Elder Quentin L. Cook: 'The Songs They Could Not Sing'

"Sometimes tragedies are very personal," said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve in his address Sunday afternoon. "We lament the things that will not be accomplished and the songs that will not be sung."

He mentioned that some frequently asked questions include, "Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people?" and, "Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord's service not immune from such tragedies?"

"While we do not know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence that there is a bright future planned for each of us," Elder Cook said.

He listed three important principles: there is a Father in Heaven who loves and knows everyone individually, the Savior's atonement compensates for the unfairness in life and the plan of happiness includes a reunion with those who have been lost.

He compared the limited perspective of someone walking into the middle of a three-act play. "Those without knowledge of the Father's plan do not understand what happened in the first act or the pre-mortal existence and the purposes established there; nor do they understand the clarification and resolution that come in the third act which is the glorious fulfillment of the Father's plan."

Elder Cook referred to the sinking of the Titanic and how it can be used as a metaphor of the difficulty there may be in looking only through the lens at this mortal life.

He said it is important to remember the blessings received from day-to-day lives and to maintain a spirit of gratitude.

"However," he said, "righteousness, prayer and faithfulness will not always result in happy endings in mortality. Many will experience severe trials. When this happens the very act of having faith and seeking priesthood blessings is approved by God. The Lord has declared, '… the elders … shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me'" (Doctrine and Covenants 42:44).

He added that life is full of many different challenges and these challenges are not an evidence of lack of faith, but rather they are a part of the "refiner's fire" and help to purify and prepare individuals to meet God.

"Some challenges result from the agency of others," Elder Cook said. "Agency is essential for individual spiritual growth and development. Evil conduct is an element of agency."

He went on to say some challenges might result from disobedience to God's commandments, such as health problems resulting from smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.

He said a unique challenge for those who have lost loved ones is to avoid dwelling on lost opportunities in life.

"With our limited understanding we lament the things that will not be accomplished and the songs that will not be sung," he said.

"The lost opportunity might relate to family, occupation, talents, experiences or others. …But viewed through the wide and clear lens of the gospel instead of the limited lens of mere mortal existence, we know of the great eternal reward promised by a loving Father in His plan."

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