The Sermon on the Mount was concluded with a call to action: Respond to the Savior’s invitation and be like a wise man who built a house upon a rock. Fail to give heed to His counsel and be as the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
Prophets have long counseled their flocks on the importance of preparing for emergencies. Abraham gained personal experience when he traveled to Egypt in an attempt to escape famine. Only a few generations later, Joseph made his dramatic ascent up the Egyptian political ladder and instituted a large scale food storage program. Jesus warned of famines and pestilences and earthquakes. In our own day, latter-day prophets continue the clarion call. From Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson–modern Mormon prophets, prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ–a common theme can be heard: Lay up in store for potential famines.
Famines come in many forms, as evidenced by the current economic crisis. As anticipated by Mormons in some ways, and in our collective recent memory, we have witnessed dramatic declines in the stock market, surges in unemployment rates, and numerous bank failures reminiscent of the Great Depression. Despite the best efforts of the government, surveys show that Americans are left feeling increasingly fearful and uncertain. The Old Testament famines of wheat, corn, and other crops are paralleled by contemporary famines of accessible credit, secure employment, and burgeoning 401k’s.
Certainly in times like these, it is not difficult to see the prophetic and divine wisdom in preparing for emergencies. (And Mormons have been about this preparation for decades.) However, suppose that circumstances were different. If stocks were at all-time highs and unemployment at all-time lows, would we be so concerned with preparing for famines of the financial variety? Would the Lord Jesus Christ’s words have fuller impact?
Circumstance and counsel are often at odds with each other. In the days of Noah, the circumstances were sunny while the counsel was gloomy. The line at the reservation desk for Noah’s Ark was remarkably short. Might the situation have been different if Noah warned of future floods while storm clouds hovered consistently up above?
In our day, modern prophets have warned us of future dangers (Yes, Mormons believe that God continues to speak to His children today, and there are living apostles and a prophet on earth today). We, as members of the Savior’s Church–Mormons– have been counseled to obtain a year’s supply of food, to seek out educational opportunities, and to avoid unnecessary debt. The circumstance of today seems to vindicate the counsel of yesterday. And yet if we have not given heed to prophetic counsel before now, the question must be asked: Are we responding to circumstance—or counsel?
A diligent effort to prepare for future catastrophes is most effective when spurred on by prophetic counsel—not by portending circumstances. While stock markets are blown to and fro with most light breezes, the counsel of the prophets (“Mormon prophets”) remains steadfast amidst heavy rains, floods, and winds: “lay up in store.” The circumstance of the current economic crisis has awakened us all to a greater awareness of the need for financial security. Perhaps the Savior’s counsel from the Sermon on the Mount can encourage us to prepare for emergencies yet unknown—and thus build our houses upon a rock.
Mormons believe in saving up for emergencies: storing food and supplies for at least 3 months, and a year where possible; saving funds; having emergency supplies on hand (72-hour kits); and being temporally, spiritually, and financially solvent and self-reliant where possible. This is not a man-made doctrine; this guidance, as mentioned above, is divine, and comes from the Savior Jesus Christ, whose House or Church is actually The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). We invite you to learn more of His counsel regarding self-reliance and provident living, and to learn more of the teachings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
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