In the closing moments of the 190th Semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson looked to the worldwide virtual audience and asked them to embrace “a new normal.”
“The challenge for you and me is to make certain that each of us will achieve his or her divine potential,” he said Sunday afternoon. “Today we often hear about ‘a new normal.’ If you really want to embrace ‘a new normal,’ I invite you to turn your heart, mind and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your ‘new normal.’”
Latter-day Saints can embrace a new normal by repenting daily, seeking to be increasingly pure in thought and deed, ministering to others, keeping an eternal perspective and magnifying their callings.
“My dear brothers and sisters, live each day so that you are more prepared to meet your Maker,” he said.
At the conclusion of the conference held amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, President Nelson asked members to let God prevail in their lives, overcome prejudice, embrace the future with faith and move forward.
He announced six new temples — Tarawa, Kiribati; Port Vila, Vanuatu; Lindon, Utah; Greater Guatemala City, Guatemala; Sao Paulo East, Brazil; and Santa Cruz, Bolivia — bringing the total number of temples dedicated, announced or under construction to 231.
The temples will bless a world where news reports are filled with accounts of violence, moral denigration and a deadly global pandemic. Lives are being disrupted and many feel isolated and alone, said President M. Russell Ballard during the Sunday morning session.
“I think often of those of you who are suffering, worried, afraid or feeling alone. I assure each one of you that the Lord knows you, that He is aware of your concern and anguish, and that He loves you — intimately and personally, deeply and forever.
“Each night when I pray, I ask the Lord to bless all who are burdened with grief, pain, loneliness and sadness. I know that other Church leaders echo that same prayer. Our hearts, individually and collectively, go out to you and our prayers go to God on your behalf.”
Prayers are needed today for the nations of the earth.
“No matter how you pray or to whom you pray, please exercise your faith — whatever your faith may be — and pray for your country and for your national leaders. … This is not about politics or policy. This is about peace and the healing that can come to individual souls as well as to the souls of countries.”
Elder Ulisses Soares taught seeking the Savior in every thought and following Him with a full purpose of heart requires aligning one’s mind and desires with His. This means living life in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ and focusing “on everything that is good.”
Sister Lisa Harkness said Sunday morning that regardless of their circumstances, Latter-day Saints can intentionally make efforts “to build and increase our faith in Jesus Christ.”
Recent events around the globe have buffeted nations, communities and individuals with unforeseen trials, she said. In such times of turmoil, “our faith can feel stretched to the limits of our endurance and understanding.” But it is in these “rough stretches of our journey” that faith is often fortified.
“Regardless of our circumstances, we can intentionally make efforts to build and increase our faith in Jesus Christ. … Our faith increases as we choose to believe rather than doubt, forgive rather than judge, repent rather than rebel. Our faith is refined as we patiently rely on the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen said members can do better about speaking of Jesus Christ in their homes, with their children, in worship services, and with those around them, including on social media.
“As the world speaks less of Jesus Christ, let us speak more of Him,” he said Sunday morning.
President Henry B. Eyring said Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want all to return to Them and become like Them. “Your success is Their success,” he said Sunday afternoon.
God’s purpose in the Creation of this world was “to give His children the opportunity to prove themselves able and willing to choose the right when it is hard,” President Eyring said. By so doing, each person would have the opportunity to change their natures to become more like Him and “He knew that would require unshakable faith in Him.”
The greatest blessing — a change in nature to become more like Him — will come only “when we prove ourselves faithful to our covenants during our trials” and when we “notice the tribulation of others and try to help,” said President Eyring. In lifting the burdens of others, even a little, “Our backs are strengthened and we sense a light in the darkness.”
Elder Gary E. Stevenson said Sunday afternoon that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Latter-day Saints around the globe have had their lives upended. Missions, temple work and traditional Sabbath-day worship were disrupted. Some have lost loved ones. Many have dealt with heartbreaking disappointment, sorrow and discouragement.
“So how do we heal, endure and move forward when things seemed broken?” Nephi from the Book of Mormon provides a timeless answer. He knew many afflictions during his lifetime. Yet his gospel perspective allowed him to see that he had been “highly favored of the Lord.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund said Sunday afternoon that Latter-day Saints assimilate the attributes of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by loving one another and following the covenant path.
“A just person turns away from sin and toward God, makes covenants with Him and keeps those covenants. A just person chooses to obey the commandments of God, repents when falling short and keeps on trying.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland questioned: How long does one wait for relief from pandemics or personal trials, from hardships and burdens — even when spiritual efforts and pleading prayers do not yield yearned-for results?
“While we work and wait together for the answers to some of our prayers, I offer you my apostolic promise that they are heard and they are answered, though perhaps not at the time or in the way we wanted,” he said Saturday afternoon. “But they are always answered at the time and in the way an omniscient and eternally compassionate parent should answer them.”
President Nelson closed general conference asking members to look to the Lord Jesus Christ, who directs the Church.
“My dear brothers and sisters, I bless you to be filled with the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. His peace is beyond all mortal understanding. I bless you with an increased desire and ability to obey the laws of God. I promise that as you do, you will be showered with blessings, including greater courage, increased personal revelation, sweeter harmony in your homes, and joy, even amid uncertainty.
“May we go forward together to fulfill our divine mandate — that of preparing ourselves and the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.”