Revelation that prepared the Church for the global COVID-19 pandemic and guided leaders through this unique time in history, will also be significant going forward, said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“You can see the Lord’s hand in guiding us,” he said. “And the guidance isn’t just for the pandemic — it flows even more significant.”
Reflecting on past months defined by the global pandemic in a Church News interview, Elder Cook detailed “interlocking patterns of revelation” — including the creation and implementation of new initiatives and directives in recent years — that are important now and foundational for the future. He expressed gratitude for President Russell M. Nelson and the revelatory guidance he has received.
In difficult times, Latter-day Saint leaders focus on sacred doctrine and ordinances that guide the administration of the Lord’s Church, explained Elder Cook, the chairman of the Church’s Priesthood and Family Executive Council.
Priesthood authority and keys, covenants and ordinances, and prophetic direction all work together to help Latter-day Saints come unto Jesus and faithfully obey His commandments.
Travel restrictions during the past year have also enabled the full First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve to meet together weekly — a rarity before the pandemic.
The result is “directive revelation” that has flowed with the “blessings of heaven.”
Church News podcast: Elder Cook on how revelation prepared the Church for COVID-19, will be significant going forward
“This time is foundational and will allow the Church to grow in the future and touch more lives and do more of the work of salvation than ever before,” Elder Cook said. “We will look back on this as a foundational time of preparation.”
For example, for years Church leaders have worried how general leaders could reach more people. Now with technology, leaders can connect with local leaders as never before, he said.
Revelation — both for the Church and for individuals — most often comes when the intent is to “bless someone else,” said Elder Cook. Revelation has flowed freely during this time when, across the globe, COVID-19 has caused illness and death, stifled economies, closed schools, prompted government mandates and curtailed daily routines.
Elder Cook reflected on a time as a young bishop living in California’s Bay Area when — with very little time before having to catch a plane to New York City — he received a call from a young couple.
Knowing the couple was “heartbroken,” Elder Cook pleaded with the Lord for guidance to know what the issue was and how he should counsel them. The Lord showed him the way and the couple received direction from a loving Heavenly Father. “I found that we will get the guidance we need from the Lord when we need it and that the Holy Ghost blesses us in very special ways. That has occurred in abundance in these last few years.”
Through inspired leaders, the Lord prepared His Church both temporally and spiritually for changing and challenging times, said Elder Cook.
New initiatives and directives that provide the “interlocking pattern of strength” include: improving Sabbath day observance, introducing gospel teachings that emulate the Savior, making changes to Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, shifting from home and visiting teaching to ministering, expanding responsibilities of elders quorums and Relief Societies, instituting an integrated curriculum, and developing the Children and Youth program.
The “decisive, humble, capable” leadership of President Nelson has been so important during this time, said Elder Cook. “When the Lord, either directly or through the Holy Ghost,” gives him guidance and direction, he’s going to follow it and he lives close to the Spirit. And so when things come up to the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, this humility that he has just permeates.”
Everyone wants to do the will of the Lord and seek revelation before taking action, he said. The result is these interlocking patterns that really have blessed the Church, families and individuals during the pandemic, he said.
“What a great servant of the Lord. What a joy it is to work with him,” said Elder Cook, testifying that President Nelson has been and is guided and directed by the Lord and directs the Church through revelation.
The day will come when everyone can look back and see blessings from this unique and challenging time, Elder Cook said. Acknowledging the loss of lives and the impact on the economy, he said he mourns with those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. And, he added, he also looks forward. “I think we will learn things and we have learned things that will greatly bless us in the future.”