Blessings come as individuals make and keep sacred covenants with the Lord, Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, taught during the General Relief Society Meeting held in the Conference Center on Sept. 28.
“As we renew and honor our covenants, our burdens can be lightened, and we can continually become purified and strengthened so that at the end of our lives we will be counted worthy to receive exaltation and eternal life,” she said.
She spoke of how she was moved as she listened to the words to the sacrament prayer.
“Why does the Savior put so much importance upon the sacrament, dear sisters?” she asked. “What importance does this weekly renewal of our baptismal covenants play in our lives? Do we recognize the ability of the Savior to completely cleanse us every week as we worthily and thoughtfully partake of the sacrament?”
It is through the sacrament that all members have the opportunity to repent of their sins and be washed clean through the blood of Christ, she said.
“Our presidency feels great joy as our sisters and their families make and keep covenants, but our hearts ache for those of you who are experiencing great adversity in your lives because of the covenant-breaking of loved ones,” she said.
Drawing from the Book of Mormon, Sister Reeves spoke of how Jacob, brother to Nephi, was charged by the Lord to speak to his brethren concerning the righteous women and children of his day.
“To the covenant-keeping women and children, of his and our day,” Sister Reeves said, “Jacob promises: ‘Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and He will console you in your afflictions. Lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love’ (Jacob 3:1-2).
“Sisters, I testify of the strength and power of prayer as we express our deepest pains and desires to our Heavenly Father and the answers that are received as we ‘feast upon’ the scriptures and words of the living prophets.”
Sister Reeves spoke of the historic Provo Tabernacle catching on fire in December of 2010, and how the fire left the interior of the building burned. Pointing out that although the Lord did not cause the fire, He allowed the fire to strip the interior, while still keeping the exterior safe so that turning the building into a temple would be possible.
“He saw the Tabernacle as a magnificent temple — a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants,” she said. “My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones, and maybe our own, figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He doesn't leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His spirit can dwell eternally.”
The Lord has a plan for every life and nothing that happens is a shock or surprise to Him, she said. He is all-knowing and all-loving, and is eager to help and comfort all who honor their covenants and rely on Him and the power of His Atonement.
“The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very thing that guides us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath,” she said.”
Sister Reeves said that over the past year she has needed and wanted to feel the love of the Lord more deeply, to receive personal revelation, to better understand her temple covenants and to have her burdens lightened. As she prayed specifically for those blessings, she felt the Spirit directing her to go to the temple and listen more closely to each word of the blessings pronounced upon her while there.
“As I have listened more intently and tried to exercise my faith, the Lord has helped to make my burdens light,” she said. “He has helped me feel great peace about prayers that have not yet been answered. We bind the Lord to keep His promises when we keep our covenants and exercise our faith. Come to the temple, dear sisters, and claim your blessings!”
It is also through claiming blessings from the temple that women of the Church can find confidence and faith.
“We sometimes, as women, have a tendency to be very critical of ourselves,” she said. “During these times, we need to seek the Spirit and ask, ‘Is this what the Lord wants me to think about myself, or is Satan trying to beat me down.’ Remember the nature of our Heavenly Father, whose love is perfect and infinite. He wants to build us up, not tear us down.”
She said some members of the Church might feel at times that they need to be part of a “perfect LDS family” in order to be accepted by the Lord. Women often feel “less-than” or like misfits if their life looks any different that that picture.
“Dear Sisters, when all is said and done, what will matter to our Father in Heaven will be how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” she said.