President Thomas S. Monson told Latter-day Saints gathered worldwide on Sunday morning that whenever they are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, to remember that others have passed the same way, have endured and then have overcome.
“The history of the Church in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times, is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer,” he said. “The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives.
"This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head on, and to emerge victorious.”
President Monson said that six months ago, as Church members gathered for general conference, his sweet wife lay in the hospital, having suffered a devastating fall just a few days earlier. “In May, after weeks of valiantly struggling to overcome her injuries, she slipped into eternity,” he said. “Her loss has been profound.”
President Monson said he married his wife Oct. 7, 1948, in the Salt Lake Temple. “Tomorrow would have been our 65th wedding anniversary. She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant and my closest friend. To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings.”
President Monson said his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that his wife lives still is of utmost comfort to him during this tender time of passing.
“I know that our separation is temporary,” he said. “We were sealed in the House of God by one having authority to bind on earth and in heaven. I know that we will be reunited one day and will never again be separated. This is the knowledge that sustains me.”
No person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and sorrow, nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil and misery, President Monson explained.
“The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure,” he said. “A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish? Some do falter as they find themselves unable to rise above their challenges. To finish involves enduring to the very end of life itself.”
While traveling the world as the leader of the Church, President Monson said he has come to know many things — not the least of which is that sadness and suffering are universal.
“I cannot begin to measure all of the heartache and sorrow I have witnessed as I have visited with those who are dealing with grief, experiencing illness, facing divorce, struggling with a wayward son or daughter or suffering the consequences of sin,” he said. “The list could go on and on, for there are countless problems which can befall us.”
President Monson said whenever he thinks of challenges his thoughts turn to Brother Brems, one of his boyhood Sunday School teachers. In 1968, he lost his wife. As the years went by, two of his children also passed away. At age 105, Brother Brems asked his family to call President Monson to his bedside. Brother Brems was blind and deaf and communicated as letters were traced on the palm of his hand. President Monson gave Brother Brems a blessing. “Afterward, tears streamed from his sightless eyes. He grasped our hands in gratitude. Although he had not heard the blessing we had given him, the Spirit was strong, and I believe he was inspired to know we had provided the blessing which he needed.
“This sweet man could not longer see. He could no longer hear. He was confined night and day to a small room in a care center. And yet the smile of his face and the words he spoke touched my heart. ‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘My Heavenly Father has been so good to me.’”
Heavenly Father knows that His children learn and grow and become stronger as they face and survive trials, President Monson said.
“We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were — better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.”
President Monson said only the Master knows the depth of “our trials, our pain and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity.”
In good times and hard times, the Master is there, President Monson said. “He has promised that this will never change.
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“My brothers and sisters, may we have a commitment to our Heavenly Father that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crisis of our lives. We should not need to experience difficulties for us to remember Him, and we should not be driven to humility before giving Him our faith and trust.
“May we ever strive to be close to our Heavenly Father. To do so, we must pray to Him and listen to Him every day. We truly need Him every hour, whether they be hours of sunshine or of rain.”