Viewpoint: “By the Voice of My Servants”
from the Church News
It would be difficult to find an issue that members of the Church might face that wasn’t addressed in the spiritual feast that was the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the proper understanding of priesthood power to questions concerning marriage, mental illness, difficult struggles with unanswered gospel questions, the roles of women, and how to deal with life’s sorrows and challenges, leaders of the Church were inspired to provide counsel and instruction on matters specific to this point in time.
Together, these messages bore powerful testimony to the truth that God has restored His Church upon the earth in the latter days with power and authority and that He has called a prophet to lead the people.
Mostly, they testified to the concern an Almighty God has with each individual in a personal and intimate way and His desire to comfort and heal.
President Thomas S. Monson, whose life and ministry has been a testament to how the Lord loves and blesses the individual through the ministering of His servants, emphasized the comfort and strength that can come through living the gospel, even during times of extreme trial.
“The history of the Church in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer,” he said during his Sunday morning conference address. “The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head-on, and to emerge victorious” (“I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee,” Oct. 2013 general conference).
This simple and beautiful formula may not be the type of message the world would expect to hear in a time of such confusion and disarray, yet it is profound, powerful, and true. The world is moving away from the teachings of the Savior, questioning and rejecting elementary and foundational doctrines, and reaping sadness and problems in return. Clearly, there is a great need to return to the God who created them, set them on earth, and loves them perfectly.
President Monson’s message was especially powerful and poignant given the sorrow he himself acknowledged feeling since the recent death of his wife, Frances. He noted their 65th wedding anniversary would have been the day after conference ended. “She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant, and my closest friend,” he said. “To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings.”
Sadness and suffering, he said, “are universal.” They come even to the Lord’s prophet, and they come for a reason.
“Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than what we had before.”
Each conference seems better than the one before, precisely because each one is a set of messages from the Lord to His children tailor-made for their needs at an exact moment in time.
General conference blesses the world in ways of which the world is largely unaware. While nations and their inhabitants struggle against rampant wickedness and its many consequences, the Lord speaks through His leaders in a collective voice that is clear, unambiguous, and available to all. Their words are priceless treasures guaranteed to bring happiness and joy. They provide a blueprint for ways in which Church members can bless the world, and they are a loud and ringing declaration that the Lord lives and loves all people of the world.