A few weeks ago, a colleague at work asked me, “What good could possibly come from the COVID-19 pandemic?” I can’t remember what I said which prompted this question, but I remember not having an immediate answer.
In subsequent weeks, a number of answers have come to mind. One of them, which I’ve been pondering today, is this: Adversity can serve as a wake-up call, reminding us of what is really important and motivating us to do better.
Five years after the death of King Mosiah, while the Nephites were still getting used to the responsibilities of self-government, they faced a significant disruption. A group of dissenters, led by a man named Amlici, attempted to overthrow the government and establish Amlici as the king. After losing one battle, they joined forces with the Nephites’ enemies, the Lamanites, and marched toward their capital city, Zarahemla.
The subsequent battle was brutal, and there were many casualties on both sides. After the Nephites won, they returned home to survey the damage. Besides the numerous soldiers who had died, “many women and children had been slain with the sword, and also many of their flocks and their herds; and also many of their fields of grain were destroyed, for they were trodden down by the hosts of men” (Alma 3:2).
Mormon reported that the deaths numbered in the tens of thousands (Alma 3:26). But then, he described the impact this calamity had on many of the Nephites:
But the people were afflicted,
yea, greatly afflicted for the loss of their brethren,
and also for the loss of their flocks and herds,
and also for the loss of their fields of grain,
which were trodden under foot
and destroyed by the Lamanites.
And so great were their afflictions
that every soul had cause to mourn;
and they believed that it was the judgments of God
sent upon them
because of their wickedness and their abominations;
therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty.
(Alma 4:3, italics added)
Maybe there are easier ways to remember our duty, but afflictions can certainly remind us of what is most important and motivate us to be more responsible. In this case, the Nephite church members redoubled their efforts to establish the church. Mormon tells us that, in the following year, about 3,500 people were baptized. The river Sidon, which had been the setting for so much loss of life, now became the setting for numerous spiritual rebirths (Alma 2:34-35, Alma 4:4-5).
Today, I will remember my duty. I will allow the adversity I experience to motivate me to fulfill my responsibilities more energetically and more precisely.