Three Days of Darkness

After the natural disasters which coincided with the death of Jesus Christ, some inhabitants of the American continent experienced “thick darkness upon all the face of the land” for three days:

And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

3 Nephi 8:21-22

Mormon tells us that this “vapor of darkness” was so thick that the people could feel it (3 Nephi 8:20). This experience may have brought to their minds the “mist of darkness” in Lehi’s dream. (See 1 Nephi 8:23-24). Perhaps it also reminded them of an event further back in their history: the ninth plague.

After Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go eight times, and before the devastating loss of the firstborn in each family, the Lord sent a plague which stopped them in their tracks:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Exodus 10:21-23

Like the other plagues, this darkness served as a sign of God’s power. But it had a characteristic which differentiated it from the prior plagues: it gave the Egyptians time to think.

We recently experienced a power outage in the evening. We were able to light candles, but we were not able to participate in some of our planned activities. Our evening became simpler and quieter, with fewer distractions. Power was restored overnight, and the next day we were back to normal.

President Russell M. Nelson observed that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our lives were involuntarily simplified. He encouraged us to avoid filling our lives with noise and commotion, and to intentionally create peaceful space in our schedules:

Discipline yourself to have time alone and with your loved ones. Open your heart to God in prayer. Take time to immerse yourself in the scriptures and worship in the temple.

What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” General Conference, April 2021

Today I will make room in my schedule to be quiet and peaceful. I will set aside the noisiness, declutter my life a little, and give myself space to reconnect with myself, with my family, and with the Lord.

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