Brothers and sisters, we welcome you to the Church Educational System devotional foryoung adults. This broadcast is originating from the Texas Hall at the University of TexasArlington and is being translated into 39 languages for young adults throughout the world.
I am Brycen Beck, elders quorum president in the Allen Texas Stake. We welcome ElderDavid A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and are grateful that Sister Bednarhas accompanied him this evening. Elder and Sister Bednar will be introduced later in theprogram as the evening's speakers.
We are grateful for the attendance of local Area Seventies, stake and ward young adultpriesthood leaders, and their wives. In addition, we are pleased to acknowledge thepresence on the stand of our CES and Seminaries and Institutes of Religion administratorand his wife.
We remind you that on Sunday, May 5, 2013, Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy will bethe CES devotional speaker.
We will begin this evening with the congregation singing "The Lord Is My Light," hymnnumber 89 in the English hymnbook. We appreciate the assistance of Margaret Navarre,who will conduct the music, and Michael Clement as our accompanist. After the hymn, RyanWhitmore will offer the invocation.
[MUSIC - THE LORD IS MY LIGHT]
The Lord is my light; then why should I fear? By day and by night his presence is near. He ismy salvation from sorrow and sin; this blessed assurance the Spirit doth bring.
The Lord is my light; he is my joy and my song. By day and by night he leads, he leads mealong.
The Lord is my light; tho clouds may arise, faith, stronger than sight, looks up through theskies where Jesus forever in glory doth reign. Then how can I ever in darkness remain?
The Lord is my light; he is my joy and my song. By day and by night he leads, he leads mealong.
The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength. I know in his might I'll conquer at length. Myweakness in mercy he covers with pow'r, and, walking by faith, I am blest ev'ry hour.
The Lord is my light; he is my joy and my song. By day and by night he leads, he leads mealong.
The Lord is my light, my all and in all. There is in his sight no darkness at all. He is myRedeemer, my Savior, and King. With Saints and with angels his praises I'll sing.
The Lord is my light; he is my joy and my song. By day and by night he leads, he leads mealong.
Our dear, kind, and gracious Heavenly Father, we are very grateful for the opportunity wehave this Sabbath day to listen to Elder and Sister Bednar speak to us. We are very gratefulfor the sacrament that we partake of in remembrance of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and HisAtonement.
We ask Thee at this time to please bless us with Thy Spirit, that we may listen carefully to thewords that are spoken to us, that we may remember them and go throughout our daily lives,living them. We love Thee so very much, Heavenly Father, and we are indeed very gratefulfor the many blessings that we have. And this we say in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ,amen.
This evening we are joined by a combined North Texas young adult choir, who will sing "TheTime Is Far Spent." They are directed by Brother Daniel Ritchie and accompanied by BrotherClement. After the musical number, we will be pleased to hear from Sister Bednar and thenafterward Elder Bednar.
At the conclusion of Elder Bednar's remarks, the choir and congregation will sing "How Firm a Foundation." The congregation will sing verses 1 through 3. The choir will then sing twoadditional verses. They will be directed by Brother Ritchie and accompanied by BrotherClement. The benediction will then be offered by Stacy Schumann.
It is now my privilege to introduce tonight's speaker. David A. Bednar was born on June 15,1952, in Oakland, California. He served as a full-time missionary in southern Germany andgraduated from Brigham Young University and Purdue University. Elder Bednar marriedSusan K. Robinson in the Salt Lake Temple, and they are the proud parents of three sons.
In his professional life, Elder Bednar was a professor of business management and thenserved as the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho. Elder Bednar was ordained andset apart as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints on October 7, 2004.
The choir will now sing "The Time Is Far Spent."
[MUSIC - THE TIME IS FAR SPENT]
The time is far spent; there is little remaining to publish glad tidings by sea and by land. Thenhasten, ye heralds; go forward proclaiming: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven's at hand,repent, for the kingdom of heaven's at hand.
Shrink not from your duty, however unpleasant, but follow the Savior, your pattern andfriend.
Our little afflictions, tho painful at present, ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end, erelong, with the righteous, in glory will end.
Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you; the weight of your calling he perfectly knows.
Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you; his arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose. Hisarm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.
What, tho, if the favor of Ahman possessing, this world's bitter hate you are called toendure? The angels are waiting to crown you with blessings! Go forward, be faithful, thepromise is sure. Go forward, be faithful, the promise is sure.
That was a great musical number. Thank you so very much.
I'm excited to be here with you and with my husband tonight. My husband and I have a softplace in our heart for the young adults of the Church. So wherever you are in the world, wewelcome you and are honored to be with you.
As I travel the world with my husband, I'm saddened to discover that many young peoplefeel alone and doubt the Lord knows them personally or that He loves them. I've prayedabout the principles I could emphasize tonight that would help you know the Lord doesknow you and love you. I pray for the Spirit to help me deliver this message.
I'm going to use words from a seminary song to organize my remarks: "We must have earsto hear the word of the Lord, and eyes to see His plan, feet to follow in His path, and heartsto understand."
First, we must have ears to hear the word of the Lord. We can hear the voice of the Lord aswe study the scriptures.
When I was your age, Spencer W. Kimball was the President of the Church. A quote from himhas guided me throughout my life. He said: "I find that when I get casual in my relationshipwith divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking,that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and thespirituality returns." I testify if we have ears to hear the word of the Lord, we will feel His loveas He speaks to us through the scriptures.
Second, we must have eyes to see His plan. One day I was thinking about a returnedmissionary I knew when, unexpectedly, I received an email from her. She told me how shefelt the Lord working miracles through her in the mission field, but since her return homeshe wondered sometimes if He was really aware of her. In my answer to her, I shared someimportant counsel Elder Eyring gave to BYU-Idaho students.
He said: "I bless you that every day, if you will ask in prayer to be shown where the hand ofGod intervened in your life that day, I bless you that you will see that. It will be mademanifest to you. That you will see that He is leading and guiding and lifting you, and that Heknows you." I then explained how I prayed daily for this blessing and had seen the hand ofGod reaching out to touch me through her thoughtful note. I reassured her that HeavenlyFather would do the same for her.
I testify, as we pray for eyes to see His plan, we will be aware of God's involvement in ourlives and know that He knows us.
Third, we must have feet to follow in His path. Many young adults become disillusioned,disheartened, and discouraged because events they thought would happen in their liveshave not yet occurred. Some mistakenly believe if God hasn't given them the happiness orblessings they were hoping for or thought they deserved, He doesn't care. To show theirdispleasure with God, some lose faith, dishonor covenants, put their trust in worldlypleasures, and turn from God to self. Instead of having feet to follow the path ofrighteousness, they deviate from the gospel plan, wander off, and become lost.
We all know someone who is off the path. We can feel God's love in our lives as we see thepositive reaction of many as we reach out to serve and to rescue.
The Lord's path is clearly marked by the teachings of prophets, seers, and revelators. Nextmonth is general conference. I testify, if we prayerfully seek to identify a personal questionor concern to take to conference, the Lord will answer us through the messages of Hisanointed servants. We'll feel His love and concern and have increased courage and steadyfeet to follow in His path, now and forever.
Fourth, we need hearts to understand the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Bednarhas taught: "It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us--that isfundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate thatthe Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us--not only to direct us but also to empower us."
To me, the Atonement of Jesus Christ provides individual comfort and powerful evidence ofGod's love for us. It strengthens us to do hard things--things we don't think we can do. Ithelps us hold on when we do not understand God's will and timing in our lives.
I testify God lives, and we will feel His love and know that He knows us as we dedicate ourhearts to understand more fully the blessings of the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. "Wemust have ears to hear the word of the Lord, and eyes to see His plan, feet to follow in Hispath, and hearts to understand." In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Brothers and sisters, I am grateful to participate in this devotional with young people of theChurch from all over the world. I love you and appreciate this opportunity to worshiptogether.
Susan has spoken and testified of important principles, and each of us will be blessed andstrengthened as we apply consistently her teachings in our daily lives. Susan is a righteouswoman, an elect lady, and the love of my life. And she's very cute.
I have pondered and earnestly petitioned our Heavenly Father to know how I might best beable to serve you tonight. I pray the power of the Holy Ghost will be with each of us--that wemay think what we need to think, feel what we need to feel, and learn what we need to learnso we can do what we know we should do and ultimately become what the Lord yearns forus to become.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell was a beloved disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. He served as amember of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 23 years, from 1981 to 2004. The spiritualpower of his teachings and his example of faithful discipleship blessed and continue to blessin marvelous ways the members of the Savior's restored Church and the people of theworld.
In October of 1997, Sister Bednar and I hosted Elder and Sister Maxwell at Brigham YoungUniversity-Idaho. Elder Maxwell was to speak to the students, staff, and faculty in adevotional assembly. Everyone on the campus eagerly anticipated his visit to the universityand earnestly prepared to receive his message.
Earlier in that same year, Elder Maxwell underwent 46 days and nights of debilitatingchemotherapy for leukemia. Shortly after completing his treatments and being releasedfrom the hospital, he spoke briefly in the April general conference of the Church. Hiscontinued rehabilitation and therapy progressed positively throughout the spring and thesummer months, but Elder Maxwell's physical strength and stamina were nonethelesslimited when he traveled to Rexburg.
After greeting Elder and Sister Maxwell at the airport, Susan and I drove them to our homefor rest and a light lunch before the devotional. During the course of our conversations thatday, I asked Elder Maxwell what lessons he had learned through his illness. I will rememberalways the precise and penetrating answer he gave.
"Dave," he said, "I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving." Hisresponse to my inquiry was a principle with which he had gained extensive personalexperience during his chemotherapy.
As Elder Maxwell and his wife were driving to the hospital in January of 1997, on the day hewas scheduled to begin the first round of treatment, they pulled into the parking lot andpaused for a private moment together. Elder Maxwell breathed a deep sigh and looked athis wife. He reached for her hand and said, "I just don't want to shrink."
In his October 1997 general conference message, entitled "Applying the Atoning Blood ofChrist," Elder Maxwell taught with great authenticity (quote): "As we confront our own ...trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we 'might not ... shrink'--meaning to retreat or to recoil. Not shrinking is much more important thansurviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of theemulation of Jesus." (Close quote.)
Elder Maxwell's answer to my question caused me to reflect on the teachings of Elder OrsonF. Whitney, who also served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Quote: "Nopain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, tothe development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we sufferand all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters,purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, moreworthy to be called the children of God ... and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil andtribulation, that we gain the education that we [came] here to acquire." (Close quote.)
And these scriptures concerning the Savior's suffering as He offered the infinite and eternalatoning sacrifice became even more poignant and meaningful to me:
"Therefore I command you to repent--repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, andby my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore--how sore you know not, howexquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they wouldrepent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering causedmyself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore,and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, andshrink--nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations untothe children of men."
The Savior did not shrink in Gethsemane or on Golgotha. Elder Maxwell also did not shrink.This mighty Apostle pressed forward steadfastly and was blessed with additional time inmortality to love, to serve, to teach, and to testify. Those concluding years of his life were anemphatic exclamation point to his example of devoted discipleship--through both his wordsand his deeds.
Now, I believe most of us likely would expect a man with the spiritual capacity, experience,and stature of Elder Maxwell to face serious illness and death with an understanding ofGod's plan of happiness, with assurance and grace, and with dignity. And he surely did. Butmy purpose today is to bear witness that such blessings are not reserved exclusively forGeneral Authorities or for a few select members of the Church.
Since my call to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve created by the death of ElderMaxwell, my assignments and travels have enabled me to become acquainted with faithful,courageous, and valiant Latter-day Saints all over the world. I want to tell you about oneyoung man and one young woman who have blessed my life and with whom I have learnedspiritually vital lessons about not shrinking and about allowing our individual will to be"swallowed up in the will of the Father."
This account is true, and the characters are real. I will not, however, use the actual names ofthe individuals who are involved. I refer to the young man as John and the young woman asHeather. I also use with permission selected statements from their personal journals.
John is a worthy priesthood holder and served faithfully as a full-time missionary. Afterreturning home from his mission, he dated and married a righteous and wonderful youngwoman, Heather. John was 23 and Heather was 20 on the day they were sealed together fortime and for all eternity in the house of the Lord. Now, please keep in mind the respectiveages of John and Heather as this story unfolds.
Approximately three weeks after their temple marriage, John was diagnosed with bonecancer. As cancer nodules were also discovered in his lungs, the prognosis was not good.John recorded in his journal:
"This was the scariest day of my life. Not only because I was told I had cancer, but alsobecause I was newly married and somehow felt that I had failed as a husband. I was theprovider and protector of our new family, and now--three weeks into that role--I felt like Ihad failed. I know that thought is absurd, but it is one of the crazy things I told myself in amoment of crisis."
Heather noted: "This was devastating news, and I remember how greatly it changed ourperspectives. I was in a hospital waiting room writing wedding thank-you notes as weanticipated the results of [John's] tests. But after learning about [John's] cancer, crock-potsand cookware did not seem so important anymore. This was the worst day of my life,
but I remember going to bed that night with gratitude for our temple sealing. Though thedoctors had given [John] only a 30% chance of survival, I knew that if we remained faithful Ihad a 100% chance to be with him forever."
Approximately one month later John began chemotherapy. He described his experience:
"The treatments caused me to be sicker than I had ever been in my life. I lost my hair,dropped 41 pounds, and my body felt like it was falling apart. The chemotherapy alsoaffected me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Life was a rollercoaster during the monthsof chemo with highs, lows, and everything in between. But through it all, [Heather] and Imaintained the faith that God would heal me. We just knew it."
Heather chronicled her thoughts and feelings:
"I could not stand to let [John] spend the night in the hospital alone, so I would sleep everynight on the small couch in his room. We had lots of friends and family visit during the day,but the nights were the hardest. I would stare at the ceiling and wonder what HeavenlyFather had planned for us. Sometimes my mind would wander into dark places, and my fearof losing [John] would almost overtake me. But I knew these thoughts were not fromHeavenly Father. My prayers for comfort became more frequent, and the Lord gave me thestrength to keep going."
Three months later John underwent a surgical procedure to remove a large tumor in his leg.
John stated: "The surgery was a huge deal for us because pathology tests were to be run onthe tumor to see how much of it was viable and how much of the cancer was dead. Thisanalysis would give us the first indication of the effectiveness of the chemotherapy and ofhow aggressive we would need to be with future treatments."
Two days following the operation, I visited John and Heather in the hospital. We talked aboutthe first time I met John in the mission field, about their marriage, about the cancer, andabout the eternally important lessons we learn through the trials of mortality.
As we concluded our time together, John asked if I would give him a priesthood blessing. Iresponded that I would gladly give such a blessing, but I first needed to ask some questions.I then posed questions I had not planned to ask and had never previously considered:
"[John], do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that youare transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do youhave the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?"
My brothers and sisters, I frankly was surprised by the questions I felt prompted to ask thisparticular couple. Frequently in the scriptures, the Savior or His servants exercised thespiritual gift of healing and perceived that an individual had the faith to be healed. But asJohn and Heather and I counseled together and wrestled with these questions, weincreasingly understood that if God's will were for this good young man to be healed, thatblessing could only be received if this valiant couple first had the faith not to be healed.
In other words, John and Heather needed to overcome, through the Atonement of the LordJesus Christ, the "natural man" tendency in all of us to demand impatiently and insistincessantly on the blessings we want and believe we deserve.
We recognized a principle that applies to every devoted disciple: strong faith in the Savior issubmissively accepting of His will and timing in our lives--even if the outcome is not what wehoped for or wanted.
Certainly, John and Heather would desire, yearn, and plead for healing with all of their might,mind, and strength. But more importantly, they would be "willing to submit to all thingswhich the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [them], even as a child doth submit to his father."Indeed, they would be willing to "offer their whole souls as an offering unto him" andhumbly pray, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will,but thine, be done."
What initially seemed to John, Heather, and me to be perplexing questions became part of apervasive pattern of gospel paradoxes. Consider the admonition of the Savior: "He thatfindeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." He alsodeclared, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." And the Lordcounseled His latter-day disciples, "By thy word many high ones shall be brought low, and bythy word many low ones shall be exalted." Thus, having the faith to not be healed seemed tofit appropriately into a powerful pattern of penetrating paradoxes that require us to ask, toseek, and to knock that we might receive knowledge and understanding.
After taking the necessary time to ponder my inquiries and to talk with his wife, John said tome: "Elder Bednar, I do not want to die. I do not want to leave [Heather]. But if the will of theLord is to transfer me to the spirit world, then I guess I am good with that." My heart swelledwith appreciation and admiration as I witnessed this young couple confront the mostdemanding of all spiritual struggles--the submissive surrender of their wills to God's will. Myfaith was strengthened as I witnessed this couple allowing their strong and understandabledesires for healing to be "swallowed up in the will of the Father."
John described his reaction to our conversation and the blessing he received: "Elder Bednarshared with us the thought from Elder Maxwell that it is better to not shrink than to survive.Elder Bednar then asked us, 'I know you have the faith to be healed, but do you have thefaith not to be healed?'
This was a foreign concept to me. Essentially he was asking if I had the faith to accept God'swill if His will were that I not be healed? If the time were approaching for me to enter thespirit world through death, was I prepared to submit and accept?"
John continued: "Having the faith not to be healed seemed counterintuitive; but thatperspective changed the way my wife and I thought and allowed us to put our trust fully inthe Father's plan for us. We learned we needed to gain the faith that the Lord is in chargewhatever the outcome may be, and He will guide us from where we are to where we need tobe. As we prayed, our petitions changed from 'Please make me whole' to 'Please give me thefaith to accept whatever outcome Thou hast planned for me.'
I was sure that since Elder Bednar was an Apostle, he would bless the elements of my bodyto realign, and I would jump out of the bed and start to dance or do something dramatic likethat! But as he blessed me that day, I was amazed that the words he spoke were almostidentical to those of my father, my father-in-law, and my mission president. I realized thatultimately it does not matter whose hands are on my head. God's power does not change,and His will is made known to us individually and through His authorized servants."
Heather wrote: "This day was filled with mixed emotions for me. I was convinced that ElderBednar would place his hands on [John's] head and completely heal him of the cancer. Iknew that through the power of the priesthood he could be healed, and I wanted so bad forthat to happen.
After he taught us about the faith to not be healed, I was terrified. Up to that point, I hadnever had to come to grips with the fact that the Lord's plan might include losing my newhusband. My faith was dependent upon the outcomes I wanted.
In a manner of speaking, it was one-dimensional. Though terrifying at first, the thought ofhaving the faith not to be healed ultimately freed me from worry. It allowed me to havecomplete trust that my Heavenly Father knew me better than I knew myself, and He woulddo what was best for me and John."
A blessing was given, and weeks, months, and years passed by. John's cancer miraculouslywent into remission. He was able to complete his university studies and obtained gainfulemployment. John and Heather continued to strengthen their relationship and to enjoy lifetogether.
Some time later I subsequently received a letter from John and Heather informing me thatthe cancer had returned. Chemotherapy was resumed and surgery scheduled.
John explained: "Not only did this news come as a disappointment to [Heather] and me, butwe were puzzled by it. Was there something we did not learn the first time? Did the Lordexpect something more from us?
Growing up as Latter-day Saints, it was common to go to church and hear the phrase, 'Everytrial God gives us is for our benefit.' Well, to be honest, I could not see how this wasbenefiting me! So I began to pray for clarity and for the Lord to help me understand why thisrecurrence of the cancer was happening.
One day as I was reading in the New Testament I received my answer. I read the account ofChrist and His Apostles on the sea when a tempest arose. Fearing the boat would capsize,the disciples went to the Savior and asked, 'Master, carest thou not that we perish?'
This is exactly how I felt. Carest thou not that I have cancer? Carest thou not that we want tostart our family?
But as I read on in the story, I found my answer. The Lord looked at them and said, 'O ye oflittle faith,' and He stretched forth His hand and calmed the waters. In that moment I had toask myself, 'Do I really believe this? Do I really believe He calmed the waters that day, or is itjust a nice story to read about?'
The answer is: I do believe, and because I know He calmed the waters, I instantly knew Hecould heal me. Up until this point, I had a hard time reconciling the need for my faith inChrist with the inevitability of His will. I saw them as two separate things, and sometimes Ifelt that one contradicted the other. 'Why should I have faith if His will ultimately is what willprevail?' I asked.
After this experience, I knew that having faith--at least in my circumstance--was notnecessarily knowing that He would heal me, but that He could heal me. I had to believe thatHe could, and then whether it happened was up to Him. As I allowed those two ideas tocoexist in my life, focused faith in Jesus Christ and complete submission to His will, I foundgreater comfort and peace.
It has been so remarkable to see the Lord's hand in our lives. Things have fallen into place,miracles have happened, and we continually are humbled to see God's plan for us unfold."
Brothers and sisters, I repeat for emphasis John's statement: "As I allowed those two ideas tocoexist in my life, focused faith in Jesus Christ and complete submission to His will, I foundgreater comfort and peace."
Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in moving mountains--if movingmountains accomplishes God's purposes and is in accordance with His will. Righteousnessand faith certainly are instrumental in healing the sick, deaf, or lame--if such healingaccomplishes God's purposes and is in accordance with His will. Thus, even with strong faith,many mountains will not be moved. And not all of the sick and infirmed will be healed.
If all opposition were curtailed, if all maladies were removed, then the primary purposes ofthe Father's plan would be frustrated. Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality canonly be received through the things we experience and sometimes suffer. And God expectsand trusts us to face temporary mortal adversity with His help so we can learn what we needto learn and ultimately become what we are to become in eternity.
This story about John and Heather is both ordinary and extraordinary. This young couple isrepresentative of millions of faithful, covenant-keeping Latter-day Saints all over the worldwho are pressing forward along the strait and narrow path with steadfast faith in Christ anda perfect brightness of hope. John and Heather were not serving in highly visible leadershippositions in the Church, they were not related to General Authorities, and sometimes theyhad doubts and fears. In many of these aspects, their story is quite ordinary.
But, brothers and sisters, this young man and young woman were blessed in extraordinaryways to learn essential lessons for eternity through affliction and hardship. I have sharedthis episode with you because John and Heather, who are just like so many of you, came tounderstand that not shrinking is more important than surviving.
Thus, their experience was not primarily about living and dying; rather, it was about learning,living, and becoming. The potent spiritual combination of faith in and on the holy name ofJesus Christ, of meekly submitting to His will and timing, of pressing forward "with unwearieddiligence," and of acknowledging His hand in all things yields the peaceable things of thekingdom of God that bring joy and eternal life.
As this couple faced seemingly overwhelming challenges, they lived a "peaceable life in allgodliness and honesty." They walked peaceably with and among the children of men. "Andthe peace of God, which passeth all understanding, [kept their] hearts and minds throughChrist Jesus."
For many of you, their story is, has been, or could be your story. You are facing, have faced,or will yet face equivalent challenges in your lives with the same courage and spiritualperspective that John and Heather did. I do not know why some people learn the lessons ofeternity through trial and suffering--while others learn similar lessons through rescue andhealing. I do not know all of the reasons, all of the purposes, and I do not know everythingabout the Lord's timing.
With Nephi, you and I can say that we "do not know the meaning of all things." But somethings I absolutely do know. I know we are spirit sons and daughters of a loving HeavenlyFather. I know the Eternal Father is the author of the plan of happiness. I know Jesus Christ isour Savior and Redeemer.
I know Jesus enabled the Father's plan through His infinite and eternal Atonement. I knowthat the Lord, who was "bruised, broken, [and] torn for us," can succor and strengthen "hispeople according to their infirmities." And I know one of the greatest blessings of mortality isto not shrink and to allow our individual will to be "swallowed up in the will of the Father."
Though I do not know everything about how and when and where and why these blessingsoccur, I do know and I witness they are real. I testify that all of these things are true--and thatwe, you and I, know enough by the power of the Holy Ghost to bear sure witness of theirdivinity, reality, and efficacy.
My beloved brothers and sisters, I invoke upon you this blessing: even that as you pressforward in your lives with steadfast faith in Christ, you will be blessed with the capacity tonot shrink. I bear this witness and I invoke this blessing in the sacred name of the Lord JesusChrist, amen.
[MUSIC - HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION]
How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word! Whatmore can he say than to you he hath said, who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior, whounto the Savior for refuge have fled?
In ev'ry condition--in sickness, in health, in poverty's vale or abounding in wealth, at home orabroad, on the land or the sea--as thy days may demand, as thy days may demand, as thydays may demand, so thy succor shall be.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I'llstrengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous, upheld by myrighteous, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.