Dear brothers and sisters, what a joy to be with you! We are gathered virtually from every inhabited continent and from the isles of the sea, united in a love of our Savior Jesus Christ and in our commitment to help build His kingdom. You give me hope for a better world. And of course there are millions more good people with whom we can gather and partner and from whom we can learn. “Hope,” says Bishop Desmond Tutu, “is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”1
Our greatest hope is in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Through Him we find joy and peace. He knows the end from the beginning. He promises, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly.”2
But we don’t see the end from the beginning. We only “know in part.”3 Perhaps our lives are unfolding in ways different from what we had hoped for. We can still “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, [and] a perfect brightness of hope”4 because we know that our loving Heavenly Father has a plan for us.
During the stay-at-home orders that have been occasioned by the COVID pandemic, I’ve been working on a new skill—it’s called paper piece quilting. It’s a way of turning scraps of fabric into intricate designs. At first the process is counterintuitive. You sew pieces of cloth together upside down and backward to how they will appear in the final pattern. It’s hard to see how these bits of color will resolve into a coherent pattern. But gradually, as you patiently cut, stitch, and press over and over again, a beautiful design emerges.
We may feel the plan for our lives is not yet clear. That does not mean that we are waiting for life to begin. These are invaluable years no matter where you are in your life.
This is a season to develop talents. President Nelson teaches, “Education is the difference between wishing you could help other people and being able to help them.”5 The good and useful things you learn now will shape and bless your whole life.
This is a season to seek out wise and righteous mentors—parents or grandparents, teachers, friends, Church leaders, and, most importantly, Jesus Christ—to help us build meaningful lives. Create meaningful relationships with those who can help you learn and grow.
This is a season to be anxiously engaged in good causes. Heaven is not waiting for the pandemic to end, for me to lose 10 pounds, or for you to be married to the person of your dreams for us to become true disciples—to keep His commandments, especially the commandment to love the Lord and our neighbors.
If we want greater hope and deeper meaning in our lives, we might begin each day with a prayer of gratitude and a sincere plea: “Heavenly Father, let me be an instrument in Thy hands today. Open my heart. Give me wisdom, imagination, strength, and courage to do what I can.” Then look for opportunities to be a truer friend, a kinder sister, a better son, a more generous neighbor, a more inspired minister, a more patient parent. Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love, is in God, and God is in him, for God is love.”6
Heaven is not waiting for us to be perfect or for us to arrive in the next world to bless us. If we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”7
Christ’s love is sure. The Apostle Paul teaches:
“Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”8
May “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace”9 as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It’s powerful. It’s beautiful, and it’s important! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.