Dear brothers and sisters, I want to begin my message today by testifying that I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of God in our day. His counselors in the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are also, in fact, prophets, seers, and revelators. They represent the Lord Jesus Christ and have the right to declare His mind and will as it is revealed to them. I testify that there is safety in following their counsel. The Lord is inspiring them to emphasize strengthening our faith in Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in His Atonement so that we will not waver as we face the challenges of our day.
In the Book of Mormon, we read about a man named Ammon who was sent from the land of Zarahemla to the land of Lehi-Nephi to inquire concerning his brethren. There he found King Limhi and his people, who were in bondage to the Lamanites. King Limhi was encouraged by the things Ammon shared with him about his people in Zarahemla. His heart was filled with such great hope and joy that he gathered his people to the temple and said:
“Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God. …
“… If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, … and serve him with all diligence of mind, … he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”1
The faith of King Limhi’s people was so profoundly affected by the words of Ammon that they made a covenant with God to serve Him and to keep His commandments, regardless of their difficult circumstances. Because of their faith, they were able to devise a plan to escape from the hands of the Lamanites.2
Brothers and sisters, please consider the importance of the invitation King Limhi gave to his people and its relevance to us. He said, “Lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God.” With these words, Limhi invited his people to look to the future through the eyes of faith; to replace their fears with the optimism of hope born of faith; and to not waver in placing their trust in God regardless of circumstance.
Mortal life is a period of testing where we will be proven to see if we will do all things that the Lord our God shall command us.3 This will require unwavering faith in Christ even in times of great difficulty. It will require that we press forward with steadfast faith in Christ, being led by the Spirit and trusting that God will provide for our needs.4
At the conclusion of His earthly ministry, just before being taken prisoner, the Savior taught His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”5
Ponder with me for a moment—Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, lived a sinless life and overcame all the temptations, pains, challenges, and afflictions of the world. He shed drops of blood in Gethsemane; He suffered terrible pain beyond any power of description. He took upon Himself all our pains and sicknesses. He stands ready to help—to help each of us—with every burden. Through His life, suffering, death, and Resurrection, He removed every impediment to our rejoicing and finding peace on this earth. The benefits of His atoning sacrifice are extended to all those who accept Him and deny themselves and to those who take up His cross and follow Him as His true disciples.6 Therefore, as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement, we will be strengthened, our burdens will be eased, and through Him we will overcome the world.
Brothers and sisters, as we contemplate the strength and hope that we can receive from the Savior, we do have reason to lift up our heads, rejoice, and press forward in faith without wavering, “for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. … A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”7
King Limhi likewise urged, “Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, … serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”8
Listen to the Savior’s own words as He entreats us:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. …
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. …
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”9
God blesses us according to our faith.10 Faith is the source of living with divine purpose and eternal perspective. Faith is a practical principle that inspires diligence. It is a vital, living force manifest in our positive attitude and desire to willingly do everything that God and Jesus Christ ask of us. It takes us to our knees to implore the Lord for guidance and to arise and act with confidence to achieve things consistent with His will.
Years ago while serving as a mission president, I received a phone call from the parents of one of our beloved missionaries informing me about the death of his sister. I remember, in the tenderness of that moment, that missionary and I discussed God’s marvelous plan of salvation for His children and how this knowledge would comfort him.
Although he was stunned and saddened by that adversity, this missionary—through his tears and with faith in God—rejoiced in his sister’s life. He expressed unwavering confidence in the tender mercies of the Lord. Resolutely, he told me that he would continue to serve his mission with all faith and diligence in order to be worthy of the promises that God had for him and his family. In this time of need, that faithful missionary turned his heart to God, placed all of his trust in Him, and renewed his commitment to serve the Lord with faith and with all diligence.
Brothers and sisters, if we are not rooted by steadfast trust in God and the desire to serve Him, the painful experiences of mortality can lead us to feel as though we are burdened by a heavy yoke; and we can lose the motivation to live the gospel fully. Without faith, we will end up losing the capacity to appreciate those designs of our God regarding the things that will happen later in our life.11
In these moments of trial, the adversary—who is always on the lookout—tries to use our logic and reasoning against us. He tries to convince us that it is useless to live the principles of the gospel. Please remember that the logic of the natural man “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.”12 Remember that Satan “is an enemy [of] God, and [he] fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth [us] to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.”13 We must not allow him to deceive us; for when we do, we falter in our faith and lose the power to obtain God’s blessings.
If we are steadfast and do not waver in our faith, the Lord will increase our capacity to raise ourselves above the challenges of life. We will be enabled to subdue negative impulses, and we will develop the capacity to overcome even what appear to be overwhelming obstacles. This was what enabled King Limhi’s people to make a spectacular escape from their Lamanite captivity.
Brothers and sisters, I invite you to place all of your trust in God and in the teachings of His prophets. I invite you to renew your covenants with God, to serve Him with all your heart, regardless of the complex situations of life. I testify that by the power of your unwavering faith in Christ, you will become free of the captivity of sin, of doubt, of unbelief, of unhappiness, of suffering; and you will receive all of the promised blessings from our loving Heavenly Father.
I testify that God is real. He lives. He loves us. He listens to our prayers in our moments of happiness and in our moments of doubt, sadness, and desperation. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the Redeemer.
I close my remarks today with the lyrics of the hymn “Not Now but in the Coming Years,” found in the Portuguese hymnal:
If clouds instead of sun spread shadows o’er our heart,
If pain afflicts us, never mind; we will soon know who Thou art.
Jesus guides us with His hand, and He will tell us why;
If we listen to His voice, He will tell us by and by.
Confide in God unwaveringly, and let Him us sustain;
Sing His glory endlessly, for later He’ll explain.14
I say these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.