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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