Shelter from the Storm

My idea for the Parable of the Hailstorm was sparked by the lament of Jesus over Jerusalem as He contemplated the rulers’ rejection of Him and the city’s past and future destruction: “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).

Later, after His Crucifixion, He mourned over the people of the Western Hemisphere as they waited in darkness, and over all the house of Israel:

O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.

And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.

O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.

3 Nephi 19:4–6

The Lord had a long history with Israel’s descendants, and He had beckoned to them and called upon them time after time to come to Him instead of to the mute and powerless gods worshiped by the nations around them. As He wanted to gather them even when they hadn’t yet been scattered (that gathering is another parable for another day)—He must have wanted to gather them in a sense other than physically.

A hen gathers her chicks to herself because she is stronger than they, and she likely recognizes danger that they may not. She is willing to defend her chicks to the point of giving her life, which is what Christ did. So the parents in the parable represent Christ, beckoning to us to draw near Him so He can protect us during the storms that unavoidably arise in life.

The pavilions in the parable can represent a couple of things. One would be the Savior’s Church, restored in these latter days with prophets and apostles. Similar to the inn in Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan (see this talk by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Twelve Apostles), this pavilion is where we can find nourishment and shelter (Moroni 6:4).

The other symbol I see in the pavilions that dotted the park is the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with over 160 dotting our planet and almost 100 more announced or under construction. In 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “What was the object of gathering the … people of God in any age of the world? … The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 416). Further, he added that this was a meaning of Jesus’s comparison of gathering us like chickens.

Of course, when the thunderheads gather isn’t the only time we should be trying to seek shelter with Christ, but I suspect that none of us makes it through life without becoming troubled or frightened by things outside our control that seem much bigger than we are. Standing with Him who outlasts—and is more powerful than—all storms is the surest way to find peace.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on

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