6 Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, every man’s heart shall melt;
8 And they shall be afraid; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
(2 Nephi 23:6-8, Isaiah 13:6-8)
Faith in God can help us avoid being paralyzed by the challenging experiences we face.
In the passage above, the prophet Isaiah predicts the panic which would overwhelm the people of Babylon more than 150 years later when their powerful empire was invaded in 539 BCE.
The painting above, which is in the National Gallery in London, depicts the terror of the king of Babylon, who was holding a celebration when a heavenly hand wrote the following words in Hebrew on the wall: “MENE” (מְנֵ֥א), “MENE” (מְנֵ֥א), “TEKEL” (תְּקֵ֥ל), “UPHARSIN” (וּפַרְסִֽין). The prophet Daniel, who was in captivity in Babylon, interpreted the message for the Babylonian king:
- “MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.”
- “TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”
- “PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28).
That night, King Belshazzar was killed, and his kingdom was conquered by the Persian Empire.
Isaiah’s description of these events depicts the fear experienced by people who base their confidence on worldly things, such as wealth, prestige, and organizational structures, and who fail to place their faith in God. Their feasts and celebrations may persist for a while, but eventually their foundation will crumble. Their hands will “be faint,” their hearts will “melt,” and their faces will be “as flames.”
In contrast, those whose faith in God is strong will be able to withstand difficult challenges without a loss of confidence. President Russell M. Nelson has shared a personal experience which illustrates this principle:
On a recent flight, our pilot announced that we would encounter turbulence during our descent and that all passengers must fasten their seat belts securely. Sure enough, turbulence came. It was really rough. Across the aisle and a couple of rows behind me, a terrified woman panicked. With each frightening drop and jarring bump, she screamed loudly. Her husband tried to comfort her but to no avail. Her hysterical shouts persisted until we passed through that zone of turbulence to a safe landing. During her period of anxiety, I felt sorry for her. Because faith is the antidote for fear, I silently wished that I could have strengthened her faith….
One of the realities of mortal life is that our faith will be tested and challenged. Sometimes those tests come as we face what appear to be life-and-death encounters. For this frightened woman, a violently rocking plane presented one of those moments when we come face-to-face with the strength of our faith (“Let Your Faith Show,” General Conference, April 2014).
Today, I will strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ. I will remember that faith in God can help me avoid the panic which might otherwise overcome me when I face difficult experiences.