10407_000_010Putting the Lord, His kingdom, and our families first will give us the hope we need to face present and future challenges.
Brother Arnaldo Teles Grilo became one of my best friends when I was in my mid-20s. At the age of 62, Brother Grilo, then a retired engineer, was called as one of my counselors in the presidency of what was then the Oeiras Portugal District, where we served together for several years.
His wisdom and experience provided me, a young priesthood leader, much valuable counsel and insight. He was an optimist by nature; he always saw the bright side of every situation and had a good sense of humor. His attitude was a source of great inspiration to many around him and in particular to me because I knew about the arduous challenges he had faced.
After his graduation as an engineer, Brother Grilo joined the National Agronomic Agency as a researcher in Portugal and later traveled to one of the Portuguese colonies in Africa to lead a cotton research project. The project led him to a successful career as a senior executive in a large international bank in that country. During almost 30 years in Africa, he raised a beautiful family and enjoyed a good life until his family was abruptly forced to return to Portugal because of the tragedy of conflict and war.
Brother Grilo and his family left behind everything they had worked for—all their property and personal belongings—after witnessing firsthand the devastating effects of war on a country they loved.
Despite the confusion and turmoil generated by a war that gradually consumed all peace and stability during his last months in Africa, Brother Grilo rescued one of his friends by giving him an expensive car he had purchased in Germany. The car allowed his friend and his friend’s mother to escape the war.
The abundant material possessions that a life of hard work had provided Brother Grilo did not blur his priorities. He remained anchored in solid principles and love for his family.
Back in Portugal at age 52, he faced the reality of beginning everything from zero. With all of this adversity and tragedy, what made the difference in his life? Why was he so positive about the present and the future? Why was he so confident?
Brother Grilo was converted in the early days of the Church in Portugal and became a solid pillar and pioneer in that country. Several times he led his family to the temple in Switzerland, traveling 2,800 miles (4,500 km) round-trip in an expression of faith and devotion. Over his years of service, Brother Grilo and his wife brought joy to their children and many others.
Brother Grilo’s faith was centered in Jesus Christ and in the knowledge that in the end, Jesus Christ would reign. This gave him hope in the present and in the future.
The New Testament ends with a message of great hope.1 Prophets such as John the Revelator saw things that are to come and told us of the blessings we would receive if we remain righteous and endure to the end.
John saw a book with seven seals, or time periods, and he described how Satan has always fought against the righteous (see Revelation 5:1–5; 6). But John also saw that Satan would be bound and that Christ would reign in triumph (see Revelation 19:1–9; 20:1–11). Finally he saw that the righteous would dwell with God after the Last Judgment (see Revelation 20:12–15).
One of today’s great challenges is learning to conquer fear and despair in order to overcome trials and temptations. It takes only a few moments for us to open a newspaper, scroll the web, or hear a news broadcast on radio or television to be confronted with distressing accounts of crime and natural calamities that happen every day.
Understanding the promises in scripture concerning how the Lord will conquer evil and how truth will conquer error can help us face the future with hope and optimism. In today’s world we see war, natural calamities, and economic crises. At times these events are not just things we observe from a distance but are things that affect us personally.
There is no need for us to mourn lost worldly possessions or to fixate on the temporal, for those things can rob us of the joy of the simple, sublime things of life.
I am grateful for the example of Brother Arnaldo Teles Grilo. He kept spiritual matters first, matters “of great worth unto [us] in the last days” (2 Nephi 25:8), including family relationships and service to others.
We should all face the future with hope because we know that the forces of evil will be overcome. We should all maintain a positive outlook as we face challenges because today we have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, priesthood authority, temples, and the support of each other as members of the Church. We should all “come off conqueror” because of prayer (D&C 10:5). And most important, we should have hope in eternal life because of the Lord’s perfect atoning sacrifice (see Moroni 7:41).
When our priorities are right, we will live a richer and more abundant life. Putting the Lord, His kingdom, and our families first will give us the hope we need to face present and future challenges.