There will be times in every person’s life “when we find ourselves on an unexpected path” and face unforeseen circumstances.
It is essential to remember that “we are spirit sons and daughters of God and we accepted His plan by which we could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience” and “ultimately realize our divine destiny as heirs of eternal life,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
No amount of change, trial or opposition can alter one’s eternal course — only how one exercises choice and agency. he said.
Bishop Waddell said he has seen family and friends face challenges caused by the death of a loved one, divorce, never having the opportunity to marry, serious illness or even natural disasters.
“Although each ‘change’ may be unique to our individual circumstances, there is a common element in the resulting trial or challenge — hope and peace are always available through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” he said. “The atonement of Jesus Christ provides the ultimate corrective and healing measures to every wounded body, damaged spirit and broken heart.”
The Savior knows in ways that no one else can understand what each individual needs to move forward in the midst of change.
“Unlike our friends and loved ones, the Savior not only sympathizes with us, but he can empathize perfectly, because he has been where we are,” he said. “In addition to paying the price and suffering for our sins, Jesus Christ also walked every path, dealt with every challenge, faced every hurt ... physical, emotional or spiritual ... that we will ever encounter in mortality.”
During mortality, he said, people can’t control all that happens in their lives — but they have absolute control over how they respond.
Bishop Waddell taught that the Lord has provided His children with numerous resources to deal with life’s challenges, including: regular scripture study, frequent prayer, worthily partaking of the sacrament, regular temple attendance, priesthood blessing, wise counseling and medication that is properly prescribed and used.
“Whatever change in life’s circumstance may come our way, and whatever unexpected path we may have to travel, how we respond is a choice. Turning to the Savior and grasping His outstretched arm is always our best option.”