Relief Society Lesson 21: The Second Coming
Okay, I struggled with finding the right focus in this lesson. The quotes are pretty intense! I have sat through many “second coming” lessons through the years, and I have never left inspired. As a kid, the descriptions of the last days scared me. As an adult, I’m sometimes troubled by “sign-seeking” – especially interpreting world events through a hybrid political/religious lens. “____________________ (that hurricane, this legislation, that candidate, this war) is clearly a sign that the end is near.” Discussion can quickly become a chance to bemoan the evils of the world — to which the optimist in me always wants to say “But there’s never been a better time in history to be a woman!” And then in this time of economic turmoil . . . So what to do with this lesson, assuming that the women in your class come for both instruction and for a spiritual boost? I might very well begin by asking some questions: When you come to a class about the second coming, what do you hope to hear? What do you want to learn? What role does this doctrine have in your spiritual life? What have you learned about it through the years that has brought you particular insight?
Lesson Quote 1:
“ ‘But [of] the time and the season, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you, for ye yourselves perfectly know that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night: for when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman, but they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness. … Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober, for they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us who be of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ [1 Thessalonians 5:1–4, 6–9.] Wherefore, comfort one another, even as ye also do, for perilous times are at hand.”
- What insight does this give us about the nature of trials in our lives? (My thoughts – life can quickly turn from ‘safe’ to ‘dangerous.’ I’m sure every woman in the room has an example of such a shift in life that comes “like a thief in the night.”)
- What does this mean “Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” (My thoughts: I’m struck by the number of scriptures that use the word “awake” – see Isaiah 51 for one great example; Judges 5:12 for another). What does it mean to be spiritually “awake?”
- What about this quote: “Wherefore comfort one another . . . . for perilous times are at hand”? What kind of comfort can the Relief Society provide in “perilous times”? Practically? Spiritually? Emotionally?
“Let us be wise in all things, and keep all the commandments of God, that our salvation may be sure. Having our armor ready and prepared against the time appointed and having on the whole armor of righteousness, we may be able to stand in that trying day [see Ephesians 6:13].”
- Let’s talk about “wisdom.” Many of the signs of the second coming include times of war, natural disasters, and financial hardship. The world has had plenty of all three in the last 150 years! How can we be wise *in advance* of such difficulties? (Could be a good opportunity to mention about 72 hour kits and employment/financial planning resources available through the church).
- For me, the metaphor of “armor of righteousness” never resonated. Perhaps it seemed too masculine? What would be an equivalent metaphor to talk about spiritual strength? What is spiritual “strength?”
This lesson describes preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus, even in the midst of trials and pain. But we also believe that we can be in the presence of Jesus in this world, in the present. We can seek for his spirit even in the midst of our present trials. If we haven’t felt close to Jesus recently, how can welcome his grace into our lives – as a personal “second coming?” The following quote from Sister Chieko Okazaki speaks to spiritual strength, preparation, and wisdom as we face a difficult world with hope in Christ:
All of us face different family circumstances and home situations. All of us need strength in dealing with them. This strength comes from faith in the Savior’s love and in the power of his atonement. If we trustingly put our hand in the Savior’s, we can claim the promise of the sacramental prayer to always have his Spirit with us. All problems are manageable with that strength, and all other problems are secondary in urgency to maintaining a strong spiritual life. If we have faith, we will desire to pray often and sincerely, and his Spirit will teach us what to pray for (see Rom. 8:26–27). We will have the sensitivity to serve compassionately. We will have the wisdom that we need for our Church callings. We can build a loving and respectful partnership with our husbands, children, parents, and friends. If we always have Christ’s Spirit with us, we will have a wise consultant when we are perplexed by our children’s needs. We will receive help in making correct decisions and strength in carrying them out. We will give and receive loyal friendship, and feel in ourselves when the advice we receive from others is truly suited to our needs. We will hold a clear vision of gospel ideals and aspire toward them even as we deal patiently with the limitations of reality. Through faith in the Savior, we can magnify our opportunities, cope with our problems, and keep both of them in perspective.