A while ago, I was studying the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament as I was preparing a lesson. In chapter 19 the Lord speaks about smiting Israel and destroying Egypt. In fact, for several chapters Isaiah speaks of Babylon falling, Jerusalem being attacked and scourged, the people being carried captive, Tyre being overthrown, and so on.
As I read, I couldn’t help but think, “What if this was all I knew of my God? What if I only knew God to be a condemning, demeaning, harsh, terrifying God? How could I have a relationship with, trust in, and love Him?”
My mind kept being drawn to certain chapters in 2 Nephi, which is in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Several verses in this chapter repeat a phrase which brings to light who God really is and can be for each of us. First: “…they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is STRETCHED OUT STILL!” (2 Nephi 19:12). Next: “…for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is STRETCHED OUT STILL” (2 Nephi 19:17). And third: “Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is STRETCHED OUT STILL!” (2 Nephi 20:4).
Even in God’s anger and disappointment with us, His children, His hand is STRETCHED OUT STILL! He does not pull away from us. We are the ones who choose to pull away and remove ourselves from His light and love. He loves us always, whether we feel we deserve His love or not. God is perfect. God’s love is, therefore, perfect for us!
Thomas S. Monson shared this beautiful reminder several years ago:
I invite each of us to remember His hand is open, waiting for us to reach out to Him NOW! Not when life is easier, less busy, less complicated or things are different, but NOW! Reach out to Him as you are today and watch Him change you into who you can become with Him. For with God, all things are possible!
In faith and love,
Photo: Rescuer, by Haley Miller