Reviewed by Catherine K. Arveseth
At first glance, I assumed this book to be a short collection of talks or previous publications – like a “best of” or “greatest hits album” on hope and peace. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the book filled with original writings from less prestigious writers, created for a select purpose – to help readers find hope in a troubled world. Peace, Be Still is a compilation of writings from several LDS presenters, teachers and writers – Wayne E. Brickey, Terry B. Ball, Richard D. Draper, Todd B. Parker and Richard O. Cowan. Some of those names may be new to you as they were to me. Yet, their joint effort has made them memorable, allowing readers to examine our time through the eyes of the scriptures and God himself. The book is not a fluffy assortment of comfortable “feel-good” stories. It is a short but compact melding of rock-solid doctrine on the last days, as revealed through the scriptures and modern prophets. Commentary is taken from the books of Revelation, Isaiah, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon. Not a casual, sit by the pool kind of read, this book is for students of the word, worth cross-referencing, underlining, and pondering. Its writers share serious, thought-provoking details on the true prophecies of latter-day living.
Several weeks ago, a fellow missionary of mine was killed with several others in a tragic car accident. The severe loss of life left many who knew and cared about these individuals wondering, why now? Why did God choose not to intervene? How will the bereaved families cope and continue on? Tragedy, death and adversity are conditions of our mortal probation, yet they are not easy to endure. The answers offered in Peace, Be Still softened my discontent and provided the blessing of hope for better things. I appreciated Parker’s insights on finding hope in adversity:
Happiness and joy are not gifts that arrive in a package or that are enjoyed in a vacuum. They may only be experienced in concert with opposites. We must experience pain to appreciate well-being, difficulties to develop courage, and death to understand eternal life. Muscles need opposition to gain strength. Faith must confront doubt to grow. (67)
Wayne E. Brickey has written the introduction to the book, appropriately setting the stage for the authors that follow him. His writing is full of good, original thought. He suggests that astute readers will notice two wonderful things. First, the positive side of latter-day events – “mighty and magnificent things will accompany the storms” of the last days:
…the storms themselves will soften the hearts and open the minds of our Father’s children. Once these storms have filled their mission, his voice will overrule them as it finally does all storms.
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39).
Over the thirteen-mile surface of crashing waves and howling wind, the words of Jesus caused an immediate and perfect calm. So it will be with the latter-day tempests and unrest…There need be no storms within. (17)
That final phrase is powerful. In our house it would be considered “refrigerator worthy” – reminding us that we can be calm within while storms rage without. Secondly, Brickey mentions that the authors have much more to offer than their own keen insights and solid testimonies:
They bring to our attention the sublime words of the Prince of Peace, words that penetrate, reassure and heal. Amid commotion, we, like the billowing waters, may be still. It is the greatest of latter-day ironies. By frequently coming under the influence of His warm and whispering voice, we may know that there is a great calm available. That calm may fill our own minds and anoint our own lives. We may receive it day by day, even in such a time as this. (18)
The strength of this work is in its combined message. There is power in many voices witnessing the same thing. When understood, truth can dispel our fears, make us aware of the temptations of the adversary, open our minds to the teachings of the Savior and remind us of the lasting peace Christ extends to the righteous who believe in Him.
Some of the chapters, at times, were a bit slow and difficult to plod through, but the book does do what it purports. It offers messages of hope as discerned through scripture and modern prophets. Peace, Be Still is a short but dense read that would make a thoughtful gift for someone in need of comfort and encouragement. I was glad to become acquainted with these writers who have confidently shared the Lord’s message of peace in troubled times. Although our challenges differ from the Galilean tempests of the Savior’s day, His metaphorical message remains unchanged. We can have peace. We can be still.