"Where can I turn for peace?" the well-known hymn asks. It is a question that a war-torn world asks with regularity these days as bombs explode, loved ones ship off and protests rage.
For faithful members of the Church, the answer last weekend was clear. You turn for peace to the Savior, and to His authorized servants who speak in His name.
The 173rd Annual General Conference of the Church was like a canteen full of cool and refreshing water to the parched souls wandering through the deserts of modern life. In Salt Lake City, someone overheard a complaint that the Church-owned Deseret News is the only paper that would push the war to the side of the front page to make way for conference coverage. In truth, if the world understood what was happening, if people knew that a prophet of God was going to tell the world what God would have them know at this time, people everywhere would be clamoring for news of it.
And those who listened to conference, or who will read of it later, can find an abundance of the reassurance of divinity, and of a Father in Heaven who cares for each of His children individually.
In his inspirational talk on war and peace, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Even when the armaments of war ring out in deathly serenade, and darkness and hatred reign in the hearts of some, there stands immoveable, reassuring, comforting, and with great outreaching love the quiet figure of the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. We can proclaim with Paul: 'For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' " (Romans 8:38.)
Later, in his closing remarks in the last session of conference, President Hinckley pleaded with people to pray for specific things. "Fathers and mothers, pray over your children. Pray that they may be shielded from the evils of the world. Pray that they may grow in faith and knowledge. Pray that they may be directed toward lives that will be profitable and good. Husbands, pray for your wives. Express unto the Lord your gratitude for them and plead with Him in their behalf. Wives, pray for your husbands. Many of them walk a very difficult road with countless problems and great perplexities. Plead with the Almighty that they may be guided, blessed, protected, inspired in their righteous endeavors.
"Pray for peace in the earth that the Almighty who governs the universe will stretch forth His hand and let His Spirit brood upon the people that the nations may not rage one against another. Pray for the weather. We have floods in one area and drought in another. I am satisfied that if enough prayers ascend to heaven for moisture upon the land, the Lord will answer those prayers for the sake of the righteous."
He asked more of members: "Pray for wisdom and understanding as you walk the difficult paths of your lives."
Such specific and inspired instruction and reassurance from a prophet of God is priceless in this age of uncertainty. It provides hope amid what often seems like an overwhelming wave of evil. Other General Authorities and officers of the Church added great counsel and inspiration on a variety of subjects that affect people in all age categories and in a variety of situations and conditions.
General conference has become a remarkable exercise in mass communication. The prophet Isaiah foretold of the day when "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." (Isaiah 2:2.) Sessions of this conference were translated into 56 languages. Through television, radio and the Internet, it could be heard and seen by millions worldwide — a flow of attention that is truly remarkable.
The world does indeed have a place where it can turn for peace, again and again. It is up to each individual now to study what was said at this conference and to give it meaning in a personal way.