Dear brothers and sisters, this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What a joy it is to be gathered as His Church. I am thankful that President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us to use the correct name of the Lord’s Church often so that we remember whose Church this is and whose teachings we follow.
President Nelson has stated: “In coming days, we will see the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen. … He will bestow countless privileges, blessings, and miracles upon the faithful.”1
One of the greatest privileges for me and my wife, Renee, is to meet with the Saints where we serve. We hear their stories, we witness their losses, we share their grief, and we rejoice with their success. We have witnessed many of the blessings and miracles that the Savior has bestowed upon the faithful. We have met people who have gone through the impossible, who have suffered the unthinkable.
We have seen the manifestation of the Savior’s power in a widow who lost her husband while they were on the Lord’s errand in Bolivia.2 We have seen it in a young woman in Argentina who fell under a train and lost her leg, just because someone wanted to steal her cell phone.3 And in her single father, who now must pick up the pieces and strengthen his daughter after such an unexplainable act of cruelty. We have seen it in the families that lost their homes and every possession during fires in Chile just two days before Christmas in 2022.4 We have seen it in those who suffer after a traumatic divorce and in those who are innocent victims of abuse.
What gives them the power to go through hard things? What gives an extra layer of strength to go on when everything seems lost?
I have found that the source of that strength is faith in Jesus Christ as we intentionally seek to come unto Him each and every day.
The prophet Jacob taught, “And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.”5
At times, having faith in Jesus Christ may seem like something impossible, almost unattainable. We may think that coming unto Christ requires a strength, power, and perfection we don’t have, and we just can’t find the energy to do it all. But what I have learned from all these people is that faith in Jesus Christ is what gives us the energy to begin the journey. Sometimes we may think, “I need to fix my life before I come to Jesus,” but the truth is that we come to Jesus to fix our lives through Him.
We don’t come to Jesus because we are perfect. We come to Him because we are flawed and in Him we can “be perfected.”6
How do we begin exercising a little bit of faith every day? For me it begins in the morning: When I wake up, instead of looking at my phone, I say a prayer. Even a simple prayer. Then I read a scripture. This helps me with my weekly covenant that I make as I partake of the sacrament to “always remember him.”7 When I begin my day with a prayer and a scripture, I can “remember Him” when I do look at my phone. I can “remember Him” when I face problems and conflicts, and I try to face them like Jesus would.
When I “remember Him,” I feel a desire to change, to repent. I find the source of energy to keep my covenants, and I feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life “and keep his commandments which he has given [me]; that [I] may always have his Spirit.”8 It helps me to endure to the end.9 Or at least to the end of the day! And in those days that I fail to remember Him all day, He is still there, loving me and telling me, “It’s OK; you can try again tomorrow.”
Although we are imperfect at remembering Him, our loving Heavenly Father never fails to remember us.
One of the mistakes we often make is to think that keeping covenants, or the promises we make to God, is somehow a transaction we make with Him: I obey, and He protects me from anything bad ever happening to me. I pay my tithing, and I will never lose my job or the fire will not burn my house. But then when things don’t go as we expected, we cry unto the Lord, “Carest thou not that I perish?”10
Our covenants are not merely transactional; they are transformational.11 Through my covenants I receive sanctifying, strengthening power of Jesus Christ, which allows me to become a new person, to forgive what seems unforgivable, to overcome the impossible. Intentionally remembering Jesus Christ always is powerful; it gives me added strength to “keep his commandments which he has given [me].”12 It helps me to be nicer, to smile for no reason, to be a peacemaker,13 to avoid conflict, to let God prevail in my life.14
When our pain or the pain of someone we love is so much that we can’t bear it, remembering Jesus Christ and coming unto Him can lighten the burden, soften the heart, and ease the pain. This is the power that enabled a father beyond his natural capacity to sustain his daughter through the physical and emotional pain of losing her leg.
When Elder Soares visited Argentina last June and asked Flavia about her tragic accident, she faithfully replied, “I experienced turmoil, bitterness, anger, and hate when [this happened]. Something that helped me was not to ask, ‘why me?’ but ‘what for?’ … This was something that brought me closer to others and the Lord. … Instead of distancing myself from Him, I had to cling to Him.”15
President Nelson taught: “The reward for keeping covenants with God is heavenly power—power that strengthens us to withstand our trials, temptations, and heartaches better. … Thus, covenant keepers are entitled to a special kind of rest.”16 This is the kind of rest and peace I saw in the eyes of the widow, despite the heartache she felt of missing her husband every day.
The New Testament tells of a time when Jesus and His disciples were on a ship:
“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship. …
“And he was … asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. …
“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”17
I have always been intrigued by this story. Did the Lord expect them to use their faith to calm the storm? To rebuke the winds? Faith in Jesus Christ is the feeling of peace to withstand the storm, knowing that we will not perish because He is in the ship with us.
This is the kind of faith we saw when we visited the families after the fires in Chile. Their houses had been burned to the ground; they had lost everything. Yet as we were walking in what used to be their homes and they were telling us about their experiences, we felt that we were standing on holy ground. One sister said to my wife, “When I saw that nearby houses were burning, I had the impression that our house was going to be burned, that we were going to lose everything. Instead of desperation, I experienced a sense of indescribable peace. Somehow, I felt everything was going to be OK.” Trusting God and keeping our covenants with Him bring power to our weakness and comfort to our grief.
I am grateful for the opportunity that Renee and I had to meet some of these extraordinary Saints, for their many examples of faith, strength, and perseverance. For stories of heartbreak and disappointment that will never make the front page of a newspaper or ever go viral. For the pictures that are not taken of tears shed and prayers offered after a loss or a traumatic divorce; for the posts that are never made of the fear, the sorrow, and the pain that become bearable thanks to faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. These people strengthen my own faith, and for that I am deeply grateful.
I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that He stands ready to endow us with His power if we come to Him each and every day. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.