I found out that if you download the lds ap on your phone you can listen to talks in the ensign, conference talks, scriptures. I have been struggling with my Testimony. I sometimes feel like I don't feel the truth of the Gospel and I have been trying to get that Faith back. I love that I can listen to the talks on my phone. I have started listening to talks whenever I'm bored or when I'm trying to get to sleep. I feel blessed having it always there. Recently I have found so many talks that relate to me. Here are a few that I have loved.
Mountains to Climb
If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing.
I heard President Spencer W. Kimball, in a session of conference, ask that God would give him mountains to climb. He said: “There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.”1
My heart was stirred, knowing, as I did, some of the challenges and adversity he had already faced. I felt a desire to be more like him, a valiant servant of God. So one night I prayed for a test to prove my courage. I can remember it vividly. In the evening I knelt in my bedroom with a faith that seemed almost to fill my heart to bursting.
Within a day or two my prayer was answered. The hardest trial of my life surprised and humbled me. It provided me a twofold lesson. First, I had clear proof that God heard and answered my prayer of faith. But second, I began a tutorial that still goes on to learn about why I felt with such confidence that night that a great blessing could come from adversity to more than compensate for any cost.
The adversity that hit me in that faraway day now seems tiny compared to what has come since—to me and to those I love. Many of you are now passing through physical, mental, and emotional trials that could cause you to cry out as did one great and faithful servant of God I knew well. His nurse heard him exclaim from his bed of pain, “When I have tried all my life to be good, why has this happened to me?”
You know how the Lord answered that question for the Prophet Joseph Smith in his prison cell:
“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
“Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”2
There seems to me no better answer to the question of why trials come and what we are to do than the words of the Lord Himself, who passed through trials for us more terrible than we can imagine.
You remember His words when He counseled that we should, out of faith in Him, repent:
“Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”3
You and I have faith that the way to rise through and above trials is to believe that there is a “balm in Gilead”4 and that the Lord has promised, “I will not … forsake thee.”5 That is what President Thomas S. Monson has taught us to help us and those we serve in what seem lonely and overwhelming trials.6
But President Monson has also wisely taught that a foundation of faith in the reality of those promises takes time to build. You may have seen the need for that foundation, as I have, at the bedside of someone ready to give up the fight to endure to the end. If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble.
My purpose today is to describe what I know of how we can lay that unshakable foundation. I do it with great humility for two reasons. First, what I say could discourage some who are struggling in the midst of great adversity and feel their foundation of faith is crumbling. And second, I know that ever-greater tests lie before me before the end of life. Therefore, the prescription I offer you has yet to be proven in my own life through enduring to the end.
As a young man I worked with a contractor building footings and foundations for new houses. In the summer heat it was hard work to prepare the ground for the form into which we poured the cement for the footing. There were no machines. We used a pick and a shovel. Building lasting foundations for buildings was hard work in those days.
It also required patience. After we poured the footing, we waited for it to cure. Much as we wanted to keep the jobs moving, we also waited after the pour of the foundation before we took away the forms.
And even more impressive to a novice builder was what seemed to be a tedious and time-consuming process to put metal bars carefully inside the forms to give the finished foundation strength.
In a similar way, the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life. That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity.
Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith. It can begin in childhood since every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.
Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare the solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built. The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances, and principles.
One of the keys to an enduring faith is to judge correctly the curing time required. That is why I was unwise to pray so soon in my life for higher mountains to climb and greater tests.
That curing does not come automatically through the passage of time, but it does take time. Getting older does not do it alone. It is serving God and others persistently with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength.
Now, I wish to encourage those who are in the midst of hard trials, who feel their faith may be fading under the onslaught of troubles. Trouble itself can be your way to strengthen and finally gain unshakable faith. Moroni, the son of Mormon in the Book of Mormon, told us how that blessing could come to pass. He teaches the simple and sweet truth that acting on even a twig of faith allows God to grow it:
“And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
“For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.
“But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.
“Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.”7
That particle of faith most precious and which you should protect and use to whatever extent you can is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Moroni taught the power of that faith this way: “And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.”8
I have visited with a woman who received the miracle of sufficient strength to endure unimaginable losses with just the simple capacity to repeat endlessly the words “I know that my Redeemer lives.”9 That faith and those words of testimony were still there in the mist that obscured but did not erase memories of her childhood.
I was stunned to learn that another woman had forgiven a person who had wronged her for years. I was surprised and asked her why she had chosen to forgive and forget so many years of spiteful abuse.
She said quietly, “It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I just knew I had to do it. So I did.” Her faith that the Savior would forgive her if she forgave others prepared her with a feeling of peace and hope as she faced death just months after she had forgiven her unrepentant adversary.
She asked me, “When I get there, how will it be in heaven?”
And I said, “I know just from what I have seen of your capacity to exercise faith and to forgive that it will be a wonderful homecoming for you.”
I have another encouragement to those who now wonder if their faith in Jesus Christ will be sufficient for them to endure well to the end. I was blessed to have known others of you who are listening now when you were younger, vibrant, gifted beyond most of those around you, yet you chose to do what the Savior would have done. Out of your abundance you found ways to help and care for those you might have ignored or looked down upon from your place in life.
When hard trials come, the faith to endure them well will be there, built as you may now notice but may have not at the time that you acted on the pure love of Christ, serving and forgiving others as the Savior would have done. You built a foundation of faith from loving as the Savior loved and serving for Him. Your faith in Him led to acts of charity that will bring you hope.
It is never too late to strengthen the foundation of faith. There is always time. With faith in the Savior, you can repent and plead for forgiveness. There is someone you can forgive. There is someone you can thank. There is someone you can serve and lift. You can do it wherever you are and however alone and deserted you may feel.
I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop.
There are reasons for that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there.
My mother fought cancer for nearly 10 years. Treatments and surgeries and finally confinement to her bed were some of her trials.
I remember my father saying as he watched her take her last breath, “A little girl has gone home to rest.”
One of the speakers at her funeral was President Spencer W. Kimball. Among the tributes he paid, I remember one that went something like this: “Some of you may have thought that Mildred suffered so long and so much because of something she had done wrong that required the trials.” He then said, “No, it was that God just wanted her to be polished a little more.” I remember at the time thinking, “If a woman that good needed that much polishing, what is ahead for me?”
If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidance of the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we choose it. And with prophets revealing to us our place in the plan of salvation, we can live with perfect hope and a feeling of peace. We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up.10 And He always keeps His word.
I testify that God the Father lives and that His Beloved Son is our Redeemer. The Holy Ghost has confirmed truth in this conference and will again as you seek it, as you listen, and as you later study the messages of the Lord’s authorized servants, who are here. President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet to the entire world. The Lord watches over you. God the Father lives. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, is our Redeemer. His love is unfailing. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
He Truly Loves Us
Because of the heaven-designed pattern of the family, we more fully understand how our Heavenly Father truly loves each of us equally and fully.
I love being with the full-time missionaries. They are full of faith, hope, and genuine charity. Their missionary experience is like a minilife packaged in 18 to 24 months. They arrive as spiritual infants with a serious appetite to learn, and they leave as mature adults, seemingly ready to conquer any and all challenges placed before them. I also love the devoted senior missionaries, who are full of patience, wisdom, and calm assurance. They bring a gift of stability and love to the youthful energy that surrounds them. Together the young missionaries and the senior couples are a powerful, persevering force for good, which is having a profound effect on their lives and upon those who are touched by their service.
Recently I listened to two of these great young missionaries as they reviewed their experiences and efforts. In that reflective moment they considered the individuals they had contacted that day, some of whom were more responsive than others. As they considered the circumstances, they asked, “How can we help each individual develop a desire to know more about Heavenly Father? How do we help them feel His Spirit? How can we help them know that we love them?”
In my mind’s eye I could see these two young men three or four years after completing their missions. I visualized them as having found their eternal companions and serving in an elders quorum or teaching a group of young men. Now, instead of thinking about their investigators, they were asking the same questions about their quorum members or the young men they were commissioned to nurture. I saw how their missionary experience could be applied as a template for nurturing others throughout the rest of their lives. As this army of righteous disciples return from their missions to the many countries across the earth, they are becoming key contributors in the work of establishing the Church.
The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi might have been pondering the same set of questions as these missionaries when he listened to the response of his sons to the direction and vision he had been given: “And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Nephi 2:12).
Perhaps we have each felt the frustration Lehi experienced with his two eldest sons. As we face a drifting child, an uncommitted investigator, or an unresponsive prospective elder, our hearts swell as Lehi’s did and we ask, how can I help them feel and listen to the Spirit so they are not caught up in worldly distractions? Two scriptures stand out in my mind that can help us find our way through these distractions and feel the power of God’s love.
Nephi gives a key to the door of learning through his own personal experience: “I, Nephi, … having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers” (1 Nephi 2:16).
Awakening the desire to know enables our spiritual capacities to hear the voice of heaven. Finding a way to awaken and nurture that desire is the quest and responsibility of each of us—missionaries, parents, teachers, leaders, and members. As we feel that desire stirring in our hearts, we are prepared to benefit from the learning of the second scripture that I want to mention.
In June of 1831, as calls were being extended to early Church leaders, Joseph Smith was told that “Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations.” To combat this distracting influence, the Lord said that He would give us “a pattern in all things, that [we] may not be deceived” (D&C 52:14).
Patterns are templates, guides, repeating steps, or paths one follows to stay aligned with God’s purpose. If followed, they will keep us humble, awake, and able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit from those voices that distract us and lead us away. The Lord then instructs us, “He that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you” (D&C 52:17).
The blessing of humble prayer, offered with real intent, allows the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts and helps us to remember what we knew before we were born into this mortal experience. As we clearly understand our Heavenly Father’s plan for us, we begin to acknowledge our responsibility to help others learn and understand His plan. Closely tied to helping others remember is the way we personally live the gospel and apply it in our lives. When we actually live the gospel in the pattern taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, our ability to help others increases. The following experience is an example of how this principle can work.
Two young missionaries knocked on a door, hoping to find someone to receive their message. The door opened, and a rather large man greeted them in a less-than-friendly voice: “I thought I told you not to knock on my door again. I warned you before that if you ever came back, it would not be a pleasant experience. Now leave me alone.” He quickly closed the door.
As the elders walked away, the older, more experienced missionary put his arm on the younger missionary’s shoulder to comfort and encourage him. Unknown to them, the man watched them through the window to be sure they understood his message. He fully expected to see them laugh and make light of his curt response to their attempted visit. However, as he witnessed the expression of kindness between the two missionaries, his heart was instantly softened. He reopened the door and asked the missionaries to come back and share their message with him.
It is when we yield to God’s will and live His pattern that His Spirit is felt. The Savior taught, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). This principle of having love one to another and developing our ability to be Christ-centered in how we think, speak, and act is fundamental in becoming disciples of Christ and teachers of His gospel.
Awakening this desire prepares us to look for the promised patterns. Seeking for the patterns leads us to the doctrine of Christ as taught by the Savior and His prophet-leaders. One pattern of this doctrine is to endure to the end: “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:37).
What is the ultimate means by which we can enjoy the gift and power of the Holy Ghost? It is the power that comes by being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It is our love for Him and our fellowman. It is the Savior who defined the pattern of love when He taught us, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
President Gordon B. Hinckley confirmed this principle when he said: “To love the Lord is not just counsel; it is not just well-wishing. It is a commandment. … Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character, of all fidelity to do right” (“Words of the Living Prophet,” Liahona, Dec. 1996, 8; “Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Apr. 1996, 73).
The Father’s plan designated the pattern of the family to help us learn, apply, and understand the power of love. On the day my own family was organized, my sweet Ann and I went to the temple and entered into the covenant of marriage. How much I thought I loved her on that day, but I had only begun to see the vision of love. As each of our children and grandchildren entered into our lives, our love has been expanded to love each of them equally and fully. There is seemingly no end to the expansive capacity to love.
The feeling of love from our Heavenly Father is like a gravitational pull from heaven. As we remove the distractions that pull us toward the world and exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him. Nephi described its impact as “even unto the consuming of [his] flesh” (2 Nephi 4:21). This same power of love caused Alma to sing a “song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26; see also verse 9). It touched Mormon in such a way that he counseled us to “pray … with all the energy of [our] heart” that we might be filled with His love (Moroni 7:48).
Both modern and ancient scripture are full of reminders of Heavenly Father’s eternal love for His children. I am confident that our Heavenly Father’s arms are constantly extended, ever ready to embrace each one of us and say to each one with that quiet, piercing voice, “I love you.”
Because of the heaven-designed pattern of the family, we more fully understand how our Heavenly Father truly loves each of us equally and fully. I testify that it is true. God does know and love us. He has given us a vision of His holy place and called prophets and apostles to teach the principles and the patterns that will bring us back to Him. As we strive to awaken the desire to know in ourselves and in others and as we live the patterns we discover, we will be drawn toward Him. I testify that Jesus is the very Son of God, our Exemplar, our beloved Redeemer, which I express in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Waiting on the Lord, Renewing Our Strength
Most everyone has experienced anxiety or anticipation while waiting for something. As a single adult, I certainly have learned what it means to wait. For this reason Isaiah 40:31 has come to have special meaning for me: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (emphasis added). Many of us dread waiting, but through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord tells us that waiting can actually be a good thing.
In the past I’ve thought of waiting as wasted time, such as when I wait for a plane to take off or wait in line at the grocery store. This kind of waiting requires little action on our part; it’s mostly a matter of biding our time. This type of waiting is also usually paired with frustration and impatience. Consider how you feel when someone you are waiting for is late. By the time the person arrives, you may be so upset that you had to wait that you don’t appreciate the fulfillment of your anticipation.
Of course, this is not the kind of waiting that Isaiah said could “renew [our] strength.” On the contrary, impatient waiting tends to leave us physically and emotionally exhausted. I have been guilty of this kind of waiting too often.
So what kind of waiting was Isaiah describing? The Hebrew word translated as wait also means “hope for” and “anticipate” (Isaiah 40:31, footnote a). To add my own interpretation, I like to think of waiting in terms of a waiter at a restaurant. In this sense, to wait on someone is to serve that person. A good waiter—or server—gives his or her customers excellent care and attention by checking in often, learning their desires, and attending to them. When I adopt this attitude toward the Lord, it adds purpose to the time I spend awaiting a particular blessing. In fact, time seems to pass more quickly when I am diligently working to serve God. Ironically enough, it’s through this work that I “renew [my] strength.”
The same amount of time will pass whether I am squandering it in anger and impatience or using it to serve the Lord and His children. Choosing to “wait upon the Lord”—or viewed another way, to serve Him—yields far more satisfying results. This choice also helps me remember that because Heavenly Father’s greatest desire is to bless His children with what will ultimately help us be happy, He will not only give me what I need, He’ll also give it at the time that is best for me.
Shifting my attitude from one of “just waiting” to “waiting upon the Lord” has shown me that waiting can be a good thing after all. This perspective has opened my eyes to the many gifts Heavenly Father has given me. Most of all, it has given my life renewed strength, purpose, and meaning.
When Good Plans Don’t Work Out
Planning for the future is important, especially for young adults. But what happens when the best-laid plans don’t work out?
Jung Sung Eun of Korea didn’t pass the qualification exam to become a teacher. Tina Roper of Utah, USA, lost a job that she had expected to turn into a career. Todd Schlensker of Ohio, USA, received a spiritual confirmation to marry but saw his engagement come to an end. Alessia Mazzolari (name has been changed) of Italy ended what appeared to be the perfect relationship.
No one likes having to resort to “plan B.” But even when our plans fall through, Heavenly Father does not abandon His children. There are multiple good ways for life to work out. In time, we may even find that the roadblocks that changed our plans gave us needed insight and experience (see D&C 122:7) and led to something better.
Building Character, Not Résumés
Sung Eun had worked hard to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. She explains, “Because I have always tried to do my best in all I do, I have almost always been able to obtain what I hoped and prayed for.” But that didn’t happen when she took the teacher qualification exam. “When I failed it,” she says, “I felt I had lost all my dreams in one day.”
Tina wasn’t initially worried when another company acquired the one she worked for. The new organization promised her a long-term position, so she moved closer to her work with high hopes of an exciting new job. When the company laid her off a few months later, she felt “lost, confused, sad, and quite scared.”
Rather than focus completely on building their résumés, Sung Eun and Tina realized they could also focus on building their character. Both women found comfort through gospel study and prayer.
“The Apostle Paul was a wonderful friend who helped me be patient and continually confront challenges,” says Sung Eun. “He always had a positive attitude and willingly waited for what God had for him, rather than hoping for his own timing.
“I learned something from his example: the period of waiting is not merely the process that we must go through to get what we want. Rather, it is a process by which we become who our Heavenly Father wants us to be through changes we make.”
Tina found that the change she needed most was a shift in perspective. “I was surprised to discover that I had measured my self-worth in worldly ideas of value,” she remembers. “I felt valuable because of my employment and position, which were taken away. I now find my self-worth in the eternal truths that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father and I have divine potential. These truths can never be taken away.”
Both Tina and Sung Eun admit that while building character isn’t always pleasant, the fruits of personal growth are sweet. Sung Eun says, “The year after I failed the teacher qualification exam was not only the most painful and depressing time period, but it was also the most precious. I became more able to truly understand other people’s difficulties and had a desire to help them with real intent and care.”
The examples of Ammon and his brothers in the Book of Mormon showed Tina how the Lord was stretching her faith to help her reach her full potential. “The Lord’s plan was for the Nephites to save their Lamanite brothers instead of using a sword to solve the problem,” she explains. “The sons of Mosiah were given a task that required greater faith, but they were also given a promise that if they bore their afflictions with patience, they would receive success (see Alma 26:27). Being patient is one of my hardest trials because I want to understand my entire plan—but I realized that Heavenly Father’s plan and timing for us will always be the best.”
Keeping the Commandments No Matter What
Todd faced a bright future upon returning from his mission. While attending school, he met a wonderful young woman. After several months of courtship and a spiritual confirmation, Todd proposed and she accepted. They planned their wedding for the end of the summer, and both returned home from school to prepare.
“Three weeks after we said our good-byes at school, she ended our engagement,” Todd recalls. “Heartbroken could not express my feelings strongly enough. There were so many unanswered questions in my mind; it didn’t make sense. I had received a confirmation in the house of the Lord, and now our relationship was over. My testimony had never been tested this hard.
“Unfortunately, for years following my breakup, I couldn’t get past it. I didn’t know how I could ever trust a feeling of confirmation again. I had always trusted in the Lord and tried my best to keep the commandments,” he continues. “It all seemed for naught.”
Alessia also thought that her relationship with a certain young man was meant to be. “Our story was so beautiful that, even though we had the normal difficulties that every couple encounters, we thought the relationship would never end,” she remembers.
When Alessia’s boyfriend left on his mission, the separation was difficult but for a different reason than Alessia had expected. “While he was gone, I began to know myself better. I realized that many things in my life were not yet right and that many times I had hidden behind some silly ideas rather than humble myself and face reality,” she recounts. “I had been living in a kind of fairy tale, as if being in love were enough to make everything turn out right, and often this caused me to overlook the most important things.”
Still, Alessia expected a happy reunion and continued relationship after her boyfriend’s mission. However, upon his return, the couple dated only a short time before breaking up. “It was one of the most painful moments I can remember,” says Alessia.
In their respective experiences, Todd and Alessia both eventually recognized that even though a key relationship in their lives was altered, they couldn’t abandon their obedience and allegiance to the Lord. He became their anchor when everything else was changing and uncertain.
“I didn’t have all the answers to why I got a confirmation to marry someone, and it didn’t happen,” Todd recalls. “But I realized that didn’t matter. What did matter is that I still had faith in Christ, and I was going to use that faith to trust in whatever the Lord had in store for me.”
Alessia knew that completely pledging herself to the Lord would bring her the strength that she needed. “I understood that the moment had arrived for me to decide what kind of person I wanted to be,” she says. “Would I continue to live life halfway, or would I start on the path to becoming a true disciple of Christ? I wanted to know Him deeply, love Him truly, and try to be a better person by obeying all His commandments—not just externally but in my heart with true honesty.”
Developing Hope in the Future and Faith in Christ
After being confronted with unanticipated setbacks, all four of these young adults struggled to find the courage to live in the present and again plan for the future. But they found that their faith in the Lord grew.
Sung Eun remembers that after failing her examination, trying new things became difficult. But then came a crucial discovery: “I realized that the real failure is to dwell on the past and make little effort to try to work things out. I decided that rather than continuing to be sad, I should turn this difficult time into an opportunity to learn. My ability to understand life in general broadened and deepened, and I learned that the end of one thing always brings about the beginning of something else.” She has since retaken and passed the exam and is now “a happy teacher who enjoys spending time with students each day.”
Tina chose to trust that something was waiting for her, even though it was difficult to face an uncertain future. “I decided to reenter school, and there I studied the art and technology field, an area I had desired to become involved in but I did not possess the needed skills,” she explains. “I am ready to start another adventure, a much better one, thanks to the wisdom of my Heavenly Father.”
Todd continued trying to date for six years and worked to develop trust in the Lord. Even when he met women he admired very much, he had to fight to keep his doubts from the past from destroying his hopes for the future. “Finding the determination not to succumb to my doubts of six years was not easy,” he says. “But I was firm in attempting to prove to myself that I really did trust in the Lord and His promptings, even though I had been angry with Him before.” A new relationship eventually led to a temple marriage.
“I often wonder why the Lord blessed me with someone as great as my wife when I struggled so long to fully trust the feelings of the Spirit,” reflects Todd. “It is a testimony to me that the Lord is waiting to bless us, but it’s always on His timetable.”
Alessia, by rededicating herself to the Lord, developed a deep and personal testimony. “The plan of salvation became real for me, and my covenants became more binding and deep. Christ’s Atonement was not theory anymore or something that I had read about, perhaps too superficially. A change of heart was happening inside, and I had a sure witness.” Today, she says, she feels like a new person.
Regardless of the turns life’s journey may take, the final destination of eternal life is what Heavenly Father plans for His children (see Moses 1:39). Some may even find that “plan B” was simply a way of making His “plan A” a reality.
The Best Is Yet to Come
“We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Best Is Yet to Be,” Ensign, Jan. 2010, 24.
Facing the Future with Hope
Putting the Lord, His kingdom, and our families first will give us the hope we need to face present and future challenges.
Brother Arnaldo Teles Grilo became one of my best friends when I was in my mid-20s. At the age of 62, Brother Grilo, then a retired engineer, was called as one of my counselors in the presidency of what was then the Oeiras Portugal District, where we served together for several years.
His wisdom and experience provided me, a young priesthood leader, much valuable counsel and insight. He was an optimist by nature; he always saw the bright side of every situation and had a good sense of humor. His attitude was a source of great inspiration to many around him and in particular to me because I knew about the arduous challenges he had faced.
After his graduation as an engineer, Brother Grilo joined the National Agronomic Agency as a researcher in Portugal and later traveled to one of the Portuguese colonies in Africa to lead a cotton research project. The project led him to a successful career as a senior executive in a large international bank in that country. During almost 30 years in Africa, he raised a beautiful family and enjoyed a good life until his family was abruptly forced to return to Portugal because of the tragedy of conflict and war.
Brother Grilo and his family left behind everything they had worked for—all their property and personal belongings—after witnessing firsthand the devastating effects of war on a country they loved.
Despite the confusion and turmoil generated by a war that gradually consumed all peace and stability during his last months in Africa, Brother Grilo rescued one of his friends by giving him an expensive car he had purchased in Germany. The car allowed his friend and his friend’s mother to escape the war.
The abundant material possessions that a life of hard work had provided Brother Grilo did not blur his priorities. He remained anchored in solid principles and love for his family.
Back in Portugal at age 52, he faced the reality of beginning everything from zero. With all of this adversity and tragedy, what made the difference in his life? Why was he so positive about the present and the future? Why was he so confident?
Brother Grilo was converted in the early days of the Church in Portugal and became a solid pillar and pioneer in that country. Several times he led his family to the temple in Switzerland, traveling 2,800 miles (4,500 km) round-trip in an expression of faith and devotion. Over his years of service, Brother Grilo and his wife brought joy to their children and many others.
Brother Grilo’s faith was centered in Jesus Christ and in the knowledge that in the end, Jesus Christ would reign. This gave him hope in the present and in the future.
The New Testament ends with a message of great hope.1 Prophets such as John the Revelator saw things that are to come and told us of the blessings we would receive if we remain righteous and endure to the end.
John saw a book with seven seals, or time periods, and he described how Satan has always fought against the righteous (see Revelation 5:1–5; 6). But John also saw that Satan would be bound and that Christ would reign in triumph (see Revelation 19:1–9; 20:1–11). Finally he saw that the righteous would dwell with God after the Last Judgment (see Revelation 20:12–15).
One of today’s great challenges is learning to conquer fear and despair in order to overcome trials and temptations. It takes only a few moments for us to open a newspaper, scroll the web, or hear a news broadcast on radio or television to be confronted with distressing accounts of crime and natural calamities that happen every day.
Understanding the promises in scripture concerning how the Lord will conquer evil and how truth will conquer error can help us face the future with hope and optimism. In today’s world we see war, natural calamities, and economic crises. At times these events are not just things we observe from a distance but are things that affect us personally.
There is no need for us to mourn lost worldly possessions or to fixate on the temporal, for those things can rob us of the joy of the simple, sublime things of life.
I am grateful for the example of Brother Arnaldo Teles Grilo. He kept spiritual matters first, matters “of great worth unto [us] in the last days” (2 Nephi 25:8), including family relationships and service to others.
We should all face the future with hope because we know that the forces of evil will be overcome. We should all maintain a positive outlook as we face challenges because today we have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, priesthood authority, temples, and the support of each other as members of the Church. We should all “come off conqueror” because of prayer (D&C 10:5). And most important, we should have hope in eternal life because of the Lord’s perfect atoning sacrifice (see Moroni 7:41).
When our priorities are right, we will live a richer and more abundant life. Putting the Lord, His kingdom, and our families first will give us the hope we need to face present and future challenges.
Always in the Middle
Always in the Middle
By many world calendars, July marks the middle of the year. While the beginnings and endings of things are celebrated and remembered, the middle of things often goes unnoticed.
Beginnings are times for making resolutions, for creating plans, for bursts of energy. Endings are times for winding down and may involve feelings of completion or loss. But with the proper outlook, considering ourselves as in the middle of things can help us not only to understand life a little better but also to live it a little more meaningfully.
The Middle of Missionary Work
When I speak to our young missionaries, I often tell them they are in the middle of their missions. Whether they just arrived the day before or are to depart for home the day after, I ask them to think of themselves as always being in the middle.
New missionaries may feel they are too inexperienced to be effective, and so they delay speaking or acting with confidence and boldness. Seasoned missionaries who are close to completing their missions may feel sad their missions are coming to a close, or they may slow down as they contemplate what they will do after their missions.
Whatever the circumstances and wherever they serve, the truth is that the Lord’s missionaries are daily sowing countless seeds of good tidings. Thinking of themselves as always being in the middle of their missions will embolden and energize these faithful representatives of the Lord. As it is with full-time missionaries, so it is with all of us.
We Are Always in the Middle
This change in perspective is more than a simple trick of the mind. There is a sublime truth behind the idea that we are always in the middle. If we look at our location on a map, we are tempted to say we are at a beginning. But if we look more closely, wherever we are is simply in the middle of a larger place.
As it is with space, so it is with time. We may feel we are at the beginning or end of our lives, but when we look at where we are against the backdrop of eternity—when we realize that our spirit has existed for time beyond our capacity to measure and, because of the perfect sacrifice and Atonement of Jesus Christ, that our soul will exist for an eternity to come—we can recognize that we are truly in the middle.
Recently I felt impressed to redo the headstone on my parents’ grave. Time had not been kind to the grave site, and I felt that a new headstone would be more fitting for their exemplary lives. When I looked at the birth dates and death dates on the headstone connected by the usual insignificant little dash, this small symbol of a lifespan suddenly filled my mind and heart with an abundance of rich memories. Each of these treasured memories reflects a moment in the middle of my parents’ lives and in the middle of my life.
Whatever our age, whatever our location, when things occur in our lives, we are always in the middle. What’s more, we will forever be in the middle.
The Hope of Being in the Middle
Yes, there will be moments of beginnings and moments of endings throughout our lives, but these are only markers along the way of the great middle of our eternal lives. Whether we are at the beginning or the end, whether we are young or old, the Lord can use us for His purposes if we simply set aside whatever thoughts limit our ability to serve and allow His will to shape our lives.
The Psalmist says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we [should] rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Amulek reminds us that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32; emphasis added). And a poet muses, “Forever—is composed of Nows.”1
Being always in the middle means that the game is never over, hope is never lost, defeat is never final. For no matter where we are or what our circumstances, an eternity of beginnings and an eternity of endings stretch out before us.
We are always in the middle.