Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How the Gospel Comforts in Times of Tragedy

Post after post on Facebook have been tributes to the innocent children and adults killed in the shooting last Friday.  I already posted some thoughts on this and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change the hearts of the people, which in essence, will change the world.  In addition to that, this gospel brings us comfort in times of tragedy.

Many people question where God is when such tragedies occur.  Some of my favorite writings have always been those of President Spencer W. Kimball.  One such writing is called "Tragedy or Destiny" and discusses this very topic--how we can still know God is there when horrible tragedies occur.

Could the Lord have prevented [this] tragedy?  The answer is, Yes.  The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death, if he will.  But he will not...

...If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity.  But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective....

...In the face of apparent tragedy, we must put our trust in God, knowing that despite our limited view his purposes will not fail.  With all its troubles life offers us the tremendous privilege to grow in knowledge and wisdom, faith and work, preparing to return and share God's glory.[1]

The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us peace in the face of tragedy.  Also, consider these words, taken from "The Salvation of Little Children" by Bruce R. McConkie:

Are all little children saved automatically in the celestial kingdom?

To this question the answer is a thunderous yes, which echoes and re-echoes from one end of heaven to the other. Jesus taught it to his disciples. Mormon said it over and over again. Many of the prophets have spoken about it, and it is implicit in the whole plan of salvation. If it were not so the redemption would not be infinite in its application. And so, as we would expect, Joseph Smith’s Vision of the Celestial Kingdom contains this statement: “And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.” (D&C 137:10)

It is sometimes asked if this applies to children of all races, and of course the answer is that when the revelation says all children it means all children. There is no restriction as to race, kindred, or tongue. Little children are little children and they are all alive in Christ, and all are saved by him, through and because of the atonement.

Why do some children die and others live? Are those who die better off than those who remain in mortality?

We may rest assured that all things are controlled and governed by Him whose spirit children we are. He knows the end from the beginning, and he provides for each of us the testings and trials which he knows we need. President Joseph Fielding Smith once told me that we must assume that the Lord knows and arranges beforehand who shall be taken in infancy and who shall remain on earth to undergo whatever tests are needed in their cases. This accords with Joseph Smith’s statement: “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth.” (Teachings, pp. 196–97.) It is implicit in the whole scheme of things that those of us who have arrived at the years of accountability need the tests and trials to which we are subject and that our problem is to overcome the world and attain that spotless and pure state which little children already possess.[2]
I cried when I heard about the shooting.  I have both a five-year-old and a six-year-old right now.  I have two other older children who are school age as well.  But I never felt like I needed to rush to the school and pull them out or felt afraid to put them back in school on Monday.  I think I felt reassured by the Gospel's teachings regarding the Plan of Salvation.  They bring comfort during times of great sorrow.  I'm grateful to have the Gospel and the knowledge of life after death and the tiny speck in the line of eternity that mortality represents.  It truly is a Gospel of Peace.

[1] Tragedy or Destiny?  Spencer W. Kimball

[2]  The Salvation of Little Children, Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign April 1977.

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