Sunday, August 1, 2010

GC Recap #31 - Turn to the Lord

I remember this talk by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom,Of the Presidency of the Seventy very vividly. It's one of those that really stuck with me. He began by telling the story of a young couple who tragically lost heir baby during childbirth. As a result this couple became angry, bitter and resentful; and they pulled their families down with them. Now, many years later, 4 generations have been affected and there has been no spiritual activity by any family member for decades.

In contrast, he compared that to his own family. His grandparents lost their only daughter while she was giving birth, consequently, the twins she was carrying also died. But these faithful members did not lose their faith. They stayed strong and faithful. Their example also affected generations. Their son also lost his daughter due to complications stemming from childbirth, leaving behind a husband and 4 young children. But because of their parents example they to turned to the atonement for strength and remained faithful.

He said, "In the most difficult circumstances of life, there is often only one source of peace. The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, extends His grace with the invitation “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. He further promises, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you”.

"Throughout the world and among the membership of the Church, there is great joy and great pain. Both are part of the plan. Without one, we cannot know the other. “Men are, that they might have joy” and “for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” are not contradictory; they are complementary. In describing how he felt when he turned to the Lord, Alma the Younger said, “My soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain”.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a model in handling personal tragedy and opposition. Revealed to him while in the inhumane surroundings of the Liberty Jail was this divine direction (which, in part, was a description of Joseph’s life to that point and also a forewarning): If “fools shall have thee in derision, . . . if thou art called to pass through tribulation; . . . if thine enemies fall upon thee; . . . if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, . . . 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”. Then the profound statement: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”. This is followed by clear direction and great promises. “Therefore, hold on thy way, and . . . fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever”.

"Over the ensuing years, Joseph Smith continued to righteously endure a life full of adversity. He offered this faith-filled perspective: “And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me. . . . Deep water is what I am wont to swim in. . . . I . . . glory in tribulation; for . . . God . . . [has] delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth". Joseph’s confidence in overcoming constant opposition was based on his ability to continually turn to the Lord.

"If you feel you have been wronged—by anyone (a family member, a friend, another member of the Church, a Church leader, a business associate) or by anything (the death of a loved one, health problems, a financial reversal, abuse, addictions)—deal with the matter directly and with all the strength you have. “Hold on thy way”; giving up is not an option. And, without delay, turn to the Lord. Exercise all of the faith you have in Him. Let Him share your burden. Allow His grace to lighten your load. We are promised that we will “suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ”. Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually.

"His most exemplary act, the Atonement, required Jesus to descend “below all things” and suffer “the pains of all men”. Thus we understand the Atonement has broader purpose than providing a means to overcome sin. This greatest of all earthly accomplishments gives the Savior the power to fulfill this promise: “If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence . . . , if ye do this, he will . . . deliver you out of bondage”.

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