I Will Shake the Heavens – 2 Nephi 23:13-14

13 Therefore, I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up; and they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.
(2 Nephi 23:13-14, Isaiah 13:13-14)

Isaiah chapter 13 paints a terrifying picture. Babylon, the prosperous and powerful empire, will eventually be crushed. People will be in a state of shock: “all hands be faint, every man’s heart shall melt” (2 Nephi 23:7). It will feel like all sources of stability in their lives have been broken: “I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place.” Why was this necessary, and how does it relate to our lives?

Neal A. Maxwell used the phrase “redemptive turbulence” to describe the trauma the wicked will experience in the last days. What is the purpose of this turbulence? To wake them up and cause them to see things as they really are, so that they can avoid the awful consequences of the path they are blithely following (“Sharing Insights from My Life,” BYU Speeches, 12 January 1999). Notice that the turbulence in the passage above has the effect of turning people’s minds and hearts toward family and home: “They shall turn every man to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.”

In all of our lives, there is adversity, and at times it is traumatic. But as Howard W. Hunter taught, “even in the most severe of times, anciently or modern, those problems and prophecies were never intended to do anything but bless the righteous and help those who are less righteous move toward repentance” (“Hope: An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” BYU Speeches, 7 Feb 1993).

Today, I will remember that the adversity I experience is intended to help me progress. As uncomfortable or unnerving as some experiences may be, particularly when I feel like my world is shaking and the ground is moving under my feet, I will remember that Heavenly Father’s goal is to guide me in the path toward eternal life and to help me remember the things that matter most. I will be hopeful through difficult experiences, knowing that the adversity I experience can and will qualify as “redemptive turbulence” if I place my trust in God.

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