Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said he prepared his address for the 186th Semiannual General Conference in response to a meeting with a dear friend who was experiencing a “crisis of faith.”
“My friend, like perhaps some of you, asked the question so poignantly phrased in the Primary song, ‘Heavenly Father, are you really there?’ (“A Child’s Prayer,” Children’s Songbook, pp. 12-13). For those of you who may be asking this same question, I would like to share with you the counsel I would offer to my friend and hope that each of you may find your faith strengthened and your resolve renewed to be a committed disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Rasband began by reminding listeners of their divine identity. “No mistake, sin, or choice will change God’s love for us. That does not mean sinful conduct is condoned, nor does it remove our obligation to repent when sins are committed. But do not forget Heavenly Father knows and loves each of you and He is always ready to help.”
Quoting Helaman 5:12 where Helaman counsels his sons to “remember, remember,” Elder Rasband encouraged members to recall, especially in times of crisis, “when you felt the Spirit and your testimony was strong; remember the spiritual foundations you have built. I promise that if you will do this, avoiding things that do not build and strengthen your testimony, or that mock your beliefs, those precious times when your testimony prospered will return again to your memory through humble prayer and fasting. I assure you that you will once again feel the safety and warmth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
All must strengthen themselves spiritually then strengthen others. “No matter what mistakes we have made, or how imperfect we feel we are, we can always bless and lift others. Reaching out to them in Christ-like service can help us feel the love of God deep within our hearts,” he said.
Elder Rasband spoke of the “powerful counsel” found in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them to thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”
“Generations are affected by the choices we make,” Elder Rasband continued. “Share your testimony with your family; encourage them to remember how they felt when they recognized the Spirit in their lives, and to record those feelings in journals and personal histories so that their own words may, when needed, bring to their remembrance how good the Lord has been to them.”
Just as Helaman named his sons after their “first fathers,” Elder Rasband was named to honor his ancestors including early Mormon pioneers who joined the Church in Denmark. “I am determined to not forget my heritage and, because of my name, I will forever remember their legacy of faithfulness and sacrifice,” he said.
Elder Rasband counseled members to never forget, question or ignore personal spiritual experiences. “The adversary’s design is to distract us from spiritual witnesses while the Lord’s desire is to enlighten and engage us in His work.”
To his friend and to all who wish to bolster their faith, Elder Rasband promised, “As you faithfully live the gospel of Jesus Christ and abide by its teachings, your testimony will be protected, and it will grow. Keep the covenants you have made, regardless of the actions of those around you. Remain faithful and steadfast, even if storms of doubt invade your lives through the actions of others. Seek that which will edify and fortify you spiritually.”
Elder Rasband reminded listeners of the “tender words” of the prophet Alma: “Behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).
Elder Rasband declared, “To all who feel the need to have their faith fortified, I plead with you: Do not forget! Please, do not forget.”