Some time ago I watched a soccer game in which the favored team, the Lions, was expected to beat the Pumas, a team that hadn’t done very well during the season. The two teams had played against each other earlier in the year, and the Pumas had been badly beaten. Everyone expected this particular game to be the same, although fan support was about evenly divided between the two teams. But then an incident on the field involving two players seemed to turn the crowd against the Lions. From that point on, more than 15,000 fans excitedly cheered the Pumas to a winning score.
A cheering section can make a difference in life. As you watch professional sports, you can almost be assured that the home team will do well. Brazil has a soccer team that almost never loses when it is playing at home. The reason? Maracana Stadium in Brazil holds more than 220,000 fans who noisily yell their support at every game.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of cheering section when you feel like you are not winning in life? How would it feel to know that it really matters to somebody whether you win or lose, whether you shine in victory or retreat in defeat?
I bear you my solemn witness that each one of us has a cheering section, both seen and unseen. There are those who want us to succeed. We may sometimes doubt it, but it is true nevertheless. There are those we see: parents, children, brothers, sisters, relatives, teachers, friends. But there are also those who are unseen who care and are cheering for us: heavenly parents, loved ones who have gone before us, those who are yet to come. They want us to succeed.
There are those who continue to care, whether here or on the other side of this earthly veil. Of that I am sure! Even when you feel all alone, there are those who are cheering for you.
I remember a friend of mine who went to high school and college, then married and had a small family. One day someone he didn’t know really well came up to him and said, “I just thought you might like to know that I am one of your greatest fans. I have always watched you and have tried to pattern my life after yours.”
There are people who care, you see, even when we don’t know it. I wonder how many parents pray silently for their children? How many sons and daughters must silently pray for their mother or father? In how many crises do friends silently cheer for each other? I am convinced that they are almost without number. Of course, there’s only one thing better than cheering silently: that’s cheering silently and vocally; to let those around us know we really care.
There are many of you who feel that you don’t get much support, silent or otherwise. To you in particular I want to give my assurance that there are those who cheer from on high. God created us and loves us. More than anything else, he desires our righteous success now and our safe return to him later. When we feel no other support, we can count on him. To David of old and to us he said, “Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart” (Ps. 27:14).
To all of us who are trying to do the right things he has again promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).
And finally, if we can just remember those great promises, we will eventually be able to say, with Moses: “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God” (Ex. 15:2). When all else fails, he will not.
All of us have parents, friends, or other loved ones who have died. They too exercise faith in our behalf. Do parents stop caring because they die? Are friends no longer friends at death? Does caring stop at the grave? I want you to know that it does not. Life is eternal.
And what of those yet to come to earth? Do they have an interest in your success? Your unborn children watch you from above with great interest and concern. They want the best for themselves and for you. You can be sure of it. Probably millions of spirits yet to be born cheer loudly for the millions of us who prepare the way for them. I believe it could be no other way.
My message to you is, hopefully, clear. Every person in this life has a cheering section. It is made up of those around us, those who have passed from this mortal life, and those who are yet to come to earth.
Above all, I bear you my witness that there is a Father in heaven who put you here on earth and wants you to return to him. His support alone will do it. May we draw close to him so we can know it. May we then give it to those around us who need it, especially our own families. May the Spirit give you the same assurance that I have that our Father lives, that he loves us, and that he, together with many others can bring us safely home.