23 Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?
Mormon had the misfortune to lead a group of people who were unwilling to acknowledge their dependence on God. When they experienced success on the battlefield, they would “boast in their own strength” because “they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them” (Mormon 3:3, 9). When catastrophic failure struck, instead of humbling themselves and turning to God, “they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless,” Mormon tells us, “they would struggle with the sword for their lives” (Mormon 2:14). They were delusional—unable or unwilling to recognize their own frailties and limitations.
In the passage above, borrowing a metaphor from Isaiah 34:4, Mormon urges his readers to remember the immense power of God. We are in His hands. The very ground we walk on is like a scroll which God can roll as He sees fit.
A scroll is a very long piece of parchment or paper wrapped around a stick. When in use, it is wrapped around two sticks, with a single page visible to the reader. To read the next page, the reader spins both sticks, rolling the current page out of view and exposing a new page.
Catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, financial crises, and terror attacks temporarily remind us of our vulnerability. But most of the time, most of us operate as though we had far more control over our circumstances than we actually do. We take for granted the relative stability in our lives, and as a result, we take too much credit for our successes, and we look for someone to blame when we fail. Because the scroll of our lives remains open to a single page for so long, we forget that most of our circumstances are temporary and that the page will eventually turn.
But what if we were able to overcome that natural human tendency? What if, even in periods of relative stability, we were able to humble ourselves, to thank God for favorable circumstances, and to plead for His help in unfavorable ones, consistently recognizing our dependence on Him? Would we not then be more prepared for moments of crisis and less likely to be overwhelmed by them? Would we not be more realistic in the way we navigate even the stable periods of our lives? Would we not spend less time and energy worrying about circumstances beyond our control and therefore use our time and other resources more productively?
Today, I will remember the metaphor of the scroll. I will acknowledge that my circumstances are in God’s hands. I will recognize my dependence on Him and will trust Him to guide me through both the stable periods of my life and through the periods of crisis.