Sister Linda K. Burton: 'Certain Women'

The New Testament contains accounts of “certain women,” named and unnamed, who exercised faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement, Sister Linda K. Burton said while delivering an address during the first session of the Church’s 187th Annual General Conference on March 25.

“I have read and passed over the seemingly unremarkable expression ‘certain women’ numerous times before, but recently as I pondered more carefully, those words just seemed to jump off the page,” said Sister Burton, Relief Society general president.

Addressing 7.1 million Relief Society sisters in 188 countries during the General Women’s Session, Sister Burton spoke one year after inviting Relief Society sisters across the globe to participate in the “I Was a Stranger” refugee effort.

“My beloved sisters, how we love you and thank you for your tender-hearted and enthusiastic response to the First Presidency’s invitation and the #iwasastranger effort,” said Sister Burton. “Please keep praying, listening to the whisperings of the Spirit, and acting on the promptings you receive.”

Quoting Daughters in My Kingdom, Sister Burton spoke of New Testament accounts of “certain women” who exercised faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement, learned and lived His teachings, and testified of His ministry, miracles and majesty. “These women became exemplary disciples and important witnesses in the work of salvation,” she said.

She shared accounts from the book of Luke that tells of the Savior’s ministry: “Mary called Magdalene ... and Joanna ... and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him” (Luke 8:1–3).

Sister Burton said that following the Savior’s Resurrection, “Certain women ... which were early at the sepulchre; when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had ... seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive” (Luke 24:22–23).

Sister Burton said as she pondered, she remembered two New Testament “certain women” who “bore positive, confident, firm, assured testimonies of the Savior.”

“Though they, like us, were imperfect women, their witness is inspiring,” she said. “Remember the unnamed woman at the well who invited others to come and see what she had learned of the Savior? She bore her certain witness in the form of a question: ‘Is not this the Christ?’ ” (John 4:29).

And “following the death of her brother, Lazarus — Martha, the beloved disciple and friend of the Lord, declared with what must have been great emotion, ‘Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.’ Consider her certainty as she continued, ‘But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.’ She further testified, ‘I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world’ ” (John 11:21–22, 27).

Sister Burton said from these sisters, Latter-day Saint women today learn that “certain women” are centered in the Savior Jesus Christ and have hope through the promise of His Atoning sacrifice.

Anciently, “certain women” sacrificed as they testified and lived the teachings of Jesus, she said. “Certain women” in the early days of the Restoration did the same.

Sister Burton spoke of Drusilla Hendricks, who with her family was among those who suffered during the persecution of the Saints in Clay County, Missouri. Her husband was permanently paralyzed during the Battle of Crooked River. At one time, when her family was out of food, a voice told her “Hold on, for the Lord will provide.” Later her son would volunteer for the Mormon Battalion.

“We learn from this ‘certain woman’ that covenant-keeping discipleship requires our willingness to sacrifice,” said Sister Burton.

She said in addition to “certain women” in the Savior’s day and the early days of the Restoration, there are “certain women” today.

“On my recent assignment to Asia, I was once again inspired by the many ‘certain women’ I met,” Sister Burton recalled. “I was particularly impressed with first-generation members in India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, who strive to live the gospel culture in their own homes, sometimes at great sacrifice as gospel living often clashes with family and country cultures. The multigenerational ‘certain women’ I met in Hong Kong and Taiwan continue to bless the lives of their families, Church members, and communities by remaining centered in the Savior and willingly sacrificing to keep covenants. Similar ‘certain women’ are found throughout the Church.”

Sister Burton said a ‘“certain woman” who has blessed her life for decades has battled for the past 15 years the “debilitating, difficult, and progressive disease” called Inclusion Body Myositis. “Though confined to her wheelchair, she strives to be grateful and keeps up her ‘Can Can List’ — a running list of things she can do, such as ‘I can breathe, I can swallow, I can pray, and I can feel my Savior’s love.’ She bears her Christ-centered certain witness almost daily to family and friends.”

Then Sister Burton extended the following invitation: “Sisters, when we have become distracted, doubtful, discouraged, sinful, sorrowful, or soul-stretched, may we accept the Lord’s invitation to drink of His living water as did the ‘certain woman’ at the well, inviting others to do the same as we bear our own certain witness: ‘Is not this the Christ?’

“When life seems unfair, as it must have seemed to Martha at the death of her brother — when we experience the heartaches of loneliness, infertility, loss of loved ones, missing opportunities for marriage and family, broken homes, debilitating depression, physical or mental illness, stifling stress, anxiety, addiction, financial hardship, or a plethora of other possibilities — may we remember Martha and declare our similar certain witness: ‘But I know … [and] I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.’ ”

“May we remember the many ‘certain women’ who refuse to abandon our precious Savior during the excruciating experience He suffered on the cross, and yet hours later were privileged to be certain witnesses of His glorious Resurrection. Let us be found staying close to Him in prayer and scripture study. Let us draw ourselves near to Him by preparing for and partaking of the sacred emblems of His atoning sacrifice weekly during the ordinance of the sacrament, and as we keep covenants by serving others in their times of need. Perhaps then we might be part of the ‘certain women,’ disciples of Jesus Christ, who will celebrate His glorious return when He comes again.”

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