"The Lord's Plan for Peace"
Elder Ben B. Banks
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
CES Fireside for Young Adults
4 November 2001
My young brothers and
sisters, I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak with you. I
am thrilled and humbled to know that you are watching from around the
world. We live in times of incredible technological advances. I stand
here in Provo, Utah, and through modern communication satellites you can
listen to and watch my every comment. I had better do a good job tonight
and communicate effectively!
As I mention communication,
I am reminded of a story about a hiker who ate a condor, a protected species
of wild bird. It seems that the hiker was apprehended and taken before
a judge, who sentenced him to life at hard labor. Before leaving the courtroom,
however, the defendant asked the judge to listen to his side of the story
because he felt there were extenuating circumstances. The hiker explained
that he had been lost in the wilderness and had been hiking for three
days and three nights without food or water and just by chance had spotted
this condor sitting on a rock, had thrown a rock at it, killed it, and
ate it, and then walked for three more days and three more nights before
getting to civilization. The hiker said, "If I hadn't eaten that
bird, I wouldn't be alive today." The judge responded by saying that
those certainly were unusual circumstances, and in view of the fact that
the hiker's life had been in danger, he, the judge, would suspend the
sentence. The defendant thanked him and began to leave the courtroom,
but as he did, the judge asked, "Oh, by the way, what did the condor
taste like?" The hiker paused for a moment and then responded, "Well,
it was kind of between a bald eagle and a spotted owl."
I might say I hope that
this evening I am able to communicate better than the hiker did.
Challenges to Our Personal Peace
You see, I do have a very important and serious
message that I want to communicate to you. I have learned that some young
people are vulnerable when life's situations do not conform to their desires.
Before I address how we can make ourselves less vulnerable, let's look
together at some of the challenges faced by Latter-day Saint young people.
I do this to illustrate that what you may consider challenging today may
turn out to be a mere bump in the road compared with the mountains you
may have to climb later in life.
One young person recently described her main challenge
in life this way: "If I don't look perfect, there's not much chance
to date and marry." Another said, "It's hard to avoid loneliness
when things are always changing. My friends are getting married, moving
away, and going on missions."
When it came to maintaining spirituality, one young
person said: "I want to stay as spiritual as when I was a missionary
but live a normal life too. It's disheartening when I can't keep the same
level of spirituality."
Another expressed this thought: "Dating is
a challenge. I feel like my biggest weaknesses are moral temptations."
When considering what to do and who he is, one young
person described it this way: "My biggest challenge is figuring out
what and how I should spend the rest of my life."
Finally, another added: "I'm trying to decide
what to do for a career, where to study, and when to get married."
I'm sure many have perhaps faced questions and challenges
similar to these at some time in their youth. What I would like you to
understand is that there is a plan that can help you face these challenges
and even greater ones. That plan will help you to have peace in your life.
As my wife, Sue, and I have traveled throughout
the world on assignment for the Church, we have come to know and love
the great global Latter-day Saint family that this Church has become.
We have laughed and cried with the Saints as we have watched their lives
and, on occasion, witnessed their acts of courage.
During our time in the Philippines we saw firsthand the adversity people were confronted with by the Mount Pinatubo volcanic
eruption. We felt the earthquakes; we saw the floods and typhoons; we
watched as homes were destroyed and families uprooted. We even witnessed
the death that came to many. Yet during these times of great difficulty,
we also witnessed Latter-day Saint families who, in spite of their personal
hardships, were at peace, optimistic for the future, and full of faith.
Recently I received a letter from Jeremy Chatelain.
I first met Jeremy some years ago in the Philippines as he served a full-time
mission for the Church. Following his honorable release, he married and
about three years ago was appointed to a teaching post in the Church Educational
System. Jeremy and his wife, Connie, looked forward to their new life
together and his working full-time with seminary students in Idaho. Just
before he started his new career, Jeremy, Connie, and their families went
swimming at a favorite location. Everyone was enjoying a wonderful time
swimming and having fun together. When Jeremy dived into the water for
the last time that day, little did he realize it would change his life
on earth forever.
He writes: "It's hard for me to believe that
it has been a little more than three years since my accident. . . .
We have been greatly blessed in our lives. I left the hospital in October
of 1998 and returned to Ogden to acclimate to life as a quadriplegic outside
of the hospital. . . . We have now been living in
a home in Blackfoot, Idaho, for nearly three years. The Lord must surely
see the future and can mercifully guide us accordingly. We found the house
before the accident and curiously noted, among other things, that many
of the doors were extra wide, thus wheelchair friendly. We have had to
make very few changes to accommodate my needs, which has spared our finances
for other necessities and wants."
He continues: "Another tremendous blessing
in our lives is the Church Educational System. When many other employers
would have counted my disabilities too great to continue employment, CES
has maintained a very warm, caring, and accommodating relationship with
us. . . . We have been included in all of the functions
as if my accident had not happened. Our seminary building has been set
up so that with near complete independence I can access my office and
the classroom well enough to volunteer teach one period daily each trimester."
Despite the many challenges he faces as a quadriplegic,
Jeremy writes about his future plans this way: "I am currently pursuing
my Master of Education and hope to complete it within another year or
so. My next goal is then to try to come back and teach full-time."
I am pleased to report that Jeremy, his wife, and
students are watching this broadcast in Blackfoot, Idaho, tonight.
Speaking of Connie, his bride of just a few years,
he says: "My wife has been unfailingly supportive in all I've done
and has made great personal sacrifices to maintain our marriage. We even
returned to the Philippines, wheelchair and all, last fall at the conclusion
of my brother's mission in Baguio. It brought me great joy to introduce
my wife to the Filipinos for whom I have tremendous love."
He concluded his letter by telling me of yet another
challenge they faced: "Nearly a year ago, Connie was involved in
a serious car accident on the Malad pass. Her car lost traction on a snowy
overpass and rolled down into the median. It crushed the car and broke
seven of her ribs, as well as a number of bones in her back. I nearly
lost her that day. She spent about a week in the hospital and a few more
months before the pain somewhat subsided. She is doing well now and is
working as a medical assistant at a clinic here in town."
When many others would have wallowed in self-pity
and doubt, Jeremy described his setbacks this way: "Life yet continues
to provide us with learning experiences. We have been truly blessed."
I share part of that humbling letter with you to
illustrate that regardless of the challenges, the Lord can bring peace
into the lives of those who are distressed.
In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith,
the Lord said:
"For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that
keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful
in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
"Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for
the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which
shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
"For after much tribulation come the blessings.
Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the
hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand" (D&C
Later, to the pioneers embarking on the trek west,
the Lord declared: "My people must be tried in all things, that they
may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory
of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom"
Further, President Spencer W. Kimball once taught:
"Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental
anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we
were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding
our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people
as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery" (Faith
Precedes the Miracle , 98).
You recall that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be
the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it" (History
of the Church, 5:134).
As we walk the path the Prophet speaks of, sometimes
we are accompanied by trial, adversity, disappointments, heartache, and
discouragement. As Latter-day Saints, we are taught that we came to earth
to experience life in mortality. It is part of the plan for our eternal
progress. As we deal with our challenges, temptations, pain, and sorrows,
we learn to appreciate goodness, virtue, and happiness.
Problems, challenges, and heartaches come to allyoung
and old, male and female, married or single. Sometimes when that pain
comes, it can be almost unbearable, and it is then that we find ourselves
in need of help.
Peace in Times of Trouble
Recent events have illustrated once again the reason
we need a source of comfort and hope in our lives.
Speaking at general conference a month ago, President
Hinckley said: "Now we are at war. Great forces have been mobilized
and will continue to be. Political alliances are being forged. We do not
know how long this conflict will last. We do not know what it will cost
in lives and treasure. We do not know the manner in which it will be carried
out. It could impact the work of the Church in various ways."
He added: "We are people of peace. We are followers
of the Christ who was and is the Prince of Peace. But there are times
when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization,
just as Moroni rallied his people in his day to the defense of their wives,
their children, and the cause of liberty" ("The
Times in Which We Live," Ensign, Nov. 2001, 72).
After John Clifford in Cork, Ireland, heard the
terrible news of the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, his
first thoughts were of his brother, Ronnie, who worked in the World Trade
Center. John frantically tried to discover news of his brother and whether
or not he had survived the disaster. Just hours after finding out that
his brother had indeed survived, John then learned that his sister, Ruth,
and her four-year-old daughter, Juliana, had been on board one of the
aircraft that crashed into the Trade Center towers. Another brother, Mark,
said, "No words could describe what we feel about this" ("Corkman
Tells of Brother's Escape," Irish Times on the Web, 13
Regardless of whether it be an individual, family,
or nation that is suffering, what message of comfort can we as Latter-day
Saints offer those who mourn? How do we answer people who ask, "How
will I ever get over this?"
Do we now or have we ever faced trials in our lives
that can cause us to doubt the love our Heavenly Father has for His children?
How do we deal with tragedy or adversity in our own lives? What is the
solution to the ills that torment mankind?
The Savior Himself provided an answer to this question
when He met with His Apostles on the night before His Crucifixion. He
said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the
world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither
let it be afraid" (John
Here the Lord notes a distinction between His peace
and man's peace. Man's peace is usually identified as the absence of war.
The Lord's peace cannot be disturbed even in the midst of war. You will
remember the peace the Savior enjoyed. Even during His trial before Pilate,
with the shouting multitude on one side and the doubting governor on the
other, He was at peace. The Savior introduced this peace and showed us
how to live with it.
Through our own personal experiences, we can discover
that the great source for peace in this world comes from one source, our
Savior, even Jesus Christ. Of that I bear testimony. Never forget it.
No matter how great the trial, no matter how much the suffering, the Master
can always bring the needed peace. His gospel stands as a beacon of light
in a world darkened by the influence of evil. Millions of people today
are looking for answers. They thirst for peace, they want comfort in their
lives, and they seek to know if they are safe. Those that mourn ask, "Will
I see my loved one beyond the grave?"
In my own life there have been times when I have
had to exercise great faith in my Heavenly Father and wait for peace and
reassurance to come to me.
While serving in the Philippines in 1996, my wife
and I received a phone call advising us that our daughter-in-law Tamara
had been taken to the hospital in very serious condition. It was not known
if she would survive. This happened just as we were preparing to come
for general conference. Upon learning of her illness, we returned a few
We learned that one evening Tamara felt like she
was coming down with the flu. The next morning she didn't feel any better,
so our son suggested she stay in bed and he would get the children off
to school and would check back with her later.
Fortunately, later that morning our daughter, Nanette,
went to Tamara and Ben's home to borrow their van. When she arrived she
asked their five-year-old son if his mother was there. He said she was
in bed but that she would not talk to him. Nanette called the paramedics,
who came to the home and rushed her to the hospital.
The doctor said, "We don't know what she has,
but if it is what we think it is we need to treat it now or she won't
be alive tomorrow." The diagnosis was correct. Tamara had a serious
brain infection, a type of meningitis. The disease spread very quickly.
She was put on a ventilator and our sons administered to her. She developed
a fever, had gall bladder problems, and her lungs collapsed. She was given
medication to keep the blood around the vital organs so they would not
Consequently, her fingers and her toes went black
and amputation became a possibility. They were able to save her fingers,
one half of one foot, and two-thirds of the other. The doctor said, "I
have no idea why your wife is still alive. I am a scientist and, by all
the books, she should be dead. All I can say is that it wasn't her time."
Tamara was in a coma for six weeks, in special care
for two weeks, and in a rehabilitation hospital for three weeks, after
which she had to go through years of rehabilitation. Following conference,
my wife remained in Salt Lake to help with our family.
While touring the Micronesia Guam Mission on the
island of Majuro, I received a message that my wife needed to talk to
me as soon as possible. My first thought was that something had happened
to Tamara. When I called my wife, she reported that Tamara was holding
her own but that our son, Brad, was in the hospital undergoing surgery.
Brad was in the process of taking down a large garage
door at work. He had pushed down the old door with a forklift and knew
he had to make sure that the old springs that operated the door were unwound.
I now quote Brad:
"Upon inspecting the springs, I could see that
they were still fully loaded. I proceeded to the springs and hit them
both with the sledge hammer and the springs appeared to unwind. All appeared
safe now to dismantle the door.
"With gloved hands, I reached down to pull
the torsion bar assembly away from the rubble heap. The instant I pulled
on the torsion bar I must have released some unseen pressure as the rod
twisted around, grabbing my glove, and pulled my hand and arm into the
springs. The next thing I knew, I was twisted around the torsion bar three
times up to my elbow, with my glove partially pulled off my hand. There
was a trickle of blood dripping from my glove.
"I couldn't see what was damaged, as I was
having a hard time keeping my balance as the pressure from the springs
was twisting me off my feet in an attempt to wrap me further around the
torsion bar. I was grateful my teenage son, Josh, was there. He got some
additional help and they were able to release enough pressure so I could
start to untangle myself and get out of the grasp of the twisting torsion
"As I freed my blood-soaked glove, it fell
to the ground and I then noticed my hand was missing the thumb, which
had been torn off. I told Josh to get some clean towels to wrap my hand
in. As I attempted to retrieve my thumb from inside the glove I got the
bleeding stopped and held my thumb in the palm of my hand and asked Josh
to drive me to the hospital.
"Shortly after we arrived, I found myself in
the operating room. Four surgeons and five hours later, they had reattached
my thumb to my hand.
"Following the surgery, I received a blessing
from my father-in-law and brother-in-law. The next day each of the doctors
looked at my hand and they appeared surprised the surgery appeared to
be so successful. By the end of the week they all put their doubts aside
and said it looked like a keeper and told me I could finally go home.
How appreciative I am for the blessing I received, for the words of healing
and restoration in my behalf, and even more for a loving Father in Heaven,
who knows what is best for me."
My mission tour continued. A few days later, while
on the island of Palau, I received another phone call from my wife. Tamara
was still holding her own. Brad's hand was okay. What is it this time?
She then advised me that she had been diagnosed by the doctor as having
cancer on her nose and that it was deep enough they felt she should have
a plastic surgeon perform the surgery, which would take place in the next
couple of days.
Fortunately, the surgery was successful, and today
she is just as beautiful as ever.
As I now reflect on that time of family crisis,
I recall the peace and hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ brought into
my life and the quiet calm that came to me through the Holy Ghost. We
had received promises in His holy house that our family could be eternal,
and that knowledge brought me great peace and comfort. I did not know
at that time how it was going to turn out, but I did know that whatever
happened, my family and I were loved by our Savior.
Book of Mormon prophets remind us that the Savior
is our hope for future justice and peace.
The great prophet Abinadi fearlessly testified that
we "shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged
of him" (Mosiah
16:10). We know from Mosiah that "the judgments of God are always
29:12). We also know that He "gave the law" (3
Nephi taught that the Lord is loving: "He loveth
the world, even that he layeth down his own life" (2
Nephi 26:24). Nephi's father, Lehi, taught that Christ is "the
great Mediator of all men" (2
We are also reminded that He is our Savior: "There
is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ . .
. whereby man can be saved" (2
In 1839 the Prophet Joseph Smith and five colleagues
were confined illegally in filthy conditions in Liberty Jail during four
long, cold winter months. In March, news came to them that the Saints
were being driven out of Missouri. After considering the many wrongs and
atrocities Church members had endured, Joseph pled with the Lord:
"O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion
that covereth thy hiding place?
"How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine
eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy
people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?"
The Lord responded to the Prophet:
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity
and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
"And then, if thou endure it well, God shall
exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes" (D&C
During the times leading up to the wrongful arrest
and imprisonment of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Saints had endured much.
They had been driven from their homes at least five times in less than
ten years. They saw some members abused or murdered; they had endured
terrible sufferings, and all because of their religious beliefs.
Yet, despite this, the Lord told the Prophet:
"If fierce winds become thine enemy; if the
heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the
way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth
wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee
experience, and shall be for thy good.
"The Son of Man hath descended below them all.
Art thou greater than he?" (D&C
As I think of the words of the hymn "There
Is a Green Hill Far Away," I think this verse is particularly appropriate:
Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do.
[Hymns (1985), no. 194]
Generally speaking, the persecutions faced by the
early Saints are no longer with us. Yet, we all have trials and tribulations
to face in our lives. It is vital, therefore, that we be well prepared
and filled with a spiritual reservoir that we can carry with us and that
will be available to help us.
Elements of a Spiritual Parachute
As a pilot during World War II, President Boyd K.
Packer was taught by his instructors to always wear his parachute when
flying. At that time parachute packs were large and uncomfortable to wear.
The rule was frequently seen by most pilots as a nuisance. Yet, as President
Packer learned of colleagues escaping from their damaged or burning aircraft
only to be saved by their parachutes, he realized what wise counsel he
had been given.
We are all in need of a spiritual parachute in this
world todayone that we can carry with us at all times, one that
will protect us when we face personal trial and adversity, and one that
will bring us peace when all about us are confounded.
Our spiritual parachute has many elements that make
up a wonderful protective canopy we can use in times of great difficulty.
Today I will mention seven of those elements:
1. Follow the prophets. We know that
we live in challenging and difficult times with the world in commotion.
We are in constant need of spiritual direction from trusted sources. Several
times a year we sustain 15 Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.
We listen to them at general conference and read their words in Church
magazines. They are a trusted source of wise counsel and direction. We
would do well to heed their words.
I want to remind you that words of safety come from
the prophets. We must make sure that we follow them. I bear testimony
to you that they are inspired men who care for you and want you to have
peace and happiness in your life.
2. Be ye clean. To the early Saints,
the Lord declared: "Go ye out from among the wicked. Save yourselves.
Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord" (D&C
President Hinckley has been very specific in his
comments on this subject. He said: "Stay away from pornography as
you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become
habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone.
It is addictive" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 67; or Ensign,
May 1998, 49).
Have you followed the prophet's counsel in this
regard? If you have, then I commend you for your wisdom. If you have not,
then now is the time to act. You cannot have peace in your life if you
have allowed the insidious influence of pornography to envelop your life.
Get help. Get out of the "mist of darkness" (see 1
Nephi 8:23) and back onto that right path that will lead to eternal
3. Honesty is the best policy. The
older I get, the more I realize that being honest in our dealings with
others is a principle we must live by (see Articles
of Faith 1:13). Throughout my life I have witnessed acts of honesty
that have required courage. Sometimes in business there can be a temptation
to be dishonest to close a sale. Some say that it is all right to be less
than honest. It is not. Once the reputation for dishonesty is generally
known, it is very hard for the individual to be trusted again. Honesty
is a character trait that should be at the very foundation of our lives.
You will recall how the people of Ammon, Lamanite
converts in the Book of Mormon, "were . . . distinguished for their
zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest
and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ,
even unto the end" (Alma
27:27). These Saints transmitted their righteousness to their children.
These children later became the stripling young warriors who saved the
4. Keep the Sabbath day holy. When
we fail to keep the Sabbath day holy, we fail the test set by the Lord.
To some it may seem like a little thing. What we are talking about is
one of the Ten Commandments (see Exodus
20:8). It is very important. We will be blessed by the Lord if we
live exactly in this regard.
By keeping the Sabbath day holy we build for ourselves
spiritual character. It is not always easy to avoid the temptations of
the world, but there is peace and safety in doing so. Sometimes those
we call close friends will encourage us to ignore this very important
commandment. However, by observing it we will have power over evil, we
will be more spiritual, and we will keep ourselves unspotted from the
sins of the world (see D&C
The Sabbath day provides us an opportunity to step
away from the world for one day to restore our spirituality so that we
can get through the other six days.
5. Read and ponder the scriptures, and pray often.
Elder Henry B. Eyring taught us at October conference: "If you ponder
the scriptures and begin to do what you covenanted with God to do, I can
promise you that you will feel more love for God and more of His love
for you. And with that, your prayers will come from the heart, full of
thanks and of pleading. You will feel a greater dependence on God. You
will find the courage and the determination to act in His service, without
fear and with peace in your heart" ("Prayer,"
Ensign, Nov. 2001, 17).
There is great power in pondering the scriptures.
Those who do this have the right to inspiration and revelation to guide
6. Serve others. As true followers
of Jesus Christ, we should practice what we preach. The scriptures teach,
"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own
We know that actions speak louder than words and
we understand that the true measure for our service is found in the Savior's
words: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these
. . . , ye have done it unto me" (Matthew
Let us strive to give of ourselves through service
to others. We cannot remain aloof from the needs and sufferings of others.
No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, there is always an
opportunity for us to serve. A wise man once said, "The man who lives
by himself and for himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps"
(Charles Henry Parkhurst, quoted in The International Dictionary of
Thoughts , 659).
7. Keep the commandments. Elder Dallin
H. Oaks has counseled:
"The formula for peace: keep the commandments
of God. War and conflict are the result of wickedness; peace is the product
of righteousness. . . .
". . . Each citizen furthers the cause of world
peace when he or she keeps the commandments of God and lives at peace
with family and neighbors. . . .
"What can one person do to promote world peace?
The answer is simple: keep God's commandments and serve his children"
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 9293; or Ensign,
May 1990, 7273).
Why do you suppose the Brethren spend so much of
their time helping you with guidance and direction? I hope you recognize
that they care for your spiritual welfare.
All Suffer Trials and Tribulations
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ are not free
from trial and tribulation. When the pioneers crossed the plains in the
early days of the Church, Eliza R. Snow wrote the hymn "Think Not,
When You Gather to Zion." I find the words very appropriate:
Think not when you gather to Zion,
Your troubles and trials are through,
That nothing but comfort and pleasure
Are waiting in Zion for you:
No, no, 'tis designed as a furnace,
All substance, all textures to try,
To burn all the "wood, hay, and stubble,"
The gold from the dross purify.
Think not when you gather to Zion,
That all will be holy and pure;
That fraud and deception are banished,
And confidence wholly secure:
No, no, for the Lord our Redeemer
Has said that the tares with the wheat
Must grow till the great day of burning
Shall render the harvest complete.
Think not when you gather to Zion,
The Saints here have nothing to do
But to look to your personal welfare,
And always be comforting you.
No; those who are faithful are doing
What they find to do with their might;
To gather the scattered of Israel
They labor by day and by night.
[Hymns (1948), no. 21]
In her book Adversity, author Elaine Cannon recalls
a moment from the life of Sister Freda Joan Lee, who was mourning the
death of her husband, President Harold B. Lee. Sister Cannon writes:
"Sister Lee sobbed and said, The world
is mourning a prophet, but I have lost my husband. And I have had him
such a short time.'
"Sister Lee, since then deceased herself, was
in her sixties when she married President Lee, following the death of
his first wife, and she comforted countless numbers of single girls with
this hope. Thinking of separation now, plus a stretch of loneliness ahead,
proved a consuming trial for her. She who had comforted so many now stood
on the uncomfortable threshold of despair herself.
"Later, lonely and struggling to understand
the untimely death of her husband who had been President of the Church
for a brief eighteen months, Sister Lee sat in church on the back bench.
She had a prayer in her heart for peace. In the midst of her affliction
she turned to God for a way back up and out of anguish.
"Then the closing song was sung. It was Though
Deepening Trials' [Eliza R. Snow's great hymn of hope in the Savior].
The last verse particularly comforted her:
Lift up your hearts in praise to God;
Let your rejoicings never cease.
Though tribulations rage abroad,
Christ says, In me ye shall have peace.'
[Hymns (1985), no. 122]
(Adversity , 11718).
There are a number of lessons we can learn from
Sister Lee's experience. Note how Sister Lee attended her Church meetings
even though she was greatly troubled by the passing of her husband. Note
how she had a prayer in her heart. She knew her peace would come from
God. She was alert and attentive during the meeting. Note, too, how her
answer was found in the words of a simple hymn. In her humility, she recognized
the answer when it came to her.
Each week we have the opportunity to renew our covenants
when we partake of the sacrament. Because this happens so often, it is
easy to overlook the profound promises made there. For our part, we promise
our Eternal Father that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name
of His Son, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. In return,
we are promised that we will always have His Spirit with us (see D&C
20:77, 79). As you face a week out in the world, can you imagine having
a more comforting promise?
It is vital to our well-being that we partake of
the sacrament worthily. By doing so and by keeping the covenants we make,
we are building our reserves of strength for times of need. We are also
becoming a better people. We will stand as beacons to those around us.
We will recognize the quiet confidence that comes to those who faithfully
live the gospel. We will have confidence in our ability to answer questions
and concerns of others. Others will look to us in times of trouble to
help them. We will be able to help them find the peace of the gospel of
When answering questions from those around us, we
should be kind to all with whom we talk, regardless of their race, culture,
or beliefs. We should never be smug or self-righteous. We should act with
love in our hearts, remembering that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ
that provides the peace.
Can you now see that true world peace starts with
you and me? We need to take care of the little things, and maybe some
big things, too, if changes in life's direction are needed. It may require
courage similar to that shown by my young friend Jeremy. It certainly
requires a willingness to live the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face
of increasing evil and worldliness, and commitment to fearlessly hold up
the beacon for others to follow.
As President Hinckley concluded general conference
a few weeks ago, he said:
"Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our
duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some
of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even
be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father
will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to
Him. He has declared: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord'
33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience
to the commandments of God. . . .
"Are these perilous times? They are. But there
is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes.
We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.
"May the God of heaven, the Almighty, bless
us, help us, as we walk our various ways in the uncertain days that lie
ahead. May we look to Him with unfailing faith. May we worthily place
our reliance on His Beloved Son who is our great Redeemer, whether it
be in life or in death" (Ensign, Nov. 2001, 74).
I testify to you, my wonderful young friends, that
peace does come as we live the gospel of Jesus Christ and follow the words
of our living prophets when those trials, temptations, and worrisome times
come in our lives.
I testify that we have a living prophet today who
holds all of the keys of the kingdom, in the essence of President Gordon
B. Hinckley, whom I love with all my heart. But it is my Savior, Jesus
Christ, and my Father in Heaven, even God the Father, that I worship and
whom I testify of to you.
I hope and pray that burning within your souls and
your spirits is that hungering desire to have that testimony that will
sustain youthat peace comes from Him who gave His life for us that
we might live again, even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, of which
I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.