Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Elder Ronald A. Rasband on the value of loyal friends

Elder Ronald A. Rasband (b. February 6, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 2000.  He was the senior president of the Seventy when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
"Many years ago, in March of 1839, the Prophet Joseph Smith, with several of his companions, had been wrongfully incarcerated for months at Liberty Jail. Many writers of Church history have said that this experience for the Prophet Joseph was certainly one of the most difficult and darkest periods of his entire life. His words 'O God, where art thou?' (D&C 121:1)—as recorded in section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants—speak of a desperate loneliness in the bleakest of settings.
"The Lord did not appear or send angels; He did not thrash the guards or swing wide the door of that damp, dirty cell. Put simply, He did not change the circumstances, but He spoke comfort and reassurance to Joseph like no other could: 'My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment' (D&C 121:7). It was as if the Lord put His arm around Joseph when He said, 'My son.' Those are precious and tender words. And then He put a timetable on Joseph’s hardship—'a small moment.' What a lesson for all of us to remember. Our hardships will be brief—in eternal terms—and the Lord will be right there.
"Then the Lord said this: 'Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands' (D&C 121:9).
"Here was Joseph, locked in jail by the treachery of men, some of whom had once been his close associates. But the Lord made the point so clear—'thy friends do stand by thee.' How comforting that declaration was to the Prophet Joseph; how comforting to us. Think for a minute what it means to you to know you have someone standing right by you, someone you can trust to be your friend on good days and bad, someone who values you and supports you even when the two of you are apart.
"Our most prized friend is Jesus Christ Himself. Is there any greater assurance than His 'I will be on your right hand and on your left, . . . and mine angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88)? So often those 'angels round about' are our friends."
- Ronald A. Rasband, "Thy Friends Do Stand by Thee," BYU Devotional March 7, 2010
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The challenging and difficult conditions to which Joseph Smith and his companions were subjected in Liberty Jail are heart-rending to us—"a desperate loneliness in the bleakest of settings." For Joseph it was certainly "one of the most difficult and darkest periods of his entire life." Elder Rasband talked about the Lord's reassurance to Joseph during that time, in speaking peace to his soul; but then commented on the further reminder the Lord provided about Joseph's loyal friends:

Certainly the knowledge of friends standing by our side is for us a great blessing, as it was for Joseph. The love and confidence of a devoted friend can be a powerful blessing. We should cultivate and treasure those friendships, and more importantly, seek to be that kind of friend to others.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is the knowledge that Jesus Christ can be "our most prized friend." The Savior gave these beautiful instructions to his ancient disciples:
"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:14-15).
It should be a great desire for each of us to be called His friend. And then, to reflect that gift of inspired and inspiring friendship to those around us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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