Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Robert D. Hales on the promises of faithful parenting

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932- ) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"As Paul prophesied, we live in 'perilous times' (2 Tim. 3:1). 'Satan [has been going] about, leading away the hearts of the people' (3 Ne. 2:3), and his influence is increasing. But no matter how evil the world becomes, our families can be at peace. If we do what's right, we will be guided and protected.
"The hymn often sung by our pioneer ancestors tells us what to do: 'Gird up your loins; fresh courage take. / Our God will never us forsake' (Hymns No. 30). That courage and faith is what we need as parents and families in these latter days.
"Father Lehi had such courage. He loved his family and rejoiced that some of his children kept the Lord's commandments. But he must have been heartbroken when his sons 'Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit' representing the love of God. 'He exceedingly feared for [them]; yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord' (1 Ne. 8:35-36).
"Every parent faces moments of such fear. However, when we exercise our faith by teaching our children and doing what we can to help them, our fears will diminish. Lehi girded up his loins, and with faith 'he did exhort [his children] with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them.' And 'he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord' (1 Ne. 8:37-38).
"We too must have the faith to teach our children and bid them to keep the commandments. We should not let their choices weaken our faith. Our worthiness will not be measured according to their righteousness. Lehi did not lose the blessing of feasting at the tree of life because Laman and Lemuel refused to partake of its fruit. Sometimes as parents we feel we have failed when our children make mistakes or stray. Parents are never failures when they do their best to love, teach, pray, and care for their children. Their faith, prayers, and efforts will be consecrated to the good of their children."
- Robert D. Hales, "With All the Feeling of a Tender Parent: A Message of Hope to Families," Ensign, May 2004, pp. 88-91
Click here to read the full talk

Parenting brings challenges and blessings; sometimes those challenges, particularly in the "perilous times" of today, are overwhelming. It requires faith and courage similar to our "pioneer ancestors" who confronted different kinds of trials in their day. Even so, there are often disappointments and even heartbreaks along the way, as many including "Father Lehi" could witness.

Elder Hales encourages parents to "exercise our faith" in order to overcome fears. We do that by teaching and helping in any way we can, and setting the example of faith and obedience.

This final thought was insightful; a parent's righteous efforts to love and teach a child will eventually be "consecrated for the good of their children." In other words, ultimately and eventually, the child will be blessed by the righteousness of the parent. That's a very reassuring promise.

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