Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor
“There are three parts to that remarkable description of the qualifications to associate in a state of happiness with God. One is to care for each other. Another is to teach each other and be taught. And the third is to sit down together with God.” —Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency
Bands of valiant sisters across the earth have turned their faith into action in hundreds of places, said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency. “What you have done remarkably well together is to cherish, watch over and comfort each other.”
Speaking during the Church’s General Relief Society Meeting on Sept. 29, President Eyring addressed a capacity congregation in the Church’s Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City. The meeting—which also included addresses from the General Relief Society Presidency—was translated and broadcast across the globe. President Thomas S. Monson presided at the meeting.
During his address, President Eyring quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, who said Relief Society sisters need to “cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together” (Quoted in “Daughters in My Kingdom,” p. 25).
President Eyring explained, “There are three parts to that remarkable description of the qualifications to associate in a state of happiness with God. One is to care for each other. Another is to teach each other and be taught. And the third is to sit down together with God.
“My purpose tonight is to help you feel the commendation and appreciation of God for what you have already done to help each other reach that lofty goal. And, second, it is to describe some of what is yet to come in your unified service.”
President Eyring told the worldwide congregation that each Latter-day Saint woman is “in a unique place in your journey to eternal life.”
“Some have years of experience and others are early in their mortal discipleship. Each is unique in her personal history and her challenges. But all of you are sisters and beloved daughters of our Heavenly Father who knows and watches over each of you.”
President Eyring spoke of a miracle that, one month ago, touched his own family.
His daughter, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant and home alone with her 3-year-old daughter when she experienced a medical emergency associated with her pregnancy. Her husband was away at work and told her to call 911. But before she could place the call a knock came at the door. It was her visiting teaching companion.
“They had no appointment for that morning. Her companion had simply felt she ought to come by to see Elizabeth.”
The woman drove Elizabeth to the hospital, where doctors performed surgery just in time to save Elizabeth and the baby—which weighed one pound, eleven ounces.
“A faithful member of the Relief Society, prompted by the Holy Ghost, watched over, cherished, and comforted her sister in God’s kingdom,” President Eyring said. “She and the tens of thousands of others who have given such inspired service over the generations have not only the thanks of those they helped and their loved ones, but of the Lord.”
The miracle of one Relief Society sister arriving to help just in time is multiplied through the power of a unified society of sisters, President Eyring said. Soon Elizabeth’s family received a message from their bishop who said the ward Relief Society president was building a plan to assist them and help them care for their older children while they spent time at the hospital with the new baby.
“What they did for my daughter made it possible for her to have a precious moment, when she held for the first time, her tiny daughter,” he said.
President Eyring then spoke to Latter-day women across the globe. “With all your differences in personal circumstances and past experiences I can tell you something of what lies ahead for you,” he said. “As you keep the faith you will find yourself invited by the Lord often to serve someone in need when it will not seem convenient.”
President Eyring said lessons from the story of the Good Samaritan—who found a beaten traveler on the road, helped the man and put in place a specific plan for others to do more—can guide Relief Society sisters.
“At least once, and perhaps often, you have been surprised when you encountered someone in need of care,” he said. “It may have been a parent, a grandparent, a sister or a child struck by illness or disability. Your feelings of compassion prevailed over your human desires. So, you began to offer help.
“Like the traveler in the scripture story of the Good Samaritan it is likely that the help needed turned into longer-term care than you could give alone. The Samaritan needed to pass the traveler to the care of the innkeeper. The Lord’s plan for serving others in need provides teams.”
President Eyring said bishops and Relief Society presidents always invite family members to help each other when there is a need.
“You have observed and felt that blessing,” he said. “Whenever you have cared for someone for even a short time you have felt love for the person you served.”
Because caregivers are mortal, that love may also be interrupted by feelings of frustration and fatigue, he said.
“That is another reason why the Lord lets us have the help of others in our service to those in need,” he said. “That is why the Lord has created societies of caregivers.”
President Eyring said caring for those in need takes a team—a loving and unified society.
“Even though extended and loving service to people is richly rewarded, you have learned that there are physical, emotional and financial limits to what is possible,” he said. “The person giving care long enough can become the one who needs care.”
President Eyring told the congregation that what they know of the plan of salvation can be their guide in making heartrending choices—such as balancing their desires to serve with the prudence of meeting their own needs.
“Our choice to best help someone through hard trials then becomes: ‘What course should I follow that will best help the person I love to “endure well?” It is for us to make it more likely that they can exercise faith in Christ, keep a bright hope of eternal life, and practice charity, the pure love of Christ, to the end of his or her life.’”
Great Relief Society presidents find ways to let those who need care help in the care of others, he said. “They create opportunities for sisters to endure trials well as they care for each other in the pure love of Christ. That may include gentle urging of the tired giver of care to rest and accept the help of others.”
The sisters make that possible by being slow to judge those going through trials, he said.
“Most people carrying heavy loads begin to doubt themselves and their own worth. We lighten their loads as we are patient with their weaknesses and celebrate whatever goodness we can see in them. The Lord does that.”
The Holy Ghost is sent to Relief Society sisters and to those they care for. “You will be strengthened and yet inspired to know the extent of your ability to serve,” he said. “The Spirit will comfort you when you may wonder, ‘Did I do enough?’
“I testify that the Lord will be with you and that your way will be prepared and marked for you by Him in your service to those He loves in their needs and trials.”