To My Grandchildren
President Henry B. Eyring
First Counselor in the First Presidency
Heavenly Father has perfect foresight, knows each of us, and knows our future. He knows what difficulties we will pass through. He sent His Son to suffer that He would know how to succor us in all our trials.
We know that Heavenly Father has spirit children in this world who sometimes choose sin and great unhappiness. That is why He sent His Firstborn to be our Redeemer, the greatest act of love in all creation. That is why we must expect that it will take the help of God and time to polish us, to prepare us for eternal life, to live with our Father.
Life in families will test us. That is one of God’s purposes in giving us the gift of mortality-to strengthen us by passing through tests. That will be especially true in family life where we will find great joy and great sorrow and challenges which may at times seem beyond our power to endure them.
President George Q. Cannon said this about how God has prepared you and me and our children for the tests we will face:
“There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save, and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God, and that He has actually given His angels-invisible beings of power and might-charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”
What President Cannon taught is true. You will need that assurance as I have needed it and depended on it.
I have prayed with faith that someone I loved would seek and feel the power of the Atonement. I have prayed with faith that human angels would come to their aid, and they came.
God has devised means to save each of His children.
No Other Gods
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The question posed by the Second Commandment is “what is our ultimate priority?” Are we bowing down to and serving priorities or gods ahead of the God we profess to worship? Have we forgotten the Savior who taught that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (see John 14:15)? If so, our priorities have been turned upside down by the spiritual apathy and undisciplined appetites so common in our day.
For Latter-day Saints, God’s commandments are based on and inseparable from God’s plan for His children-the great plan of salvation. This plan, sometimes called the “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), explains our origin and destiny as children of God-where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. It explains the purpose of creation and the conditions of mortality, including God’s commandments, the need for a Savior, and the vital role of mortal and eternal families. If we Latter-day Saints, who have been given this knowledge, do not establish our priorities in accord with this plan, we are in danger of serving other gods.
Knowledge of God’s plan for His children gives Latter-day Saints a unique perspective on marriage and family. We are correctly known as a family-centered church. Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents, and our highest aspiration is to attain the fullness of eternal exaltation, which we know to be possible only in a family relationship. We know that the marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of God’s plan. Only this marriage will provide the approved setting for mortal birth and to prepare family members for eternal life. We look on marriage and the bearing and nurturing of children as part of God’s plan and a sacred duty of those given the opportunity to do so. We believe that the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity.
Be Ye Converted
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson
Of the Young Women General Presidency
I would like to share a conversion story from my family history about another of my heroes. Her name is Agnes Hoggan and she and her husband joined the Church in Scotland in 1861. Suffering great persecution in their homeland, they immigrated to America with their children. Several years later, Agnes became a widow with eight children to support and worked hard to keep them fed and clothed. Her 12-year-old daughter, Isabelle, was lucky enough to find employment as a servant to a wealthy, non-LDS family.
Isabelle lived in their large home and helped look after their younger children. In exchange for her services, a small wage was paid each week to her mother. She was soon accepted as a member of the family and began to enjoy many of the same privileges such as dance lessons, beautiful clothing, and attending the theatre. This arrangement continued for four years, until the family for whom Isabelle worked was transferred to another state. They had grown so fond of Isabelle that they approached her mother, Agnes, and asked for permission to legally adopt her.
They promised they would provide her with a good education, see that she married well, and make her an heir to their estate with their own children. They would also continue to make payments to Agnes.
This struggling widow and mother had a hard decision to make, but she did not hesitate for a moment. Listen to the words of her granddaughter, written many years later: “If her love had not compelled her to say no, she had an even better reason-she had come all the way from Scotland and had gone through tribulations and trials for the Gospel, and she did not intend, if humanly possible, to let a child of hers lose what she had come so far to gain.”[Endnote] The wealthy family used every possible argument and Isabelle herself, cried and begged to be allowed to go, but Agnes remained firm. As you can imagine, 16-year-old Isabelle felt as if her life was ruined. Isabelle Hoggan is my great-grandmother [mother’s father’s mother] and I am most grateful for the testimony and conviction that burned so brightly in her mother’s heart, which did not allow her to trade her daughter’s membership in the Church for worldly promises. Today, hundreds of her descendants who enjoy the blessings of membership in the Church are the beneficiaries of Agnes’ deep-seated faith and conversion to the gospel.
Young friends, we live in perilous times and the decisions which you are called upon to make on a daily, or even hourly, basis have eternal consequences. The decisions you make in your daily life will determine what happens to you later. If you do not yet have a firmly-rooted testimony and conviction that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, now is the time to do what it takes to gain that conviction. To delay making the effort required to earn that kind of conviction can be dangerous to your soul.
True conversion is more than merely having a knowledge of gospel principles, and implies even more than just having a testimony of those principles. It is possible to have a testimony of the gospel without living it. Being truly converted means we are acting upon what we believe and allowing it to create “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts.”[Endnote] In the booklet True to the Faith, we learn that “Conversion is a process, not an event. You become converted as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior.”[Endnote] It takes time, effort, and work. My great-great grandmother [mother’s father’s mother’s mother] had a strong conviction that the gospel was more important for her children than all that the world had to offer in the way of wealth and comfort, because she had sacrificed, endured, and lived the gospel. Her conversion came through living the principles of the gospel and sacrificing for them.
The Strength to Endure
Elder Richard J. Maynes
Presidency of the Seventy
To play basketball successfully, you need to get into good shape. Being in good physical condition comes at a price, and that price is dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. Spiritual endurance also comes at a price. It is the same price: dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.
A testimony, like your body, needs to be in shape if you want it to endure. So how do we keep our testimonies in shape? We cannot get our bodies into good basketball shape by simply watching basketball on television. Similarly, we won’t be able to get our testimonies in shape by simply watching general conference on television. We need to study and learn the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then we must do our very best to live them. That is how we become disciples of Jesus Christ, and that is how we build an enduring testimony.
When we face adversity in life and our desire is to emulate the attributes of Jesus Christ, it is essential to be spiritually prepared. Being spiritually prepared means we have developed spiritual stamina or strength-we will be in good shape spiritually. We will be in such good shape spiritually that we will consistently choose the right. We will become immovable in our desire and ability to live the gospel. As an anonymous author once said, “You must become the rock the river cannot wash away.”
Because we face challenges every day, it is important that we work on our spiritual stamina every day. When we develop spiritual stamina, the false traditions of the world, as well as our personal daily challenges, will have little negative impact on our ability to endure in righteousness.
“Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ”
Elder Richard G. Scott
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Each of us has had times in our lives when we have made poor choices. We are all in desperate need of the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Each of us must repent of any rebellion. “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” He cannot because He knows what it takes to become like Him.
Many of us have allowed weakness to develop in our character. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we, like the Ammonites, can build spiritual fortifications between ourselves and any past mistakes that Satan attempts to exploit. The spiritual protections built around the Ammonite fathers blessed and strengthened themselves, their families, their country, and future generations. The same can be true with us.
So how do we build these eternal fortifications? The first step must be sincere, thorough, and complete repentance. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ each of us can become clean and the burden of our rebellion will be lifted.
Remember repentance is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future.
Father in Heaven has provided us tools that help to build the fortifications between our vulnerabilities and our faithfulness. Consider the following suggestions:
- Make covenants and receive ordinances for yourself. Then steadily and consistently work to provide ordinances in the temple for your own ancestors.
- Share the gospel with non-member or less active family members or friends. Sharing these truths can bring a renewed enthusiasm into your life.
- Serve faithfully in all church callings, especially home teaching and visiting teaching assignments. Don’t just be a 15-minutes-a-month home or visiting teacher. Rather, reach out to each individual member of the family, get to know them personally. Be a real friend. Through acts of kindness, show them how very much you care for each of them.
- Most importantly, serve the members of your family. Make the spiritual development of your spouse and children a high priority. Be attentive to the things you can do to help each one. Give freely of your time and attention.
In each of these suggestions there is common theme: fill your life with service to others. As you lose your life in the service of Father in Heaven’s children, Satan’s temptations lose power in your life.
Because your Father in Heaven loves you profoundly, the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes that strength possible.
“I Will Not Fail Thee Nor Forsake Thee”
President Thomas S. Monson
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Brothers and sisters, it may be safely assumed that no person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and sorrow, nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil and misery.
When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.
The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure. A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish? Some do falter as they find themselves unable to rise above their challenges. To finish involves enduring to the very end of life itself.
As we ponder the events that can befall all of us, we can say, with Job of old: “Man is born unto trouble.” Job was a “perfect and upright” man who “feared God, and eschewed evil.” Pious in his conduct, prosperous in his fortune, Job was to face a test which could have destroyed anyone. Shorn of his possessions, scorned by his friends, afflicted by his suffering, shattered by the loss of his family, he was urged to “curse God and die.” He resisted this temptation and declared from the depths of his noble soul: “Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” “I know that my redeemer liveth.” Job kept the faith. Will we do likewise as we face those challenges which will be ours?
Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome.
The history of the Church in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times, is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer. The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head on, and to emerge victorious.
From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Such comfort is priceless.