Thursday, June 21, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on bearing burdens patiently and in faith

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"And so I ask you to be patient in things of the Spirit. Perhaps your life has been different from mine, but I doubt it. I have had to struggle to know my standing before God. As a teenager I found it hard to pray and harder to fast. My mission was not easy. I struggled as a student only to find that I had to struggle afterwards, too. In this present assignment I have wept and ached for guidance. It seems no worthy accomplishment has ever come easily for me, but I’m living long enough to be grateful for that....
"All but a prophetic few must go about God’s work in very quiet, very unspectacular ways. And as you labor to know him, and to know that he knows you; as you invest your time—and inconvenience—in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that 'his angels [have] charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up.' (Matt. 4:6.) It may not come quickly. It probably won’t come quickly, but there is purpose in the time it takes. Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well....
"If sometimes the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Inconvenient Messiah," BYU Devotional, 2 February 1982; see Ensign February 1984, pp. 68-73
Click here to read the full talk

This is one of my favorite of the perhaps lesser-known talks given by Elder Holland. Speaking to an audience of students when he was serving as the president of BYU, he addresses the Savior's profound example of not choosing the easy or convenient way. And the applications to us are many as we face challenges in our lives; we often are asked to follow a more difficult path.

Elder Holland points to the personal struggles he faced in his life to make spiritual progress. Most of us have felt similar concerns and struggles. He encouraged us to "invest [our] time—and inconvenience—in quiet, unassuming service" in order to feel the blessings of heaven sustaining us in the process. And then he offered this challenge and counsel:

It requires faith and understanding to be able to "cherish" the "spiritual burdens" that come to us. We have to learn to trust in God's promises that the blessings will come not just at the end of the trials, but in the process of them. Elder Holland's reassurance, through his personal experience and the testimonies of others he shares, helps to give us that perspective.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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