Maybe I can’t or don’t want to. Perhaps I can, but I shouldn’t. Either way, I will make the right decision and do it for Him. Perhaps that is the only legitimate reason you can come up with at the time.
When I was a young man, a boy really, I remember doing things with my father that many of you probably did with your fathers and mothers. Those were back in the days when the Church owned many orchards in our community, and we would donate time helping pick the fruit in the fall and even late into the year often just prior to the frost. On occasion we went to visit the elderly. I remember going to Aunt Faye’s to visit Grandma Sorenson. Sometimes my father would take me to Brother Gigi’s. We would admire his beautiful weed-free garden and compliment him.
Just giving a little time and showing interest in others brightened their day and ours. We went home teaching together and lived a relatively simple life. Always, he related these activities to following the example of the Savior Jesus Christ. He demonstrated his allegiance to Jesus Christ and made obedience to the commandments a priority. I don’t say that to boast. On the contrary, in and of himself he was not well-known or famous. But he frequently taught his children and family of the role of the Savior and his influence for good. And in that way, his life was noteworthy.
My dad loved Bette Midler’s song The Wind Beneath My Wings because I know he was thinking of Jesus Christ when he would listen to those special words.
Many years ago, I went to get a haircut. The barbershop was busy at the time, so I put my name on the waiting list and found a chair in the reading room to await my turn. Not really planning on picking up reading material, I sat down and noticed a LIFE magazine on the table. It caught my eye because there was a picture of Christ on its cover, which referred to an article that asked what people thought about Jesus Christ. The question of who he was and what role he played was addressed by many different religions, and noted scholars expressed their assessments of his role and purpose.
There were many different views and opinions discussed by thoughtful men and women and organizations alike. Not many years later, the Church released The Living Christ, an official statement about the glorious truth of the life and mission of the Savior of the World. Since that time, the Church has increased its dissemination of that message through websites, statements, publications, songs, performances, literature, videos, missionary and temple work unlike any time previously in the history of mankind.
True. Life is tough. There are challenges and difficulties and hardships that are immediate, severe, and acute, but he has the answer for those times as well. Faith, trust, and devotion are our bedrock.
This time of year, we have the privilege of celebrating his birth, his life, and his victory over all things, so that we might have happiness in this life right now in this time and return to our Father in Heaven to reach our full potentials as his children. But perhaps you feel that you can’t wait until the resurrection. You need his help and comfort immediately. That is probably how the apostles felt when Jesus told of his death and resurrection, and confused these newly-called disciples felt the weight of their callings and the emptiness of fulfilling their role in his absence. That is when he spoke these immortal words found in John 16:33:
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Jesus then described the mission of the Holy Ghost and promised them peace. They were about to collectively face the most challenging times of their lives in his absence, yet he promised them peace? Yes. And he has covenanted with us the same thing that despite the tribulations of the world, we can have peace through him.
But life is tough. We have all seen that. I know a family who recently experienced a devastating tragedy. Sometime after a young woman delivered her happy, beautiful baby boy, the child was diagnosed with cancer. All means were employed and no expense was spared, but this darling little boy died as an infant child. The grandfather is my friend and this little tyke was his first grandchild. I struggled to find words to explain my sorrow for his loss and share my condolences with him. Instead of spending this holiday season enjoying his growing family and new grandchild, he is trying to comfort his distraught daughter and his wife and speak words of hope and peace to comfort them and help them through this trial. My words fell short.
I know another person who met the love of her life and was soon married. She and her husband had a little boy who became their pride and joy. When this baby boy was just one month old his father was killed in an automobile accident. Later, her home and all of her belongings burned to the ground. Again, I was at a loss what I could say to comfort this family. Despite my failings, they pressed forward in faith.
I was moved when I heard this story about this woman and wanted to share her particular experience with my children. So I asked her to tell me what she had said when the burdens of life felt more difficult than she could handle and what she had done to get through this experience. To manage her problems she was able to focus on others and somehow survived these enormous trials in her life. She responded with the following remarkable words:
“I don’t remember my exact words, but I do remember my sentiments at the time. It is true that I did feel a huge sense of loss when I lost all in the fire. I felt that it was hard enough to lose my husband, but to then lose everything that I had of his and all that we had accumulated together felt overwhelming at the time. However, focusing outward and upward during this difficult time changed my perspective immediately and dramatically. I didn’t care so much about what I had lost in the way of possessions. That really didn’t matter anymore. Working with others in critical situations and assisting families in dealing with their trials caused me to put my own burdens out of my mind. It did cause me to focus on what is really important and that made all the difference.”
I am a new grandfather and have a spouse who is the love of my life. I can hardly imagine the breadth of sorrow and difficulty these families had to endure, which they did faithfully and optimistically.
It wasn’t until many years later that I read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23.
Melvin J Ballard eloquently shares a beautiful experience in the article I Know That He Lives. He speaks of a time when all our burdens will be cast at the feet of the Savior, and we will see Him smiling, with extended arms, saying to us all: “Come unto me!”
Friends may betray us, spouses may leave us, health may fail, and our possessions burn up. But, Christ, His promises, understanding, and love will never fail us. With some trials and most tragedies, only this can get us through.
When we can take a thankless, demanding calling; give up something we wanted greatly so we can pay our tithing; or help out someone who has badly hurt us… and say, “I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, but I will do it for Christ!” … then the power for good he can have in our lives is becoming a reality. He must be the foundation of our lives.
When we face difficult challenges or are called to go through hardships we don’t want, it can help us persist and endure when we recognize and do it for him.
Truly, because of Jesus Christ even in the midst of hardship, we can proclaim glad tidings of great joy.
“The supreme achievement of life is to find God and to know that He lives.” Howard W Hunter
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.