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Elder Andersen says for the righteous, ‘Christmas means all will be well’

Stories surrounding the Savior’s birth teach powerful lessons, says Elder Neil L. Andersen

Elisabeth and Zacharias waited for a baby, Mary and Joseph were given a path to follow, and the believers in the New World watched for a sign. Each faced uncertainties and difficulties but remained trusting and faithful. And in the end, all was well.

The beautiful stories surrounding Jesus Christ’s birth at Christmas time include powerful lessons, taught Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, Dec. 4.

“With all the worry and uncertainty, the difficulties and the trouble that follow us here in our mortal life, for those who are righteous, who have faith and trust in the Lord, in the end, all will be well.”

Elder Andersen began by testifying that Christ came to the earth — as the Only Begotten of the Father, in the meridian of time and in the humblest of conditions. And because He came, all those who have lived upon the earth will live again and may inherit eternal life if they choose.

He then shared some of the stories surrounding Christmas and the lesson that “all will be well.”

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Elisabeth and Zacharias

Luke chapter 1 tells of a righteous couple named Elisabeth and Zacharias, who grew old while not being blessed with children. Yet they were faithful and trusted in the Lord.

Elder Andersen used the musical drama “Savior of the World” to reflect upon what they might have said to each other and felt in their hearts.

“Zacharias declares to Elisabeth, ‘We have not been chosen to have children. But we still trust in the Lord.’ And then they sing, ‘I’ll give God forever, but not to do my will. If it’s not to be, giving Him forever means I’ll wait and watch and see. I’ll let Him lead me on until my hours, my days, my years are gone,’” Elder Andersen quoted.

Then a miracle happened. In the temple, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and told him Elisabeth would bear a son named John, and he would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:11-17). 

Elder Andersen said to think of the feelings that would have come to Elisabeth and Zacharias, who, during the years they had prayed for children, continued to keep the commandments and trust in the Lord.

Crowd members sings along with the choir as they attend the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“Then, an angel appeared to Zacharias, but in the aftermath, he could not speak. He may have wondered about his standing before the Lord,” Elder Andersen said. “But in due time, the baby was born. Zacharias could speak again. And the baby became John the prophet, who prepared the way for the Savior. 

“With all the uncertainty and difficulty, for the righteous, in the end, all is well.”

Mary and Joseph

Next in the Christmas story, readers of the book of Luke meet Mary — chosen to be the mother of the Son of God.

“And yet there is concern and uncertainty in her life,” Elder Andersen said. Gabriel told her of her noble calling, yet she was unsure how it could be done. 

Gabriel explained that the power of the Holy Ghost would come upon her and the power of the Highest would overshadow her and she would conceive the Son of God (Luke 1:34-35).

“Think of what joy and happiness she must have felt to be visited by an angel of God. How humbling as she contemplated being the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. And yet, in telling Joseph, all was not settled,” Elder Andersen said.

Joseph was a just man but uncertain of the right path to follow. An angel came to him in a dream and said, “Joseph … fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Now it was clear that Joseph and Mary were to take this path together, Elder Andersen said. 

“How happy Mary must have been to know that an angel had appeared to Joseph. How happy Joseph must have been to know this was the will of God. With the uncertainty and difficulty, for the righteous, in the end, all is well.”

Difficulty still lay ahead, as the couple had to travel to Bethlehem in the days close to Mary’s delivery. Then, there was no room in the inn, and the couple must have felt worried. But the baby was born, and He was healthy. 

An angel appeared to shepherds to tell them the tidings of great joy, and they then went to Bethlehem to find the baby Jesus.

“And as they found the Christ child, what comfort and reassurance Joseph and Mary must have felt as they realized there was purpose in the difficulty that surrounded them,” Elder Andersen said. “The angels had declared His coming and His noble mission. After the struggle and the uncertainty, for the righteous, in the end, all is well.”

The believers in the New World

The righteous people in the Book of Mormon waited with troubles, uncertainties and concerns for a sign of the Savior’s birth.

The prophet Samuel had prophesied that the Savior’s birth would be five years in the future — but as the day approached, the unbelievers declared that all those who believed the Savior would come would be put to death, except the sign should come to pass (3 Nephi 1:9).

“Imagine the uneasiness and concern of the righteous,” Elder Andersen said.

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks at the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

 Nephi cried mightily to God on behalf of his people. Then, “the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying: Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world” (3 Nephi 1:13).

The words were fulfilled, and at the going down of the sun, there was no darkness. They knew it was the day that the Lord would be born.

“With all the difficulties and uncertainty, for the righteous, for those who trust in God, in the end, whether in this life or when we kneel at His feet, all will be well,” Elder Andersen said.

Trust in the Lord

Elder Andersen said in thinking about that time, one could ask why the Lord would wait until the very last night to tell Nephi, or why He allowed Elisabeth and Zacharias to grow old or Mary to wonder about her course, Joseph to question his place and the role of a manger and shepherds and angels be unknown at first.

As the Lord told Abraham 2,000 years before Christ’s birth, “We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25). And Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Elder Andersen concluded, “In our own times of uncertainty, in our days of trouble and difficulty, in our struggles, let us be faithful.”

Jesus came that holy night and is the Savior of the World. 

“I witness that as we are righteous, all our tears of sorrow, difficulty, and uncertainty, will be met and made right in Him, the beloved Son of God.”

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