In Commotion, Peace…
Commotion is defined as “a state of confused or noisy disturbance.” That surely describes our lifetimes, perhaps more than any other era in which men ever lived. Sometimes commotion has been so great that it has caused fear and dread from the very young to the very old. Early in childhood I watched on the nightly news coverage of civil rights movement unrest, death-tolls of the Vietnam War, and the blood chilling fear that claimed the world over nuclear proliferation. I grew up and have lived my entire life in a world in commotion. In all of this, how could I possibly know peace?
The earliest dream that I remember was a recurring one in young childhood until I was grown. In the dream I am a small child. I am innocently walking in diminished light in my pajamas, barefoot, and on concrete. My focus is on a child’s toy, a rubber ducky colorful and bright. I eagerly walk toward it. I walk closer, never really nearing the toy, and then my perspective changes to where I am viewing the scene from slightly above and drawing back, like a drone camera angle widening. The toy and I are getting smaller and as my view widens to its fullness, I can see all around me, giant weapons of war, missiles, parallel to the concrete, in a vast and cavernous warehouse. I have never discussed this dream with a therapist, but I am pretty sure it could be said that the fear and commotion of the world were manifested in my perspective and peace, as in the dreams of the night.
Like so many, my own life has been threatened. I have been the victim of crime, abuse, and dishonesty. I have been betrayed by one I would call Brother. I have suffered the premature loss of loved ones. My heart has struggled while I have watched those I love suffer. I have felt fear and under threat. Nevertheless, I have not suffered as so many others. I visited Dachau, Germany, but I was not there in the horror of it all. I stood at ground zero where the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, but I spoke to a man who saw the flash of light that took friends and loved ones. I have walked in Gethsemane and through the dungeon below the palace of Caiaphas, but I have not known the suffering of our Lord. These are things that provoke fear and trembling, like unto Biblical prophecies of things to come, but in the rest of our Savior I can feel comfort and peace.
It is hard to imagine that peace can be found when thinking of Biblical foretellings, coming days of destruction and tribulation, when men’s hearts will fail, “iniquity shall abound,” and “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12), yet we are counseled, “be not troubled” (Matthew 24:6). There will indeed be peace in that coming day if we take hold of that thing which is permanent and will not pass away, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are counseled, “If we are spiritually aware, commotion can teach us to put our trust in something truly permanent” (Come, Follow Me, 2023). Jesus taught, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37).
While it is true that the day and the hour of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ his only known to Father in Heaven, through the gospel we are given signs and spiritual understandings that will not only help us to recognize the hour of His coming, but through the gift of the Holy Ghost we may know things that will only be whispered to us by that still small voice.
As the Emma Lou Thayne (1924–2014) hymn asks, “Where can I turn for peace?” The answer? “He, only One.”
The Savior’s calming words, “be not troubled,” are not an invitation to be lackadaisical in our efforts to build the kingdom of God, or procrastinate in our preparations for His coming. These words are sent to the faithful who are studying the words of God, listening to and following the prophets, observing to fast, pray and pay tithes, gathering scattered Israel through the research of genealogical records and attending the temple, sharing the gospel with his neighbor, and ministering to God’s children in whatever opportunities present themselves.
“Be not troubled” is a consoling and encouraging phrase to true disciples of Jesus Christ that have set their hand to the plow and are striving forward, doing their very best, and when falling short or failing, putting their hand again to the plow in repentance and dedication to the building of God’s kingdom. God’s Spirit will be with such, and they will recognize His coming and know Him.
I have since childhood been a fan of post-apocalyptic and dystopian films and storytelling. End of the world movies like Charlton Heston’s “Planet of the Apes” and Rod Taylor’s “The Time Machine” have long captured my imagination and provided entertainment that excites my senses. I know that apes are not going to become the dominant species, zombies will not one day walk the earth, and nuclear fallout will never result in humans going underground and transforming into Eloi eating Morlocks. Post-apocalyptic, as is created for entertainment, is not the way things will go. While there will be cataclysmic events, terrible wars and hardship, the days to come will not lead to a dystopian nightmare. The Lord Jesus Christ will come in that day, and the world will once again be in a state of glorious rest and peace, as in the days of Eden. There will be no hate nor fear, no threat of war nor violence. Love will prevail, and men’s hearts will beat in harmonic brotherhood, never failing.
Commotion may rage in all our days, but peace will prevail, as we place our faith and comfort in the permanence of our Lord and His word. So, let us study the word of God, listen to the words of living prophets, fulfill and magnify our callings and ministry, keep the commandments and our covenants, honor the Sabbath and pay our tithes and offerings, minister, share, redeem in the House of the Lord, repent and strive always putting our faith in Jesus Christ and in His infinite atonement. For then we may by all means, “be not troubled.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.