President Oaks Promises Storm-Weary, Faithful Floridians That Blessings Await

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News associate editor

  • 22 October 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, meet with and comfort people impacted by Hurricane Florence a few weeks ago.

Article Highlights

  • Affliction and obstacles are the reality of mortal life.
  • God desires to “consecrate” such suffering for the benefit of His children.
  • Afflictions can even be endured with gratitude.

“If we are faithful and prayerful, the Lord will help us get through [our afflictions] and He will consecrate them—which means set apart—for our gain, our blessing, and our growth.” —President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

The southern end of the U.S. Atlantic coast has been on the business end of adversity over the past several weeks.

First came Hurricane Florence, inundating the Carolinas with rain and overflowing inland rivers. Then Hurricane Michael arrived on the Florida Panhandle with historic, violent winds that turned tourist towns into rubble.

But adversity didn’t originate with the recent storms. Difficulties have been around since the beginning of time—and everyone will be battered by life’s blows at some point in their lives, said President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He and other Church leaders spoke at a Saturday evening devotional at the Florida Tallahassee Stake Center for storm-weary Church members and their friends.

Some deal with hurricanes and other random acts of nature. Others, perhaps, find themselves battered by depression or perhaps a sick or rebellious child or loved one.

“Affliction and obstacles are the reality of mortal life,” said President Oaks.

But afflictions, he assured, need not be suffered in vain. God desires to “consecrate” such suffering for the benefit of His children.

“If we are faithful and prayerful, the Lord will help us get through them and He will consecrate [our afflictions]—which means set apart—for our gain, our blessing, and our growth.”

The Saturday evening gathering could have almost been called “General Conference East.” Besides President Oaks, speakers at the standing-room only event included a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder David A. Bednar; the President of the Relief Society General Presidency, Sister Jean B. Bingham; a member of the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell; and a member of the Seventy, Elder Shayne M. Bowen.

The visiting authorities were accompanied by their spouses, who also shared brief remarks. The visiting authorities have spent the past couple of days touring communities in North and South Carolina heavily affected by Hurricane Florence. They will split up on Sunday to visit with Latter-day Saints hit hard by Hurricane Michael.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, greets a man after traveling to Florida and North Carolina this weekend to meet with Latter-day Saints and residents impacted by Hurricane Florence.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, meet with and comfort people impacted by Hurricane Florence a few weeks ago.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, meets with Latter-day Saints in North Carolina, October 20, 2018.

Even Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is in the final days of his campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate, participated Saturday. The governor offered brief comments before the beginning of the religious gathering. He thanked members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for coming to the aid of their fellow Floridians.

“Whenever there has been a disaster, you have always shown up,” he said.

In his concluding remarks, President Oaks spoke of his own widowed mother, who endured afflictions with faith and, in doing so, became a blessing in the lives of her children and many others.

Afflictions can even be endured with gratitude.

“Be grateful for the faith the Lord has in you,” he said. “Be grateful for what He has given you—the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Be grateful for a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Elder Bednar acknowledged that when hurricanes or other afflictions arrive, it’s natural to ask, “Why do really bad things happen to really good people?”

But disciples of Christ must follow the challenging path the Lord marked, he said. It won’t be easy—but Christ’s gospel offers direction and eternal perspectives.

“The perspective of the gospel allows us to learn lessons that prepare us for eternity through the adversity of mortality,” said Elder Bednar.

Without such perspective, life would seem hopeless, unfair, and cruel.

Sister Bingham thanked the Latter-day Saint volunteers from across the U.S. Southeast for offering relief to their “eternal brothers and sisters.”

The Helping Hands volunteers “just glow” in their recognizable yellow T-shirts. “Your Christlike service gives you a radiance that others can see and feel,” she said.

 

Florida Governor Rick Scott thanks Latter-day Saints for their ongoing efforts to provide relief to those impacted by Hurricane Michael a few minutes prior to a member devotional at the Florida Tallahassee Stake Center. President Dallin H. Oaks and Elder David A. Bednar, seated on the podium, participated in the devotional, along with several other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the October 20, 2018, event.

Latter-day Saints gather in overflow rooms to watch the October 20, 2018, member devotional in Tallahassee, Florida, that featured President Dallin H. Oaks and several other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Florida Governor Rick Scott offered a few remarks prior to the devotional. Photo by Jason Swensen, Deseret News.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, greets a Helping Hands worker October 21, 2018 at the Panama City Florida Stake Center. Photo by Jason Swenson.

Visiting leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tour the makeshift command center at the Panama City Florida Stake Center on October 21, 2018. From left, Sister Kristen Oaks, President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency, Sister Jean B. Bingham of the Relief Society General Presidency, Brother Bruce Bingham, Sister Carol Waddell, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric, Sister Debbie Carter, and Area Seventy Elder Douglas B. Carter. Photo by Jason Swenson.

Helping Hands volunteers walk past the fallen steeple outside the Panama City Florida Stake Center on October 21, 2018. Photo by Jason Swenson.

Yellow-clad Helping Hands volunteers come to their feet as President Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other visiting leaders arrive for an early-morning Sunday service in Panama City, Florida, on October 21, 2018. Photo by Jason Swenson.

Wade Kriser, far left, and a group of young helpers spontaneously offered service to a visitor with a flat tire, capturing the Helping Hands spirit that defined the day of service in Florida and the Carolinas on October 21, 2018. Photo by Jason Swenson.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, left, meets with Panama City, Florida, civic leader William Harrison and Panama City Mayor Greg Brudwick on October 21, 2018. Photo by Jason Swenson.

A damaged meetinghouse in Marianna, Florida. The meetinghouse is still being used as a Helping Hands command center. Photo by Jason Swenson.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, enjoy getting to know Dennis Kern, a recent Church convert and Helping Hands volunteer in Marianna, Florida. Photo by Jason Swenson.

Helping Hands volunteer Daniel Wemberly uses a tractor to clear out fallen trees in Marianna, Florida. Photo by Jason Swenson.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, receives a briefing on October 20, 2018, from Latter-day Saints on the damage Hurricane Florence did a few weeks ago.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, listens to and comforts a young Latter-day Saint as she describes her experience during Hurricane Florence.

A North Carolina resident tells President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, about his experience of living through Hurricane Florence.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, listen as survivors of Hurricane Florence talk about the devastation that hit their North Carolina community.

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, speak to Latter-day Saints in North Carolina in the areas damaged by Hurricane Florence.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Susan, visit Latter-day Saints in Florida, October 21, 2018. Church leaders toured the areas hit by the recent hurricanes.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, visit Latter-day Saints in Florida, October 21, 2018. Church leaders toured the areas hit by the recent hurricanes.