Investing for the Future in Troubled Times

Jeremiah bought land.

If you’re wondering about the significance of that transaction, consider the following:

  • Prophets since Moses had foretold the captivity of the children of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem.
  • Jeremiah had told the people clearly that this event was no longer in the distant future. It was going to happen to them personally.
  • He had been persecuted for making those assertions and had even served time in prison.
  • The Babylonian Captivity had already begun. Many people had been carried captive to Jerusalem, and the king of Judah, Zedekiah, had been appointed by the Babylonians.

After all of that, and about nine years after Lehi and his family fled from Jerusalem to build a new home on the American continent, Jeremiah bought land for himself and for his descendants:

And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.

So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.

And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.

Jeremiah 32:6-9

Jeremiah made a big deal about this purchase, ensuring that it was properly documented, that there were many witnesses to the transaction, and that the title was carefully preserved in an earthen vessel. What might his friends and neighbors have thought of such an action? It must have seemed terribly confusing and contradictory. The very man who had told them their country was about to collapse was now engaging in a long-term financial investment? Where was the logic in that?

But God commanded Jeremiah to buy this land for a reason. He wanted to draw attention to a second, hopeful prophecy which might have been hidden behind the terror of the first one. Here is the way Jeremiah explained the transaction to the people who witnessed it:

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

Jeremiah 32:15

Jerusalem would be destroyed and the people would live in captivity for many years, but there was more to come. The inhabitants of the kingdom of Judah would one day return home from captivity, and their country would be restored. Jeremiah was ahead of his contemporaries both in terms of acknowledging the painful experiences they were about to pass through and in recognizing that there were better days ahead:

For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.

And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast…

Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them…for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 32:42-44

At about the same time, Lehi and his family were settling in their new promised land on the American continent. Lehi’s son, Nephi, had seen in a vision that his descendants would be destroyed (1 Nephi 12:19-23, 1 Nephi 15:5). Yet in spite of this knowledge, he expended significant time and effort engraving a record of his life on metal plates “for the instruction of [his] people,” and he commanded them to preserve the plates and hand them down from one generation to another (1 Nephi 19:1-6).

About 1,000 years later, a descendant of Nephi named Mormon compiled a history of his people, even though he could see Nephi’s prophecies being fulfilled before his eyes. (See Mormon 2:17-18.) His son, Moroni, completed the project, even though he was the only Nephite remaining alive. (See Mormon 6:6, Mormon 8:1-4, Moroni 1:1-3.) Why was he willing to invest that time and energy in such an apparently useless project? “That perhaps [my words] may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord” (Moroni 1:4).

Like Jeremiah, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni were willing to make steady long-term investments during tumultuous times. They didn’t allow catastrophic events to fill them with despair. They recognized that their efforts were not wasted.

A few years ago, a daughter of Elder Ronald A. Rasband asked him and his wife a sobering question: “Is it still safe and wise to bring children into this seemingly wicked and frightening world we live in?” He answered that it’s not only okay, but it’s the right thing to do. “Yes, we live in perilous times, but as we stay on the covenant path, we need not fear. I bless you that as you do so, you will not be troubled by the times in which we live or the troubles that come your way” (“Be Not Troubled,” General Conference, October 2018).

Today I will invest for the future. I will not allow worries to dampen my confidence. I will trust in the durability of my work, even if desired outcomes aren’t realized for a long time. I will trust in God’s promises of better times to come, even if they are preceded by difficult ones.

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