“Come What May, and Love It”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

All photos © 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

 When I was young I loved playing sports and have many fond memories of those days. But not all of them are pleasant. I remember one day after my football team lost a tough game; I came home feeling discouraged. My mother was there. She listened to my sad story. She taught her children to trust in themselves and each other, not blame others for their misfortunes, and to give their best effort in everything they attempted.

When we fell down, she expected us to pick ourselves up and get going again. So the advice my mother gave to me then wasn’t altogether unexpected. It has stayed with me all my life.

“Joseph,” she said, “Come what may, and love it.”

I have often reflected on that counsel.

I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet, in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wise and happier as a result.

There may be some who think that General Authorities rarely experience pain, suffering, or distress. If only that were true. While every man and woman on this stand today has experienced an abundant measure of joy, each also has drunk deeply from the cup of disappointment, sorrow, and loss. The Lord in His wisdom does not shield anyone from grief or sadness.

For me, the Lord has opened the windows of heaven and showered blessings upon me and my family beyond my ability to express. Yet like everyone else, there have been times in my life when it seemed that the heaviness of my heart might be greater than I could bear. During those times I think back to those tender days of my youth when great sorrows came at the losing end of a football game.

How little I knew then of what awaited me in later years. But whenever my steps led through seasons of sadness and sorrow, my mother’s words often came back to me: “Come what may, and love it.”

How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t-at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which, in turn, can lead towards times of great happiness.

The Ministry of Angels
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve

From the beginning and down through the dispensations God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children.Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times. When in Lehi’s dream he found himself in a frightening place, “a dark and dreary waste,” as he described it, he was met by an angel, “a man.dressed in a white robe;.he spake unto me,” Lehi said, “and bade me follow him.” Lehi did follow him to safety and ultimately to the path of salvation.

In the course of life all of us spend time in “dark and dreary” places, circumstances of sorrow or fear or discouragement. Our present day is filled with global distress over financial crises, energy problems, terrorist attacks, and natural calamities. These translate into individual and family concerns not only about homes in which to live and food available to eat, but also about the ultimate safety and well-being of our children and the latter-day prophecies about our planet.

More serious than these-and sometimes related to them-are matters of ethical, moral and spiritual decay seen in populations large and small, at home and abroad. But I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the World Himself. Matthew records in his gospel that after Satan had tempted Christ in the wilderness “angels came and ministered unto him.” Even the Son of God, a God Himself, had need for heavenly comfort during His sojourn in mortality. And so such ministrations will be to the righteous until the end of time. As Mormon said to his son, Moroni , who would one day be an angel:

“.Has the day of miracles ceased?

“Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for.it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; for behold, they are subject unto [Christ], to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mine in every form of godliness.”

I ask everyone within the sound of my voice to take heart, be filled with faith, and remember the Lord has said He would “fight [our] battles,.[our] children’s battles, and [the battles of our] children’s children.” What do we do to merit such a defense? We are to “search diligently, pray always, and be believing. [Then] all things shall work together for [our] good, if [we] walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted.” The latter days are not a time to fear and tremble. They are a time to be believing and remember our covenants.

Even a Child Can Understand
Gerald Causse
Of the Seventy

Joseph Smith declared, “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6). He added, “The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation.and everyone that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned.” This knowledge is founded on understanding the nature of God and Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation that they have prepared to allow us to return to their presence, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)

The principle of knowledge has often been misinterpreted by men. The glory of God is intelligence (D&C 93:36). It surpasses all we can ever understand with our intellectual capacities.

People who try to find God sometimes think that they have to look for Him in intellectually complicated concepts.

However, our Heavenly Father is always available to us.


 

He adapts to our level of understanding. “If He comes to a little child, he will adapt Himself to the language and capacity of a little child.”

God would indeed be unjust if the gospel was only accessible to an intellectual elite. In His goodness, He has ensured that the truths regarding God are understandable to all his children, whatever their level of education or intellectual faculty.

In reality, the fact that a principle can be understood even by a child is proof of its power. President John Taylor said, “It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it.” Far from diminishing its impact, purity and simplicity of expression, it allows the Holy Spirit to witness with greater certainty to the hearts of men.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus constantly compared the simplicity and authenticity of his teachings to the tortuous logic of the Pharisees and other doctors of the law. They tried time and again to test Him with sophisticated questions, but His replies were always crystal clear and child-like in their simplicity.

The Way
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

 

Jesus Christ is the Way. He is Light and Life, Bread and Water, the Beginning and the End, the Resurrection and the Life, the Savior of the world, the Truth, and the Way.

There is only one Way to happiness and fulfillment. He is the Way. Every other way, any other way, whatever other way is madness.

He offers a well of living water. Either we drink and never thirst more, or we don’t and foolishly remain thirsty still.

He is the Bread of Life. Either we eat and hunger no more, or we don’t and foolishly remain weak and hungry still.

He is the Light of the world. Either we follow Him and see clearly, or we don’t and foolishly remain blind and in darkness still.

He is the Resurrection and the Life. He said: “.the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Either we learn of Him and have life more abundantly or we don’t and foolishly remain dead still.

He is the Savior of the world. Either we accept the blessings of His atonement and are made clean and pure, worthy to have His spirit or we don’t and foolishly remain alone and filthy still.

He is the Savior of the world. Either we accept the blessings of His atonement and are made clean and pure, worthy to have His spirit or we don’t and foolishly remain alone and filthy still.

Only God can sustain us, only He can cause our heart to beat and give us breath, only He can preserve and protect us, only He can give us strength to bear up the burdens of life, only He can give us power, knowledge, peace and joy, only He can forgive our sins, only He can heal us, only He can change us and forge a godly soul, only He can bring us back into the presence of the Father, and He will do all of that and much more, if we but remember Him to keep His commandments. What then shall we do? We will remember Him to keep his commandments. It is the only intelligent thing to do.

“Come to Zion”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

 

Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, “the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).

.Throughout history, the Lord has measured societies and individuals by how well they cared for the poor. He has said, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare, yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell being in torment” (D&C 104:17-18). Furthermore He declares, “In your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld” (D&C 70:14).

We control the disposition of our means and resources, but we account to God for this stewardship over earthly things.We might ask ourselves, living as many of us do in societies that worship possessions and pleasures, whether we are remaining aloof from covetousness and the lust to acquire more and more of this world’s goods. Materialism is just one more manifestation of the idolatry and pride that characterize Babylon. Perhaps we can learn to be content with what is sufficient for our needs. “The Apostle Paul warned Timothy against people who suppose “that gain is godliness” (1 Timothy 6:5). Said he, “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we carry nothing out. And having good and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:5, 7-8).

In much of the world, we are entering upon unsettled economic times. Let us look after one another the very best we can. I remember the story of a Vietnamese family that fled Saigon in 1975 and ended up living in a small mobile home in Provo, Utah. A young man in the refugee family became a home teaching companion to a Brother Johnson who lived nearby with his large family. The boy related the following.

One day Brother Johnson noticed that our family had no kitchen table. He appeared the next day with an odd-looking but very functional table that fit nicely against the trailer wall across from the kitchen sink and counters. I say odd-looking because two of the table legs matched the tabletop and two did not. Also, several small wooden pegs stuck out along one edge of the worn surface.

Soon we used this unique table daily for food preparation and for eating some quick meals. We still ate our family meals while we sat on the floor.in true Vietnamese fashion.

One evening I stood inside Brother Johnson’s front door as I waited for him before a home teaching appointment. There in the nearby kitchen-I was surprised to see it-was a table practically identical to the one they had given to my family. The only difference was that where our table had pegs, the Johnsons’ table had holes! I then realized that, seeing our need, this charitable man had cut his kitchen table in half and had built two new legs for each half.

It was obvious that the Johnson family could not fit around this small piece of furniture-they probably didn’t fit comfortably around it when it was whole.

Throughout my life this kind act has been a powerful reminder of true giving (Son Quang Le and Beth Ellis Le, “Two-of-a-Kind Table,” Ensign, July 2004, 63).


Pray Always
Elder David A. Bednar

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

 

Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude. During our service at Brigham Young University-Idaho, Sister Bednar and I frequently hosted General Authorities in our home. Our family learned an important lesson about meaningful prayer as we knelt to pray one evening with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Earlier in the day Sister Bednar and I had been informed about the unexpected death of a dear friend, and our immediate desire was to pray for the surviving spouse and children. As I invited my wife to offer the prayer, the member of the Twelve, unaware of the tragedy, graciously suggested that in the prayer Sister Bednar express only appreciation for blessings received and ask for nothing. His counsel was similar to Alma’s instruction to the members of the ancient Church “to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:39). Given the unexpected tragedy, requesting blessings for our friends initially seemed to us more urgent than expressing thanks.

Sister Bednar responded in faith to the direction she received. She thanked Heavenly Father for meaningful and memorable experiences with this dear friend. She communicated sincere gratitude for the Holy Ghost as the Comforter and for the gifts of the Spirit that enable us to face adversity and to serve others. Most importantly, she expressed appreciation for the plan of salvation, for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for His Resurrection, and for the ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel, which make is possible for families to be together forever.

Our family learned from that experience a great lesson about the power of thankfulness in meaningful prayer. Because of and through that prayer, our family was blessed with inspiration about a number of issues that were pressing upon our minds and stirring in our hearts. We learned that our gratefulness for the plan of happiness and for the Savior’s mission of salvation provided needed reassurance and strengthened our confidence that all would be well with our dear friends. We also received insights concerning the things about which we should pray and appropriate ask in faith.

The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few if any requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes the Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon; these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people. Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire. The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity.

As we strive to make our prayers more meaningful, we should remember that “in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments (D&C 59:21). Let me recommend that periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts.