Wednesday, June 30, 2021

President Boyd K. Packer on the gentle voice of the Spirit

President Boyd K. Packer (1924- ) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He currently serves as the president of that Quorum.
"The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither 'loud' nor 'harsh.' It is 'not a voice of thunder, neither... voice of a great tumultuous noise.' But rather, 'a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,' and it can 'pierce even to the very soul' and 'cause [the heart] to burn.' (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; D&C 85:6-7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a 'still small voice.' (1 Kgs. 19:12.) 
"The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all.... 
"Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, 'Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.' (1 Sam. 3:10.)" 
- Boyd K. Packer, "The Candle of the Lord," talk given at a seminar for new mission presidents, 25 June 1982; see Ensign, January 1983, pp. 51-56
Click here to read the full talk
This is a wonderful description and great warning to us. We live in a very noisy world. with many distractions competing for our attention at all hours. We have devices that play music, that broadcast news or commentary, that bring information in a variety of forms.  Many of these have merit and can be used in very beneficial ways; but they also bring the danger of overuse. It takes real effort for us to find a way to quiet our surroundings and just listen.

Certainly this applies to our more formal times of prayer, when we communicate with Heavenly Father. We need to be sure that our efforts to address Him are also accompanied by time to listen. But it also applies to our general activities, when perhaps the Holy Ghost might have warnings or promptings to share:

And note the caution is not just about external noise, but also about us being "preoccupied" with things that might prevent us from listening.

And it's important to remember that listening is an active, deliberate action, not just a passive one. It's more than just cutting out noise and distractions; we have to actively seek and listen!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 9, 2015

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

President Thomas S. Monson on sharing and expressing love

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, 'They do not love that do not show their love' (Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 1, scene 2, line 31). We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us. 
"Send that note to the friend you've been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say 'I love you' more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It's so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they're gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of 'what if' and 'if only.' Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, 'The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone' (in Gorton Carruth and Eugene Erlich, comps., The Harper Book of American Quotations (1988), 173)." 
- Thomas S. Monson, "Finding Joy in the Journey," General Conference October 2008
Click here to read the full talk

This excerpt is full of good advice about our relationships and interactions.  It's appropriate that it comes from a talk titled "Finding Joy in the Journey" — we will certainly have more joy when we express more love and appreciation.

In the midst of coping with the challenges of our lives, how easy it is to neglect the things that not only are of greatest worth, but are also keys in coping with our challenges! That certainly includes "the people around us" and we must not forget the blessing those relationships are, and can be.

I've known a number of people who struggled to resolve a difference or to express their appreciation until it was too late; they knew exactly the sentiment President Monson is warning of in this next caution, and in his encouragement to not delay in sending a note, giving a hug, or expressing love to others:

That highlighted statement is a wonderful and profound summary of President Monson's counsel. We should never lose track of what matters most, and never postpone expressing love when we have the chance!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 7, 2015

Monday, June 28, 2021

Elder Marvin J. Ashton on the blessing of true friends

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994) served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994 at age 78.
"A friend in the true sense is not a person who passively nods approval of our conduct or encourages improper behavior. A friend is a person who cares. When we lose someone who cares about us, we lose one of our most valuable assets. An Arabian proverb helps us:
"'A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.'
"A friend is a priceless possession because a true friend is one who is willing to take us the way we are but is able to leave us better than he found us. We are poor when we lose friends because generally they are willing to reprove, admonish, love, encourage, and guide for our best good. A friend lifts the heavy heart, says the encouraging word, and assists in supplying our daily needs. As friends we will make ourselves available without delay to those who need us."
- Marvin J. Ashton, "It's No Fun Being Poor," BYU Devotional, 30 March 1982
Click here to read the full talk
As we consider those we interact with, most of us can relate to Elder Ashton's description. We can identify when someone has filled the role of a "friend in the true sense" by their caring attitude, willingness to forgive or correct, and encouraging spirit.

A better question to ponder is, have I been that kind of friend to others? Do I demonstrate real care for those I associate closely with? Do I seek out opportunities to lift and encourage, to forgive freely and completely, and to be "available without delay" to supply needs?

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 6, 2015

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on becoming more Christlike through mortal challenges

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Mortality presents us with numerous opportunities to become more Christlike: first, by coping successfully with those of life's challenges which are 'common to man[kind]' (1 Cor. 10:13). In addition, there are also our customized trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera. If endured well now, 'all these things' can be for our good and can 'greatly enlarge the soul,' including an enlarged capacity for joy (D&C 122:7; D&C 121:42). Meek suffering often does the excavating necessary for that enlarging! My admiration goes to my many spiritual superiors who so exemplify for us all. In the world to come, to these, the most faithful, our generous Father will give 'all that [He] hath' (D&C 84:38). Brothers and sisters, there isn't any more! ... 
"Christ paid such an enormous, enabling price for us! Will we not apply His Atonement in order to pay the much smaller price required for personal progress? (see Mosiah 4:2). Being valiant in our testimony of Jesus, therefore, includes being valiant in our efforts to live more as He lived (see D&C 76:79)." 
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ," General Conference October 1997
Click here to read the full article

When Elder Maxwell gave this marvelous talk, he had recently been undergoing treatment for cancer and appeared to be in remission; he talked during his message of the "delay en route" that he had been given, an opportunity for some continued experiences in mortality that would enable him to become further refined and perfected. The talk included many suggestions of ways the Savior's experience of the Atonement can be personally applied in our lives and experiences. The entire message is very powerful and much recommended.

In this excerpt, Elder Maxwell focuses on how the challenges of mortality can be used to "become more Christlike." Those challenges are often very "personalized" to each one of us, and can include things we sometimes don't put in this category, "trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera." What an interesting list! For each of these and many more. Elder Maxwell encourages "meek suffering" (a beautiful, profound phrase) that will enable our souls to be greatly enlarged.

I love the concept that a soul enlarged through trials has "an enlarged capacity for joy." As our soul grows, so does our potential for the greatest blessings. And in the end, we receive those blessings as we "apply His Atonement" in our personal lives.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 8, 2015

Saturday, June 26, 2021

President Harold B. Lee on the happiest years of life

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"I recall the many times out at stake conference we always have the returned missionaries, if there are any, report, and almost without exception these boys say, 'They were the happiest years of my life.' Maybe you've heard that expression. Maybe some of you have said that.
"Why were they the happiest years of their lives? Well, they had probably been 'feeding' on some things that made them happy. They had been giving unselfish service.  They weren't concerned about the paycheck. They weren't concerned about the clock. They were giving of themselves. They were going beyond the call of duty. They were rendering a meritorious service, and the net result was that they were happy and satisfied with what they had done.
"But if I see that same missionary twenty years from now, and he still tells me, now having been married, having a family, and having held some high position in the Church or community, that his two years in the mission field were the happiest years in his life, I'll say, 'What in the world have you been feeding on these last twenty years that you haven't been happier?' Experience, training, and development should have increased one's capacity for happiness, and the last years, immediately preceding, should have been the happiest years. If he's been filling up each day the best he could, so that at day's close he could kneel down and witness before his Heavenly Father that whatever has come to his hand that day he has done to the best of his ability, then I know he'll be a happy man."
- Harold B. Lee, "What Men and Women Are Tomorrow Depends upon What You Learn Today," BYU Devotional, March 12, 1952; see THBL p. 178
Click here to listen to this full talk

A recent commercial movie used the title "The Best Two Years" to refer to that traditional description of the mission experience. Part of what makes a mission such a joyful time is that total focus on blessing the lives of others.  When the mission ends, it's easy to forget those things in the necessities of our ongoing daily lives. And truly, we can't neglect the more "temporal" aspects of  earning a living or getting an education. But they must be kept in perspective.

President Lee uses an interesting expression — what are we "feeding on" from day to day? What are the motivating forces, the things that help determine our actions from day to day? Are we driven by a paycheck and timeclock, or by the ability and opportunity to give and serve? That makes all the difference.

It's sobering to evaluate our lives in the quest for happiness. President Lee suggests that the growth that comes with maturity and passing years should also result in greater happiness. The best two years should always be the most recent ones!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
Mrch 5, 2015

Friday, June 25, 2021

President Howard W. Hunter on thoughts of Jesus

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.
"I have chosen for my brief text this morning the words of an ancient and sacred hymn, which are attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux and estimated to be nearly nine hundred years old. With the rest of the Christian world, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sing reverently:
   Jesus, the very thought of thee
   With sweetness fills my breast;
   But sweeter far thy face to see
   And in thy presence rest.
   (Hymns, 1985, no. 141.) 
"...we wonder if thoughts of Jesus, which 'with sweetness [fill our] breast,' ought not to be far more frequent and much more constant in all times and seasons of our lives. How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be? 
"For example, how much of a normal day, a working week, or a fleeting month is devoted to 'Jesus, the very thought of thee'? Perhaps for some of us, not enough. 
"Surely life would be more peaceful, surely marriages and families would be stronger, certainly neighborhoods and nations would be safer and kinder and more constructive if more of the gospel of Jesus Christ 'with sweetness' could fill our breasts. 
"Unless we pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts, I wonder what hope we have to claim that greater joy, that sweeter prize: someday his loving 'face to see / And in [his] presence rest.'" 
- Howard W. Hunter, "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee," General Conference April 1993
Click here to read the full talk

President Hunter had such a gentle approach to the Gospel and its application. Feeling the inviting message in the opening phrase of a beautiful hymn, he wonders if our thoughts of Jesus should be more frequent, even constant. That's a kind way of saying we are usually too distracted by the things of the world and not focused on what matters most. He challenges us to evaluate ourselves to see if our minds are centered where they should be as disciples of Jesus Christ. The promises are sure for those who understand what it means to allow Him to fill our thoughts and lives:

Certainly we do need to "pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts." And by the way, the full text of that tender hymn bears pondering.

A portrait of the Savior by Jon McNaughton
Jesus, the very thought of thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see
And in thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the mem'ry find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of ev'ry contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!

Jesus, our only joy be thou,
As thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now,
And thru eternity.

("Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee," original Latin text attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, ca. 1091-1153; translated by Edward Caswall, 1814-1878.)
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 4, 2015

Thursday, June 24, 2021

President Spencer W. Kimball on the paradox of service

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"A striking personality and good character is achieved by practice, not merely by thinking it. Just as a pianist masters the intricacies of music through hours and weeks of practice, so mastery of life is achieved by the ceaseless practice of mechanics which make up the art of living. Daily unselfish service to others is one of the rudimentary mechanics of the successful life. 'For whosoever will save his life,' the Galilean said, 'shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' (Matthew 16:25.) What a strange paradox this! And yet one needs only to analyze it to be convinced of its truth....
"Only when you lift a burden, God will lift your burden. Divine paradox this! The man who staggers and falls because his burden is too great can lighten that burden by taking on the weight of another's burden. You get by giving, but your part of giving must be given first."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "The Abundant Life," commencement at Safford, AZ, High School, 1939; see TSWK pp. 250-51

It's particularly compelling when you hear or read a sermon preached by someone who exemplifies the qualities being described. That is certainly the case when President Kimball talked about "The Abundant Life" and how it includes service, commitment, a life-long demonstration of practice, and faithful endurance. Noble character doesn't just appear; it requires effort, practice, and training — particularly "daily unselfish service":

President Kimball had much personal insight into both giving and receiving service. The paradox of gaining strength by taking on greater burdens is a key insight into how we best cope with the challenges of this life.

I love the insights, invitations, and the urging of this gentle and inspired prophet of God!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 3, 2015

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

President Gordon B. Hinckley on temple attendance

President Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"I hope that everyone gets to the temple on a regular basis. I hope your children over 12 years of age have the opportunity of going to the temple to be baptized for the dead. If we are a temple-going people, we will be a better people, we will be better fathers and husbands, we will be better wives and mothers. I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you. Now, please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord's house and thereby partake of all of the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there." 
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Lima Peru fireside, Nov. 9, 1996; see TGBH 624

President Hinckley loved the temple and had a great vision of its importance. One of the great efforts of his ministry and leadership was to build temples all around the world, bringing them close to the people. This quote reflects the parallel desire to bring the people to the temple. The service that is rendered is so eternally important; but the blessings that come are also a focus of the message, as we are promised that our abilities to function in our God-given roles will be enhanced. But in order to claim those blessings, we must attend the temple! President Hinckley urges us to be there in order to claim the blessings that will surely follow.

I love the quiet assurance in President Hinckley's message, and have felt it confirmed in my own life.

When a prophet pleads with the people—"please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord's house"—we should not hesitate!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 5, 2015

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

President Wilford Woodruff on the testimony of the Holy Ghost

Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) was called as an apostle in 1839 by Joseph Smith, and sustained as the 4th president of the Church in 1889.  He served until his death in 1898 at age 91.
"What is the greatest testimony any man or woman can have as to this being the work of God? I will tell you what is the greatest testimony I have ever had, the most sure testimony, that is the testimony of the Holy Ghost, the testimony of the Father and the Son. We may have the ministration of angels; we may be wrapt in the visions of heaven—these things as testimonies are very good, but when you receive the Holy Ghost, when you receive the testimony of the Father and the Son, it is a true principle to every man on earth, it deceives no man, and by that principle you can learn and understand the mind of God. 
"Revelation has been looked upon by this Church, as well as by the world, as something very marvelous. What is revelation? The testimony of the Father and Son. How many of you have had revelation? How many of you have had the Spirit of God whisper unto you—the still small voice. I would have been in the spirit world a great many years ago, if I had not followed the promptings of the still small voice. These were the revelations of Jesus Christ, the strongest testimony a man or a woman can have. I have had many testimonies since I have been connected with this Church and kingdom. I have been blessed at times with certain gifts and graces, certain revelations and ministrations; but with them all I have never found anything that I could place more dependence upon than the still small voice of the Holy Ghost." 
- Wilford Woodruff, discourse at the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, July 3, 1880; see JD 21:195-6
Click here to read the full talk

What an interesting insight this is! To have experiences like the ministration of angels, or to be wrapped up in the very visions of heaven are "very good"; but the greatest testimony of all, the most sure testimony, the principle that will lead us to "learn and understand the mind of God" is the simple witness of the Holy Ghost, the "still small voice" testifying of the Father and the Son.

President Woodruff did indeed know whereof he spoke. He had many opportunities in his life to have visions and sacred experiences. But he also knew what it was to be sensitive to gentle promptings, and had many miraculous experiences because of his sensitivity to those promptings. And those are the revelations of heaven that he most prized. How important it must be for us to learn to hear those witnesses!

I'm particularly impressed by the phrase, "by that principle you can learn and understand the mind of God." That's more of a treasure than it may appear to be at first glance. If we truly come to understand His mind and will, we will never doubt, never question. We will comprehend so much more of the events of the world, and in particular, the challenges in our own life. We will see as He sees and understand as He does; what a critical step in becoming like Him. And it starts with a still, small voice.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 1, 2015

Monday, June 21, 2021

Elder David A. Bednar on prayer on behalf of others

Elder David A. Bednar (1952- ) was sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2004.
"Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.... 
"Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful." 
- David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", General Conference October 2008
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Bednar describes what is somewhat of a progression of the maturity of our communication with Heavenly Father. We ask for blessings and help in our own lives — and that is "good and proper." Learning to express more gratitude can aid in the effectiveness of our communication. But the importance of awareness of those around us is the great insight. When we pray "earnestly" for others, our prayers can take on a greater power and effectiveness.

Likewise, it's important that those around us hear us pray in these ways. Family members should "feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires." I think it blesses the faith of others to hear prayers on their behalf! What a good reminder about how to bless those who matter most to us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 19, 2015

Sunday, June 20, 2021

President Gordon B. Hinckley on the responsibility of fathers

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"Many years ago President Stephen L. Richards, then a Counselor in the First Presidency, speaking from this pulpit made an eloquent plea to put father back at the head of the family. I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as the head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to the God of heaven, who is our Eternal Father....
"With the obligation to beget goes the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth. Yours is the power and the responsibility to preside in a home where there is peace and security, love and harmony."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go," General Conference October 1993
Click here to read the full talk
President Hinckley re-issues a "plea" shared by one of his predecessors "to put father back at the head of the family." His plea is to the fathers themselves, not to any others who might have displaced them, saying they have a "basic and inescapable responsibility" to lead, and to provide for needs:

That's quite a list of responsibilities! President Hinckley shares the wonderful vision of "the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth." What a great need that is, today more than ever, as so many forces assail home and family. But the reminder of how is also critical: not as a dictator, not expressing inappropriate dominion. The leadership of a true father is based on love and righteous understanding.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
June 16, 2015

Friday, June 18, 2021

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on being grateful during any circumstances

President Uchtdorf (1940- ) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 until 2018.
"We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. 
"This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. 
"When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ's Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven's embrace. 
"We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain? 
"Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges. 
"This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind." 
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances," General Conference April 2014
Click here to read the full address

I think the trait President Uchtdorf describes is one of the hardest things for many people to do. It's the "no matter what" that is so challenging.

How do you truly transcend anything that is happening, surpassing "disappointment, discouragement, and despair" in order to find "gentle peace" amid tribulation?

But here is the key: learning to see, "through the eyes of faith", what lies "beyond" the current difficulty. This kind of deep, faith-filled gratitude is what will sustain us, even heal us, through all those difficulties of life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 18, 2015

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Elder Robert D. Hales on waiting upon the Lord

Elder Robert D. Hales (August 24, 1932-October 1, 2017) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we 'wait upon the Lord' (Psalm 37:9; 123:2; Isaiah 8:17; 40:31; 2 Nephi 18:17). Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, 'all these things shall [be for our] experience, and... [our] good' (D&C 122:7). 
"Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? Won't all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, 'O God, where art thou?' (D&C 121:1). Yes! When a spouse dies, a companion will wonder. When financial hardship befalls a family, a father will ask. When children wander from the path, a mother and father will cry out in sorrow. Yes, 'weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning' (Psalm 30:5). Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying, 'Thy will be done' (Matthew 6:10; 3 Nephi 13:10; see also Matthew 26:39). 
"What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end." 
- Robert D. Hales, "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done," General Conference October 2011; Click here to read the full talk

I've always been intrigued by the phrase "wait upon the Lord." Sometimes we view it as the long, seemingly unending, sometimes agonizing period that we endure as we struggle through a challenge or difficulty, until finally relief comes.

Elder Hales helps give a perspective that will bless those who understand it. There will be periods of waiting and enduring in all of our lives, as "mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son." That test could never occur if there were immediate relief, instant blessings, constant deliverance.

But it's the nature of the waiting that is the key.  Waiting isn't an activity of passive endurance. It's an active process we engage in, during which some of our greatest development and growth can occur. It's the time when the greatest spiritual gifts and virtues often come into play. If we remember this, we will be doing much more than enduring passively. Waiting "upon the Lord" becomes waiting "with the Lord."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 15, 2015
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