God is subtle. For example, He often places powerful principles of family life right at the heart of scripture stories—but we rarely discern the profound truths. It is even rarer to apply those truths in our lives. (For examples of scriptural principles for our family lives, see Discoveries: Essential Truths for Relationships.)
Another example: In a remarkable scripture story, God provides a dramatic illustration of a heavenly way of dealing with contention. Yet I have never heard anyone talk about how we can apply the principle to our modern challenges. Consider:
And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. (Moses 7:13)
Enoch spoke the word of the Lord and the earth trembled, the mountains moved, the rivers turned, and the lions roared. Intriguingly, Enoch did not use this power to conquer another people but to thwart them—to block them from fulfilling their malicious intent.
Today’s world is filled with violence. Fighting, shooting, blaming, and quarreling are the marks of our time. The human tendency is to respond in kind. We fight fire with fire.
But God and his servants encourage us to use peaceful means to solve our differences. President Nelson counseled us, “now is the time to bury your weapons of war. Charity propels us ‘to bear one another’s burdens’ rather than heap burdens upon each other” (April 2023, Peacemakers Needed).
For example, we all know married partners who are battling each other. As a couple of insightful marriage scholars have observed, “By the time a couple’s style of argument has escalated into shaming and blaming each other, the very purpose of their quarrels has shifted. It is no longer an effort to solve a problem or even to get the other person to modify his or her behavior; it’s just to wound, to insult, to score. (Tavris & Aronson, Mistakes Were Made, p. 171) Sometimes we observe the destruction in pained helplessness.
We may pray for those who are caught up in a civil war. We pray that they may renew their love, honor their covenants, and find a joyous way forward. But maybe there is something more we can do based on Enoch’s example. Maybe we can pray that evil is thwarted. Maybe we should pray that Satan is silenced, hatred is stopped, and malice is obstructed.
Another example: On the political scene, we see hatred, resentment, judgment, and nastiness. It is not inspiring. We ourselves can attempt to be more appreciative of differing points of view. We can focus more on what we have in common, rather than our disagreements. We can seek to understand why a person prefers a certain candidate. And, in addition, maybe the Lord would have us pray that the father of lies be stifled.
On the international scene, we are witnessing terrible contention, division, hatred, and war. I was moved by Proclaim Peace by Patrick Mason and David Pulsipher. It is clear that God is not pleased with contention.
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:29-30)
We are observing and struggling with so many incidences of violence in our country and the world. What is to be done? As we grapple with that question, are we turning to spiritual power? Or are we so focused on debating human-made solutions that we are leaving God out of the equation? Are we following the example of Enoch in turning to God with the faith that He alone has the wisdom and power to turn the course of events?
I don’t know how this works. I am not Enoch. But I suspect that God is pleased when we attempt peaceful means. Maybe Jesus is inviting us to use faith to be peacemakers.
In my effort to follow Enoch’s example, I pray that evil will be thwarted. I also pray that I may be more understanding and compassionate. I pray that kindness and goodness may flourish. I pray that God will send greater peace to our world.
I hope you will join me in praying for peace AND praying that evil and malice may be thwarted.
You can get a copy of Discoveries from Deseret Book, Amazon, and many LDS booksellers. The book provides about sixty examples of combining research with the gospel to help you strengthen your relationships and increase your personal happiness.https://deseretbook.com/p/discoveries-essential-truths-for-relationships-for-relationships?variant_id=194982-paperback: There is More than One Way to Fight Evil
Thanks to Barbara Keil for her excellent editorial suggestions.