Thursday, June 28, 2018

President Howard W. Hunter on standing faithfully in the days of battle

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"At a critical moment in the battle of Waterloo, when everything depended on the steadiness of the soldiery, an anxious courier dashed into the presence of the Duke of Wellington, announcing that unless the troops were immediately relieved or withdrawn, they must yield before the impending assault of the French army. The Duke replied, 'Stand firm!'
"'But we shall perish!' remonstrated the officer.
"'Stand firm!' again was the answer of the ironhearted Duke.
"'You’ll find us there!' rejoined the courier, as he galloped away.
"And, of course, the British were victorious that day as a result of such loyalty and determination (see Walter Baxendale, ed., Dictionary of Anecdote, Incident, Illustrative Fact, New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1889, p. 225).
"Today another battle of far more serious consequence is being waged. It is a battle being fought for the souls of men. Its outcome likewise depends on the steadiness of the soldiery. The clarion call of the chieftain is heard above the fierce artillery of the archenemy, 'Stand firm! Be true!'
"Brothers and sisters, I am grateful that most within the sound of my voice are standing firm and remaining true to the kingdom of God. Like Helaman’s stripling warriors, 'they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come' (Alma 58:40). I am referring to those members of the Church who live their Christian beliefs in the quiet commonplace of their daily lives."
- Howard W. Hunter, "Am I a 'Living” Member?,' General Coference April 1987
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

When faced with overwhelming odds, does it make sense for a military force to "stand firm" and not retreat? It might! Perhaps the commander is aware of circumstances or situations that would make that kind of defense the right thing to do. If a commander is certain that a stand will result eventually in victory, then the counsel is wise.

President Hunter used the example of British troops at Waterloo to illustrate this principle. With determination and resolve, at that moment "when everything depended on the steadiness of the soldiery," they were counseled to "stand firm" and they did, eventually winning the battle in spite of what appeared to be a hopeless and desperate situation.

In the battle we are fighting "for the souls of men" in our world today, our leaders and commanders are giving us that same message: stand firm!

The way we "stand firm" in the battles and challenges of our time is to "live [the] Christian beliefs in the quiet commonplace of [our] daily lives." That simple but powerful message is so critical for us. As we "observe to keep... his commandments continually" (not just occasionally, or when convenient) we will find that our "faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come" and we will be blessed and sustained.

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

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