Imagine you know your enemy is on the move. You know they are coming toward your community. You know they will kill you and your family. What do you do?
Prepare for combat? Run and hide? Those really seem like the only options, don’t they? Either there will be an epic battle or you become hunted prey. What other choice could there be?
In the Book of Mormon, one of my favorite accounts tells of a people converted from blood thirsty warriors to gospel observing peace keepers. Their conversion did not sit well with their neighbors who wanted to keep the warfare culture. The neighbors came as armed bullies prepared to force their former friends to return to their old ways or be killed.
Here’s the scene: an army is marching toward the newly converted people. The people are aware of the army’s approach. What do they do?
As odd as it may seem to us, they did not prepare for battle. But they also didn’t flee. Instead, their king gathers his people together and delivers a sermon. His topic? Gratitude and thanksgiving. At the end of his talk, the people bury their weapons of war so that they won’t be tempted to use them and as a witness to God of their changed hearts. And then they wait.
When the army arrives they find an unarmed people praying. The warriors kill 1,005 of their neighbors before realizing this is not an act of war, it is a slaughter. This act changes the hearts of over 1,000 soldiers who drop their weapons and join their converted friends. (Alma 24)
I always wonder what I would do if I were in the mix. Would I have the courage to be thankful even in the midst of death? What about in my life? I am not facing certain death but life with tribulation and adversity. Do I have the courage to be grateful in the middle of the storm? It’s not always easy to remember to be grateful.
After the recent attacks in Paris (November 13, 2015), I revisited and old conference talk given by President Hinckly in 2001. It was only a month after 9/11. He spoke three times during the conference. He delivered his talk on Sunday morning and said a prayer during his concluding comments. But it was his opening remarks that caught my attention.
Imagine having just suffered a horrible attack by your enemy within the borders of your own country. Numerous lives were lost and all lives affected. What is it you want to hear from your beloved prophet at a time like that?
Remember, the nation was experiencing high anxiety and tension at this time. A lot of doubt and uncertainty regarding the future enveloped us. There was a lot we just didn’t know.
I could paraphrase it but then the message may get lost in the translation. It is better to read it for yourself. Read his greeting here.
Last week I studied all three of his talks considering it one talk divided into three parts. I can honestly say, I “thank thee, O God, for a prophet!” And I am thankful for such examples of gratitude.