Concluding an evening focused on the reality of the Savior Jesus Christ and His universal gifts of peace and love, President Henry B. Eyring acknowledged the many who are praying for strength this Christmas season to endure personal trials.
“I testify that the Savior and the Father have heard your petitions asking for relief and for that which is good for you and for those you love and serve,” said President Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, Dec. 5.
The answers will come, President Eyring assured, as they did to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who pleaded, “O God, where art thou?”
“Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes,’” President Eyring said, quoting the Lord’s response in Doctrine and Covenants 121.
“I know for myself that the promises are sure for you, for me and for those we love,” President Eyring continued. “The Lord has felt our pains. He chose out of love for us. He knows how to help us feel peace in adversity, even while the test continues. He will send friends as angels to stand by you ‘with warm hearts and friendly hands.’
“Our own hearts will be changed for the better as we endure personal trials through faith in Him. And with that change, we will ourselves become the friends the Lord can send as angels to others.”
The Savior’s mission
For President Eyring, the true spirit of Christmas — “the joy that comes in worshipping and loving the Lord Jesus Christ” — grows each time he reads scriptures that help him know who He was and who He is.
“From that reading and praying, I have come to know Jesus as Jehovah, who, under the direction of our Heavenly Father, was the Creator of all things.”
Detailing Paul’s description of the Savior in Hebrews 1:1-6, President Eyring said, “He towers above us, and yet, the events surrounding His mortal birth draw from us a feeling of His being close to us.
“He chose to come down from His throne at the right hand of the Father to take upon Him mortality. He did it out of love for every spirit son and daughter of His Father who would be born into the world. He did it out of love for you — and for me.”
God’s Beloved Son could have been born into any situation. Yet he was born in humble circumstances where humble shepherds welcomed Him and wise men were led by inspiration to find Him.
When the political leader ordered that Jesus be killed, He and His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, fled to a foreign country to preserve His life. After an angel told them they could return, they took Jesus to Nazareth. There He spent nearly 30 years, growing up and working as a carpenter, before His public ministry began.
“You might wonder, as I do, why it was necessary for the perfect Son of God to be sent on such a mission,” President Eyring said.
Jesus described the humble acceptance of His call with these words: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. … that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38-40).
Despite His place of power and majesty, Jesus chose common men — including fishermen, a tax collector and a zealot — to be His earthly disciples.
“He preached and associated with lepers, the sick, the maimed, the despised,” President Eyring said. “He loved and accepted the lowliest among them, despite His having come down from courts on high. He served them, loved them and lifted them up.”
Jesus exhibited loving kindness and restraint as He endured opposition and hatred. He knew this was part of the mission to which He was called and had accepted — a mission “to suffer for the sins and infirmities of all who come into mortal life.”
Jacob taught his people of the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “O how great the holiness of our God! … [H]e cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature … And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day” (2 Nephi 9:20-22).
‘Love as He loved’
The baby in Bethlehem was the Son of God, sent by the Father to become the Savior of the world. “He is our Exemplar,” President Eyring said.
“To have the spirit of Christmas, we must try to love as He loved. His words to you and to me are ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’ (John 15:12).
“You can feel the spirit of Christmas, as I have, in those words. I have felt the light and the optimism that comes from the influence of the Holy Ghost whenever I remember and ponder the example of the Savior of the World.”
“I know for myself that the promises are sure for you, for me, and for those we love.”
Mormon taught that the Lord stands ready to help “whatever befalls us,” President Eyring said. “God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing. …
“And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you” (Moroni 7:22-26).
President Eyring testified that the Lord’s promises are sure for all who endure trials through faith in Him.
“As His witness, I testify that the baby born in Bethlehem is Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God,” he said. “I promise that as you ask Heavenly Father in faith and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Spirit will bring feelings of peace to you and to your loved ones.
“I express my love to you with my wish that you may have a joyous Christmas season — this year and always.”