The time is far spent; there is little remaining
To publish glad tidings by sea and by land.
As this hymn begins by pointing out that it is our responsibility to spread the Gospel throughout the Earth within a very short window of time, it kind of sounds like a large weight being put on our shoulders. To make things even more uncomfortable, we are told to proclaim to the world that everyone needs to repent. This can be difficult as most people don’t really appreciate being told they have done something wrong, let alone that they need to repent of it. However, this hymn is not meant to be discouraging. “The time is far spent,” but it’s not over. Snow is not trying to discourage us by saying that time has been wasted, but to motivate us to use what time is left, to the best of our abilities, to build up the kingdom of God. And she knows that it won’t be easy.
The second verse of the hymn goes on to say that our Savior knows that fulfilling our duties will be unpleasant, even painful, but that He has set an example for us to follow. Snow acknowledges that life is hard. We will face trials. We will hurt. We will want to give up. Nothing can change that, because one of the most beautiful parts of our Heavenly Father’s plan is that we experience pain and sadness in order to truly know happiness. I believe that Snow empathizes with many Saints who have felt overcome and wanted to give in to the temptation to stop trying. Unable to change those circumstances, she gives them a reminder: I know it hurts now, but it won’t last long. Just keep doing what you know is right, and you will be rewarded in heaven.
The third verse asks a very common question: What if people don’t like me? At some point, we’ve all been given an opportunity to stand up for our beliefs when others are doing or saying something that we know isn’t right. It can be hard not to let those opportunities pass right by, because we don’t want someone to dislike us because our belief is not popular. These days, it’s pretty scary to bring up certain essential parts of our doctrine, even among people who share our religion, for fear of being told we are closed-minded, bigoted, or oppressive. To those who struggle with these fears, Snow reminds that God is on our side and His angels are waiting to bless us. I like to think that it’s not a calm, boring, doctor’s-office-waiting-room kind of waiting, but a bated breath, pins and needles, can-barely-hold-themselves-together kind of waiting. In my mind, that’s how much they want us to be happy. They can hardly wait to ease the pain of being hated by mortals by showering us with blessings from heaven.
The last verse explains, in no uncertain terms, that Satan knows what we’re doing. He knows how important it is. And he will try to keep us from doing it. He will send demons to oppose us, to try us, and to tempt us. Sometimes it may seem like doing good only makes our life harder. In fact, when big trials seem to come crashing into my life all at once, I tend to say that I must be doing something right. As Snow wrote, Satan may have demons on his side, but we have the Savior on ours. The closer we are to Him, the harder Satan will have to work to try to pull us away. However, “His arm is sufficient” if we can just hold on.