Sunday, February 7, 2016

LeGrand Richards on finding hope in a troubled world

Elder LeGrand Richards (1886-1983) served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church from 1938-1952, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He died in 1983 at age 96.  Many today remember him fondly for his spirited, usually extemporaneous talks in conference about missionary work or the plan of salvation.
"A few weeks ago, a young lady phoned me for an appointment; and when she came to the office, she sat there and cried for a little while and then she said: 'Bishop, what is there for the young people today? We have war. They are taking all the boys; it looks like another great war is ahead of us. What do we young people have to live for?'
"I looked at her for a few minutes and said, 'Have you ever thought of the other side of the story?'
"She said, 'What side?'
"'Well,' I said, 'you remember the story of the two buckets that went down in the well; as the one came up, it said, "This is surely a cold and dreary world. No matter how many times I come up full, I always have to go down empty?" Then the other bucket laughed and said, "With me it is different. No matter how many times I go down empty, I always come up full."'
"I said, 'Have you ever stopped to realize that of all the millions of our Father's children, you are one of the most favored? You are privileged to live in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times that the prophets of old have looked forward to, when there is more revealed truth upon the earth than there has ever been in any other dispensation of the world's history, and where we enjoy blessings and comforts of life that kings did not enjoy a few years ago. Have you ever stopped to think of that side of the story?'
"And before she left, she decided that probably it wasn't as cold and dreary a world, after all, as it might be.
"I said, 'You just go on, and live right, and don't you lose your courage, and don't think that life isn't worth while and isn't worth living. Whether you live or whether you die or whether you are permitted to live a long life or a short life isn't going to be the thing that is going to determine the success or failure of your life; it's how you live. And if we only live right, it will not matter whether the time is short or long; we won't have to worry much about it.'"
- LeGrand Richards, "Signs of the Times," Conference Report, April 1951, pp. 39-45
Click here to read the full talk

It's easy to despair when we focus on the world with all its troubles and challenges. Sometimes we fall into that trap of wondering, "What do we young people [or older people too] have to live for?" Elder Richards instead counsels that we focus on all the blessings and opportunities instead of the challenges or concerns. That only happens when we have a true understanding of the eternal plan and our individual place in it.

The great and eternal key is to "live right" — then the rest really will not matter.

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