Viewpoint: Conference Messages Are “A Healing Salve”

Contributed By the Church News

  • 9 October 2016

A woman takes notes during the morning session of the October 2016 general conference.  Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • General conference acts like a healing salve for an ailing world.
  • President Monson encouraged us to “search and pray, repent and improve.”
  • Conference provides guidance, comfort, and answers in a darkening world.

“I am grateful that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has answers to the most complex questions in life. These answers are taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are true, plain, straightforward, and easy to understand.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

Every six months, general conference acts like a healing salve for an ailing world—the perfect prescription for the confusion, ill will, anger, and violence that have infected so much of everyday life and made people yearn for better things. It calms anxious hearts concerned about turmoil in governments or terrorism and brings peace to people beset with personal trials.

The 186th Semiannual General Conference of the Church bore powerful testimony to the world of the comforting truth that God has restored His Church upon the earth with power and authority and that He has called a prophet to lead the world out of difficulties. The messages delivered were clear. This life is part of a divine plan. God cares about each person individually. The Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, was a supreme act of love that can bless each life as people repent and seek Him, and it is possible to feel joy even under the most trying circumstances.

For faithful Latter-day Saints, the messages given every six months are scripture—specific divine instructions for current times and circumstances. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets,” the prophet Amos declared (Amos 3:7). And unlike solutions the world might offer to problems of the day, those the Lord has called to lead His Church today do not speak of new programs or the expenditure of tax funds. God’s plan for happiness is much simpler, even as it is perfect.

“We need to know God’s laws”

President Thomas S. Monson’s messages were short and direct, and aimed squarely at things the world needs to hear today: obey the Word of Wisdom and share the marvelous message of the plan of salvation.

“It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission,” President Monson said. “We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by doing so will we obtain true, eternal happiness.”

President Monson emphasized the “mandate to share the truth” and to “live the truth.” He bore a powerful testimony of the plan of salvation. “From the depths of my soul, and in all humility, I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.”

His message regarding the Word of Wisdom comes as many states and nations deal with questions over whether to legalize the recreational use of drugs that have long been illegal and as law enforcement tangles daily with new substances that lure young people. “Brethren,” he said during the priesthood session, “may we care for our bodies and our minds by observing the principles set forth in the Word of Wisdom, a divinely provided plan. With all my heart and soul I testify of the glorious blessings which await us as we do” (“Principles and Promises”).

“Forgiveness … comes as we partake of the sacrament”

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of gratitude and love in the context of the Sabbath. “Of all the blessings we can count, one of the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament,” he said.

“The Sabbath is also a perfect time to remember the covenant we made at the waters of baptism to love and serve Heavenly Father’s children,” he said. “Fulfilling that promise on the Sabbath will include participating in a class or quorum with full purpose of heart to build faith and love among our brothers and sisters. That promise will include cheerfully fulfilling our callings” (“Gratitude on the Sabbath Day”).

“The most complex questions in life”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, also spoke of the plan of salvation and the questions he said every human being has about life. “I am grateful that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has answers to the most complex questions in life,” he said. “These answers are taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are true, plain, straightforward, and easy to understand. They are inspired, and we teach them to our three-year-olds in the Sunbeam class” (“O How Great the Plan of Our God!”).

“He is the source of all joy”

President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of the ability to feel joy in life, regardless of circumstances. “When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives,” he said. “Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy.”

President Nelson said this knowledge could help each person “as conflicts between nations escalate, as cowardly terrorists prey on the innocent, and as corruption in everything from business to government becomes increasingly commonplace” (“Joy and Spiritual Survival”).

Many people in the world are searching for happiness, inner peace, and joy. They long for a prescription that would help them navigate a world that increasingly looks to denigrate and belittle all that is good. For two days, each speaker in this conference provided a timely and vital message that people would do well to study again and again. What a blessing it is to know that God has not left the world alone to struggle through dark and confusing times.