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Viewpoint: 'The best days are ahead'

The 187th Semiannual General Conference was bittersweet. The death of Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles between sessions on Sunday led many of the faithful to reflect on a life of tireless service to the Lord.

It also provided a profound witness of the Lord’s tender mercies, as President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, felt prompted to leave conference to be at Elder Hales’ bedside.

Elder Hales, a General Authority since 1975, will be sorely missed. He has left a legacy of faith, service and testimony that will live on.

Also, President Thomas S. Monson’s absence at the conference for health reasons was felt deeply. His prophetic counsel, cheerful smile and warm spirit of optimism, a fixture of conferences since his calling to join the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1963, were sadly missed.

And yet it would be wrong to say President Monson was completely absent. His teachings were everywhere, reinforced time and again by those who spoke.

President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, reminded the Church that in April President Monson had spoken about the power of the Book of Mormon and urged everyone to read it daily, studying, pondering and applying its teachings.

“Like many of you, I heard the prophet’s words as the voice of the Lord to me,” he said. “And also, like many of you, I decided to obey those words.”

President Eyring said he had read the Book of Mormon every day for more than 50 years. “So perhaps I could reasonably have thought that President Monson’s words were for someone else. Yet, like many of you, I felt the prophet’s encouragement and his promise invite me to make a greater effort.”

What a great example for all Latter-day Saints. The result, he said, both for himself and many others, has been a greater closeness to the Spirit, greater power to resist temptation and greater faith in Christ.

“In a season of increasing tumult in the world, those increases in testimony have driven out doubt and fear and have brought us feelings of peace,” he said.

He added that it also has given him a sense of optimism in spite of worldwide commotion, as well as a greater sense of the Lord’s love for those in distress.

“We have felt an increase in the desire to go to the rescue of others,” President Eyring said. “That desire has been at the heart of President Monson’s ministry and teaching.”

His words were reinforced by President Nelson, who asked listeners to imagine what their lives would be like without the Book of Mormon.

“When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power,” he said. “The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console and cheer our souls.”

Conference was a reminder that the Lord has not left His children alone, even when His prophet is unable to attend in person. Church leaders spoke of the need to end all prejudice and bigotry, and to accept and love one another. They recounted how Church members have served others in the wake of recent hurricanes and other natural disasters. They reinforced the truths in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which is more relevant today than ever.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the “inner guidance system” humans have that, at some point in their lives, will draw them toward their heavenly home.

He urged people to begin to “walk the path of discipleship,” telling them that they will feel the confirmation that they have entered the right path, “and that you are returning home.”

Doing so, he said, will lead you to help others. “On your journey back to God you will soon realize that this journey isn’t just about focusing on your own life,” he said. “No, this path inevitably leads you to become a blessing in the lives of God’s other children — your brothers and sisters. And the interesting thing about the journey is that as you serve God, and as you care for and help your fellowmen, you will see great progress in your own life, in ways you can scarcely imagine.”

Adding to the Lord’s tender mercies, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles closed the conference by reading from a conference message Elder Hales had composed before his death, intending to give at conference.

“When we choose to have faith we are prepared to stand in the presence of God,” Elder Hales wrote, recounting how he gained his own testimony of the restored gospel through faith and obedience.

As with all previous conferences, this one provided direct communication between the Lord and the world through His anointed servants. Latter-day Saints understand, through restored gospel truths, that the bittersweet nature of life is swallowed up in the glorious knowledge of an eternal plan.

That was summed up nicely by President Eyring, who stressed a feeling of optimism.

“The best days are ahead for the kingdom of God on the earth,” he said — important words for all Church members to remember.

to read it daily, studying, pondering and applying its teachings.

“Like many of you, I heard the prophet’s words as the voice of the Lord to me,” he said. “And also, like many of you, I decided to obey those words.”

President Eyring said he had read the Book of Mormon every day for more than 50 years. “So perhaps I could reasonably have thought that President Monson’s words were for someone else. Yet, like many of you, I felt the prophet’s encouragement and his promise invite me to make a greater effort.”

What a great example for all Latter-day Saints. The result, he said, both for himself and many others, has been a greater closeness to the Spirit, greater power to resist temptation and greater faith in Christ.

“In a season of increasing tumult in the world, those increases in testimony have driven out doubt and fear and have brought us feelings of peace,” he said.

He added that it also has given him a sense of optimism in spite of worldwide commotion, as well as a greater sense of the Lord’s love for those in distress.

“We have felt an increase in the desire to go to the rescue of others,” President Eyring said. “That desire has been at the heart of President Monson’s ministry and teaching.”

His words were reinforced by President Nelson, who asked listeners to imagine what their lives would be like without the Book of Mormon.

“When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power,” he said. “The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console and cheer our souls.”

Conference was a reminder that the Lord has not left His children alone, even when His prophet is unable to attend in person. Church leaders spoke of the need to end all prejudice and bigotry, and to accept and love one another. They recounted how Church members have served others in the wake of recent hurricanes and other natural disasters. They reinforced the truths in the Family Proclamation, which is more relevant today than ever.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the “inner guidance system” humans have that, at some point in their lives, will draw them toward their heavenly home.

He urged people to begin to “walk the path of discipleship,” telling them that they will feel the confirmation that they have entered the right path, “and that you are returning home.”

Doing so, he said, will lead you to help others. “On your journey back to God you will soon realize that this journey isn’t just about focusing on your own life,” he said. “No, this path inevitably leads you to become a blessing in the lives of God’s other children — your brothers and sisters. And the interesting thing about the journey is that as you serve God, and as you care for and help your fellowmen, you will see great progress in your own life, in ways you can scarcely imagine.”

Adding to the Lord’s tender mercies, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve closed the conference by reading from a conference message Elder Hales had composed before his death, intending to give at conference.

“When we choose to have faith we are prepared to stand in the presence of God,” Elder Hales wrote, recounting how he gained his own testimony of the restored gospel through faith and obedience.

As with all previous conferences, this one provided direct communication between the Lord and the world through His anointed servants. Latter-day Saints understand, through restored gospel truths, that the bittersweet nature of life is swallowed up in the glorious knowledge of an eternal plan.

That was summed up nicely by President Eyring, who stressed a feeling of optimism.

“The best days are ahead for the kingdom of God on the earth,” he said — important words for all church members to remember.

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