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This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. It is the 151st post, and we’re covering the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1981 General Conference.
Elder Robert D. Hales’ talk, Examples from the Life of a Prophet, is a great reminder that righteousness is not a hardship prophylactic.
The story of Job in the Old Testament relates three of the great tests we all should be prepared to face at some period in our lives. First, temporal setbacks. Job lost all he owned. Second, physical illness that will test our faith and testimony. And third, depression.
Setbacks, illness, and depression. These are not anomalies or punishments. They are—in differing degrees—the common lot of all of us. The rest of the talk is an inspiring portrait of the resilience and dedication of President Kimball, but the lessons are applicable for all of us, particularly that “by overcoming pain and adversity, we can cleanse our souls and strengthen our faith and testimony in Jesus Christ.” Suffering is not something to seek out, but it is something that—when encountered—can still be turned for our good.
I was also struck by Elder Larsen’s talk, The Strength of the Kingdom Is Within. In it, he taught that the power of the Church doesn’t come from any of the statistics we track. Membership, growth, buildings, none of that matters as much as “the quality of the lives of its members.” Even more, “power is not equated…with outward routine compliance with prescribed performances.” It’s not about the checklist, folks. The checklist cannot save you. Instead:
It is found in those quiet uncharted acts of love, obedience, and Christian service which may never come to the attention of official leadership, but which emulate the ministry of the Lord himself.
Or, as Elder Komatus said in The Light of the Gospel,
The Lord forgives; his true followers also forgive. The hand of friendship is outstretched; the sinner repents; the circle of charity is complete.
These are rules for discipleship. Forgive. Pay attention to the little things, the “uncharted acts of love.” Expect suffering to come from time to time and allow yourself to be refined by it.