After hearing the voice speak to them in the darkness, “there was silence in the land for the space of many hours.” (1) They’ve just survived one of the worst storms imaginable. So many cities have been destroyed. So many people have died. They’ve suffered under the weight of darkness for three days.
But now comes the stillness. The voice silences their weepings, their mournings, their howlings. Now, it’s silent. A time for them to ponder all that has happened and also all the words they’ve just heard from heaven.
After giving them time to reflect on the first speech from heaven, Christ speaks to them again, telling them how oft would He have gathered them as a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings to protect them, but they would not.
He says that phrase about how He would have gathered them three times. The fourth time, He changes just one word, and it brings so much hope.
O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft WILL I gather you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.”3 Nephi 10:6
Christ doesn’t want just a pittance from us. He wants our whole hearts. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Far from it. But if we give Him our hearts, He can make something of us. If we hold back anything, He cannot change us to become like Him. But if we trust Him, he can gather us under His protective arm, like a mother hen, and nourish us.
After hearing Him again, the people weep and howl once more, because of the loss of their dead. Three days pass and the darkness dissipates and the earth stops groaning and trembling, “and all the tumultuous noises did pass away.” (9) They have light once again.
And the earth did cleave together again, that it stood; and the mourning, and the weeping, and the wailing of the people who were spared alive did cease; and the mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer.”3 Nephi 10:10
This is what the light that comes from Jesus Christ can do for each of us. Our troubled souls can cleave together again. Our mourning and weeping can be turned into joyful praises. Gratitude fills our heart when we come to realize even just a little what our Savior Jesus Christ has done and made possible for us.
And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophesies of many of the holy prophets.”3 Nephi 10:14
So many prophets foretold this day, and were persecuted or martyred for speaking the truth, given them from God. Now, prophesy has been fulfilled
The 34th year passes away and the survivors “have great favors shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads, insomuch that soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them.” (18)
This is what we will study in our next post. What I take away from this specific chapter though is that Christ’s light is the only thing that can save us all. We all have unique challenges and trials we must face in this life. They won’t be fun and we’ll probably have our moments of mourning and weeping and even howling about how life is so unfair. There are times—maybe even years and years—where we will feel like we are in darkness and it is hard to hope.
I have never dealt with the debilitating effects of depression or other mental illnesses, but I have talked with people who have, and I have the greatest empathy for those of you who actually are in literal mental and spiritual darkness. I won’t pretend to know what you’re feeling. All I can say is hold onto the hope of Jesus Christ’s light—that someday (I pray in this life, but maybe it won’t be until the next one—but you can be assured it will happen) the light will break forth, as it did after this troubling time of darkness for the Nephites, and your weeping and howling will be turned into rejoicing. Favors will be shown to you by Christ. Great blessings will be poured upon your heads for enduring your personal hardships and carrying the cross you have been given in this life. Christ will fill you with comforting and healing light, and I dare say, when we receive His glory, we will look back and think our hardships we had to endure here on earth were very minimal in exchange for the reward we receive for choosing to be gathered unto Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.
Hold on. Be patient. Trust that the Light will come.