Tuesday, January 10, 2017

President Henry B. Eyring on turning to God in times of personal trial

President Henry B. Eyring (born May 31, 1933) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"In the depths of his anguish in Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith cried out: 'O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?' (D&C 121:1.) Many of us, in moments of personal anguish, feel that God is far from us. The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible. Our own desires, rather than a feeling of 'Thy will be done' (Matthew 6:10), create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God. God is not unable to see us or communicate with us, but we may be unwilling to listen or submit to His will and His time.
"Our feelings of separation from God will diminish as we become more childlike before Him. That is not easy in a world where the opinions of other human beings can have such an effect on our motives. But it will help us recognize this truth: God is close to us and aware of us and never hides from His faithful children....
"Jesus Christ lives, knows us, watches over us, and cares for us. In moments of pain, loneliness, or confusion, we do not need to see Jesus Christ to know that He is aware of our circumstances and that His mission is to bless."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Where Is the Pavilion?", Ensign, November 2011, pp. 72-75
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

I've always been moved by the despair expressed in Joseph Smith's words from Liberty Jail—the apparent feelings of loneliness, solitude, isolation. For some reason, God felt far, far away at that moment. For the first six verses of the section he pours out his soul in his sadness and concern, until the comforting response comes: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment..." (D&C 121:7).

President Eyring acknowledges that many of us have similar feelings of "personal anguish" at times, but he points out that God is not hiding from us; we have temporarily blocked our view or our access. In reality, the problem happens when we are "unwilling to listen or submit to His will and His time." That is when we most need to examine our own hearts, to see if they are caught up in selfish desires, or sincerely open to God's will for us.

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