If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear(D&C 38:30)
We may have heard it so often that we use it, repeat it, and reference it without thinking – or really understanding. Reflection suggests that each word holds a sermon.
As a professional in the field of emergency management for the past 30 years, working specifically as a disaster preparedness educator, I remember about 20 years ago we started saying, "It's not a matter of if, but when you will be impacted by disaster." About 8 years ago, we modified this to, "It's not a matter of if, but when and how." Will it be a monumental flood in an area that never floods, an ice storm in the deep south, a tornado that occurs out of season, or an earthquake in the middle of the country away from all know fault lines? The increasing frequency and severity of disasters put us all at risk.
Prepare vs. Aware. These two words mean very different things to an emergency manager. Aware suggests knowledge of. Prepare implies action – actually doing what you know. I had a professor at BYU who loved to say, "Let's assume the scriptures mean what they say." I believe there is an entire lesson in the Lord's choice of the word Prepare rather then Aware. In this instance, the Lord could be saying, If ye take action...
I love the meanings of the smallest words in scripture. The Lord says Shall not Might. Shall is what will be. Might is what may be. The promise of preparing is sure.
There are many opposites to the word fear. In this context, I believe the opposite suggested here is faith. Joseph Smith taught that faith is a principle of action, the natural result of doing those things the Lords directs and approves. (See Lectures on Faith)
Whenever I teach Gospel Doctrine or Relief Society, I like to situate scriptures in their context. Context provides rich detail and meaning. The context for D&C 38 is no exception. In D&C 37, the Saints have been told they need to leave New York in the middle of the winter of 1830 and travel about 300 cold, dreary miles to The Ohio. They want to understand why. D&C 38 provides that answer.
The Lord reminds them, "I looked upon the wise expanse of eternity...before the world was made. ...All things are present before mine eyes. ...[By Me] the world was made, and all things came by me." D&C 38:1-3
He tells them why they need to leave right now, in the middle of winter. And then He reassures them with this promise, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." D&C 38:30
The Lord knows the workings of this earth. It's crustal plates. It's weather patterns. It's cycles. The Lord knows disaster. The when. The where. The how. The how bad. And for us, He counsels, when you take preparedness action, you and your loved ones will have the peace of mind, the supplies, the safety, and the response confidence that all are a natural result of those actions.