“If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong.”
A prominent theme in President Howard W. Hunter’s teachings is that true peace, healing, and happiness come only as a person strives to know and follow Jesus Christ. President Hunter taught that:
“Christ’s way is not only the right way, but ultimately the only way to hope and joy.”
“As an ordained Apostle and special witness of Christ, I give to you my solemn witness that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God,” he declared. “He is the Messiah prophetically anticipated by Old Testament prophets. He is the Hope of Israel, for whose coming the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had prayed during the long centuries of prescribed worship. …
“It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that I bear my witness. I know of Christ’s reality as if I had seen with my eyes and heard with my ears. I know also that the Holy Spirit will confirm the truthfulness of my witness in the hearts of all those who listen with an ear of faith.
- What did he mean here?
… How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be? For example, how much of a normal day, a working week, or a fleeting month is devoted to “Jesus, the very thought of thee”?
Perhaps for some of us, not enough. Unless we pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts, I wonder what hope we have to claim that greater joy, that sweeter prize: someday his loving “face to see / And in [his] presence rest.”
- How do we pay more attention to Christ?
- What can we do to remember to remember Christ and to reflect on Christ in our lives?
Contrition is costly—it costs us our pride and our insensitivity, but it especially costs us our sins. For, as King Lamoni’s father knew twenty centuries ago, this is the price of true hope. “O God,” he cried, “wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee … that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.” (Alma 22:18.) When we, too, are willing to give away all our sins to know him and follow him, we, too, will be filled with the joy of eternal life.
- What is contrition?
- How can we give our sins away?
And what of the meek? In a world too preoccupied with winning through intimidation and seeking to be number one, no large crowd of folk is standing in line to buy books that call for mere meekness.
- What is meekness?
- How do we find meekness?
- How do we make that part of our lives?
- Why isn’t meekness easier?
gentleness is better than brutality, that kindness is greater than coercion, that the soft voice turneth away wrath. In the end, and sooner than that whenever possible, we must be more like him. …
- How hard is it to be gentle?
- How hard is it to not attempt to coerce and control others?
- How easy is it to think that we are gentle when we are not?
- How easy is it to think that we are kind when we are really just trying to control others?
- How much control do we really have, other than the control over our own lives to choose to follow Christ?
… May we be more devoted and disciplined followers of Christ. May we cherish him in our thoughts and speak his name with love. May we kneel before him with meekness and mercy. May we bless and serve others that they may do the same.
- How do we do that?
We are in a world where there is at the same time both a growing hunger to hear more of Jesus Christ and a continued drift by many into what is referred to as a post-religious or post-Christian world. In addressing both, President Hunter said:
In great simplicity the Master taught the principles of life eternal and lessons that bring happiness to those with the faith to believe. It doesn’t seem reasonable to assume the necessity of modernizing these teachings of the Master.
His message concerned principles that are eternal. In this age, as in every age before us and in every age that will follow, the greatest need in all the world is an active and sincere faith in the basic teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God. Because many reject those teachings, that is all the more reason why sincere believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ should proclaim its truth and show by example the power and peace of a righteous, gentle life. …
How are we supposed to act when we are offended, misunderstood, unfairly or unkindly treated, or sinned against? What are we supposed to do if we are hurt by those we love, or passed over for promotion, or are falsely accused, or have our motives unfairly assailed?
- So, how do we proclaim the truth by the way we act?
Strive to build a personal testimony of Jesus Christ and the atonement. A study of the life of Christ and a testimony of his reality is something each of us should seek. As we come to understand his mission, and the atonement which he wrought, we will desire to live more like him.
- How do we do this?
- Feel free to ask the person next to you what has worked for them in building a testimony of Jesus Christ and of the atonement or to share what has worked for you – or to do both.
There is a serious application to this lesson. All of us have seen some sudden storms in our lives. A few of them … can be violent and frightening and potentially destructive. As individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, even as a church, we have had sudden squalls arise which have made us ask one way or another, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” [Mark 4:38.] And one way or another we always hear in the stillness after the storm, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” [Mark 4:40.]
None of us would like to think we have no faith, but I suppose the Lord’s gentle rebuke here is largely deserved.
We will all have some adversity in our lives. I think we can be reasonably sure of that. Some of it will have the potential to be violent and damaging and destructive. Some of it may even strain our faith in a loving God who has the power to administer relief in our behalf.
- Are we ever surprised by adversity?
- How does Christ help us in our adversity?
Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.) Sure, there are plenty of things to worry about—some of them very serious things—but that is why we speak in gospel terms of faith, and hope, and charity.
As Latter-day Saints, ours is “the abundant life,” and we try to emphasize our blessings and opportunities while we minimize our disappointments and worries. “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing,” the scripture says, “and all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:24). I want to remind you of that promise. …
Please remember this one thing. If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right. …
We all struggle with health problems occasionally—others do so constantly. Illness and disease are part of the burden of mortality. Have faith and be positive. The power of the priesthood is real, and there is so much that is good in life, even if we struggle physically. It is a joy to know that there will be no injury or disease in the Resurrection.
Some of our concerns may come in the form of temptations. Others may be difficult decisions pertaining to education or career or money or marriage. Whatever your burden is, you will find the strength you need in Christ. Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega, literally the beginning and the end. He is with us from start to finish, and as such is more than a spectator in our lives. … If the yoke under which we struggle is sin itself, the message is the same.
Christ knows the full weight of our sins, for he carried it first. If our burden is not sin nor temptation, but illness or poverty or rejection, it’s the same. He knows. … He suffered so much more than our sins. He whom Isaiah called the “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3; Mosiah 14:3) knows perfectly every problem through which we pass because he chose to bear the full weight of all our troubles and our pains. …
Brothers and sisters, you have and will have worries and challenges of many kinds, but embrace life joyfully and full of faith. Study the scriptures regularly. Pray fervently. Obey the voice of the Spirit and the prophets. Do all that you can to help others. You will find great happiness in such a course. Some glorious day all your worries will be turned to joys.
As Joseph Smith wrote to the struggling Saints from his cell in Liberty Jail:
Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed [D&C 123:17; emphasis added].
[In the words of the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith:] Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. … Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven [D&C 6:34–37].
- What is in our power?
- What can we do?
- What do you think we can do to turn more to Christ and to feel the peace of his message in our hearts in times of trouble?