare spiritually, and we also prepare temporally in wisdom and prudence. President Ezra Taft Benson gave this information and warning for temporal preparation more than forty years ago.
“Plan to build up your food supply just as you would a savings account. Save a little for storage each pay-check. Can or bottle fruit and vegetables from your gardens and orchards. Learn how to preserve food through drying and possibly freezing. Make your storage a part of your budget. Store seeds and have sufficient tools on hand to do the job. If you are saving and planning for a second car or a TV set or some item which merely adds to your comfort or pleasure, you may need to change your priorities. We urge you to do this prayerfully and do it now.” [Emphasis in original.]
The Lord has not promised our temporal safety in the last days. We may face uncertain times and it is reasonable to feel some anxiety about that. But if we prepare physically and spiritually, we can trust, like Abinadi, that our days will be prolonged to accomplish all that is required of us. Whether Jesus Christ comes to us in our lifetime, or we come to Him at the end of it, each of us needs to spend our lives in preparation to meet Him again.
May we have the faith and perspective of Ether (15:34) to say, “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen.”
Disclaimer: While all of my answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, I do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t believe any of my answers are comprehensive. I’m just one person using the gospel I have been blessed with to bring hope, peace, and answers to other seekers of truth.