Question: How can the Savior’s counsel help us when we face persecution and trials?
Answer: When we are trying to keep the commandments and govern our lives according to the principles of the Gospel, there are times we may be “persecuted” by the unrighteous. In an effort to cover up their own sins, the unrighteous accuse the righteous of the very sins they seek to hide.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (If you were not doing what is right, the world would not hate you.)
19 If ye were of the world (if you were worldly and wicked), the world would love his own (the world would love you because you would be just like they are): but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore (that is why) the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying (obeyed my teachings), they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him (the Father) that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin (they would not have been accountable): but now they have no cloak (cover or excuse) for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin (they would not have become accountable): but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law (this is a fulfillment of the prophecy), They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter (the Holy Ghost) is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
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Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
This Is Mortality
Although the details will differ, the tragedies, the unanticipated tests and trials, both physical and spiritual, come to each of us because this is mortality.
As I thought this morning of the speakers in just this session of conference, it occurred to me that two have lost children and three have lost grandchildren who unexpectedly returned to their heavenly home. None has been spared sickness and sadness, and as has been spoken, this very week an angel on earth whom we all love, Sister Barbara Ballard, stepped gently through the veil. President Ballard, we will never forget your testimony this morning.
We search for happiness. We long for peace. We hope for love. And the Lord showers us with an amazing abundance of blessings. But intermingled with the joy and happiness, one thing is certain: there will be moments, hours, days, sometimes years when your soul will be wounded.
The scriptures teach that we will taste the bitter and the sweet and that there will be “opposition in all things.” Jesus said, “[Your Father] maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Wounds of the soul are not unique to the rich or the poor, to one culture, one nation, or one generation. They come to all and are part of the learning we receive from this mortal experience.
The Righteous Are Not Immune
My message today is especially to those who are keeping the commandments of God, keeping their promises to God, and, like the Norbys and many other men, women, and children in this worldwide audience, are confronted with trials and challenges that are unexpected and painful.
Our wounds may come from a natural disaster or an unfortunate accident. They may come from an unfaithful husband or wife, turning life upside down for a righteous spouse and children. The wounds may come from the darkness and gloom of depression, from an unanticipated illness, from the suffering or premature death of someone we love, from the sadness of a family member dismissing his or her faith, from the loneliness when circumstances do not bring an eternal companion, or from a hundred other heart-wrenching, painful “[sorrows] that the eye can’t see.”
We each understand that difficulties are part of life, but when they come to us personally, they can take our breath away. Without being alarmed, we need to be ready. The Apostle Peter said, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” Along with the bright colors of happiness and joy, the darker-colored threads of trial and tragedy are woven deeply into the fabric of our Father’s plan. These struggles, although difficult, often become our greatest teachers.
When telling the miraculous story of Helaman’s 2,060 young soldiers, we love this scripture: “According to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish.”
But the sentence continues: “And neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.” Each one of the 2,060 received many wounds, and each one of us will be wounded in the battle of life, whether physically, spiritually, or both.
Jesus Christ Is Our Good Samaritan
Never give up, however deep the wounds of your soul, whatever their source, wherever or whenever they happen, and however short or long they persist, you are not meant to perish spiritually. You are meant to survive spiritually and blossom in your faith and trust in God.
God did not create our spirits to be independent of Him. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the incalculable gift of His Atonement, not only saves us from death and offers us, through repentance, forgiveness for our sins, but He also stands ready to save us from the sorrows and pains of our wounded souls.
The Savior is our Good Samaritan, sent “to heal the brokenhearted.” He comes to us when others pass us by. With compassion, He places His healing balm on our wounds and binds them up. He carries us. He cares for us. He bids us, “Come unto me … and I shall heal [you].”
“And [Jesus] shall … [suffer] pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; … that … he [might] take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people … [taking upon Himself our] infirmities, [being] filled with mercy.”
Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish;
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your anguish.
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.
At a time of enormous suffering, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph, “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” How can painful wounds be for our good? In the crucible of earthly trials, patiently move forward, and the Savior’s healing power will bring you light, understanding, peace, and hope.
Don’t Ever Give Up
Pray with all your heart. Strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, in His reality, in His grace. Hold on to His words: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Remember, repentance is powerful spiritual medicine. Keep the commandments and be worthy of the Comforter, remembering that the Savior promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
The peace of the temple is a soothing balm to the wounded soul. Return to the Lord’s house with your wounded heart and your family names as frequently as possible. The temple projects our brief moment in mortality onto the wide screen of eternity.
Look backward, remembering that you proved your worthiness in your premortal state. You are a valiant child of God, and with His help, you can triumph in the battles of this fallen world. You have done it before, and you can do it again.
Look forward. Your troubles and sorrows are very real, but they will not last forever. Your dark night will pass, because “the Son … [did rise] with healing in his wings.”
The Norbys told me, “Disappointment comes to visit on occasion but is never allowed to stay.” The Apostle Paul said, “We are troubled … yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” You may be exhausted, but don’t ever give up.
Even with your own painful wounds, you will instinctively reach out to others, trusting in the Savior’s promise: “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” The wounded who nurse the wounds of others are God’s angels on earth.
In just a few moments, we will listen to our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, a man of undaunted faith in Jesus Christ, a man of hope and peace, loved by God but not spared from the wounds of the soul. In 1995 his daughter Emily, while expecting a child, was diagnosed with cancer. There were days of hope and happiness as her healthy baby was delivered. But the cancer returned, and their beloved Emily would pass from this life just two weeks after her 37th birthday, leaving her loving husband and five young children.
In general conference, shortly after her passing, President Nelson confided: “My tears of sorrow have flowed along with wishes that I could have done more for our daughter. … If I had the power of resurrection, I would have been tempted to bring [her] back. … [But] Jesus Christ holds those keys and will use them for Emily … and for all people in the Lord’s own time.”
Last month, while visiting the Saints in Puerto Rico and remembering last year’s devastating hurricane, President Nelson spoke with love and compassion:
“[This] is part of life. It’s why we’re here. We are here to have a body and to be tried and tested. Some of those tests are physical; some are spiritual, and your trials here have been both physical and spiritual.”
“You have not given up. We are [so] proud of you. You faithful Saints have lost much, but through it all, you have fostered your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“By keeping God’s commandments, we can find joy even in the midst of our worst circumstances.”
All Tears Shall Be Wiped Away
My brothers and sisters, it is my promise to you that increasing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will bring you added strength and greater hope. For you, the righteous, the Healer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds. No injustice, no persecution, no trial, no sadness, no heartache, no suffering, no wound, however deep, however wide, however painful, will be excluded from the comfort, peace, and lasting hope of Him whose open arms and whose wounded hands will welcome us back into His presence. At that day, the Apostle John testifies, the righteous “which [come] out of great tribulation” will stand “arrayed in white robes … before the throne of God.” The Lamb will “dwell among [us] … and God shall wipe away all tears from [your] eyes.” This day will come. I so witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 88; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 312; Excerpts from “Wounded,” by Elder Neil L. Andersen, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2018, General Conference.