Great blessings will come to Latter-day Saint women who are willing to align their will to the will of the Lord, said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president.
“This is the test of life," she said. "As we become better at doing it we will find greater happiness, increased ability to receive personal revelation, greater capacity to serve those around us, more help in meeting trials and a more Christlike character.”
Speaking during BYU Women’s Conference on May 5, Sister Oscarson addressed the topic “The Test of Life.”
Sister Oscarson recalled pulling up to a red light and watching a young man filled with grief.
“Whatever grief that unknown young man was feeling had already been felt by the Savior,” she said. “His pains and his sorrows had already been experienced and were understood. In my mind, I multiplied this man’s grief and pain to include all of the sorrow, all of the pain and all of the hurt, that comes as a result of sin, evil, abuse or from any of the inevitable problems coming from living in a fallen world, that have taken place since the world began. In that moment of contemplation, the weight of the total combined suffering of all mankind felt incomprehensible.”
The Savior Jesus Christ, “willingly volunteered to experience and take upon Himself all of the pain, the sorrow and the suffering that every individual who has ever lived upon this earth would experience,” she said.
“Agreeing to accept this seemingly impossible task and having the courage and determination to follow through to the very end must indisputably go down for all eternity as the ultimate act of sacrifice, valor and obedience. [T]he Savior Jesus Christ, who sensed the crushing weight of what lay before Him, was also willing to say the words, ‘nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’”
The scriptural instructions are clear about what is expected of Latter-day Saints, she said. “The Savior invites each of us to follow His example and do those things which our Father in Heaven would have us do.”
Sister Oscarson recalled the cautionary tale described in Acts 5 about Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. They sold a piece of land and then withheld a portion of the profit from the sale for themselves, rather than giving it all to the apostles as was expected. “I have always been somewhat surprised by the dire consequences they each suffered for their dishonesty,” she said. “They were each struck dead as their duplicity was revealed (Acts 5:1-11). Perhaps one of the points of this story —besides the obvious lesson of integrity — is instruction on how seriously the Lord takes our willingness to lay everything on the altar for Him.”
Sister Oscarson said she finds it instructive to occasionally ask herself, “What am I holding back?”
“We all have our justifications for our sometimes less-than-noble choices,” she said.
Although women, and especially mothers, need to do things for themselves, “we have all felt the promptings from the Spirit which nag at the edges of our conscience telling us that we could make better use of our downtime,” she said. “I know I have.”
“We often become more obsessed with getting to the gym every day or spending time reading and sending messages and photos on social media than we do visiting a neighbor face-to-face or making the effort to actually call a friend to see how they are doing or even just read the lesson to prepare for next Sunday’s class,” she said. “Surely we are capable of finding the right balance in our lives as we seek the influence of the Spirit to give us direction.”
Earnestly seeking to know what the Lord “would have us spend our time doing, with the sincere intention of following what He directs us to do, will result in some wonderfully elevating course corrections in our lives,” she said.
Sister Oscarson told the congregation that if they want to do the will of the Father, they need to find ways to serve those around them. “Isn’t that the Savior’s message again and again in the scriptures? Service does several things: it invites the Spirit into our lives, and it helps us forget our own worries and makes us happy. As we take care of those around us, it also helps us accomplish Heavenly Father’s work.”
Sister Oscarson said as Church members learn to heed the prompting of the Spirit as to what the Lord would have them do each day, they will become more like the Savior and their capacity to serve more effectively will increase.
She said there are many whose trials with submission do not come because of misguided priorities or choices they make personally. Many suffer the consequences of decisions others have made such as infidelity, abuse and addictions. There are also trials that happen simply because this life is meant to be a period of testing.
“Illness, whether mental or physical, accidents, natural disasters and the death of loved ones are trials which all of us will deal with at one point or another. For some, despite all they have done to prepare, their lives don’t turn out as they would have chosen. There are many who desire marriage but for whom the right opportunity has not presented itself, and there are others who desperately want to be mothers but struggle with infertility. It is hard at times to trust that these kinds of challenges are also a part of God’s plan for His children.”
The challenges and trials of life are also a test of our willingness to submit to the Lord, she said. “Some people allow trials to challenge their faith in God’s purposes because they question whether or not a just God would allow such things to happen,” she said. “Others question whether or not God exists at all when trials seem randomly heaped upon them.
“How should a covenant-keeping daughter of God view the trials that come to her through no fault of her own? If she can keep an eternal perspective, even in trying times, she will begin to see challenges as opportunities for growth as she trusts in the Lord to help.”
Sister Oscarson asked the congregation to seek to understand what they are to learn from adversity, to remain steadfast and worthy and to serve those around them.
“I cannot help but believe that there is a tender place in the heart of our Heavenly Father for His daughters and sons who suffer because of the choices of others. He wants us to stay close to Him, to turn to Him and to let Him help us carry our burdens. I testify He will be there to help us through our challenges.”
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