Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — On the day before what would have been his 65th wedding anniversary, President Thomas S. Monson spoke personally and movingly of his wife's recent death and his assurance that God is with us in times of adversity during the Sunday morning session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass," said the 86-year-old church leader, who is observing the 50th anniversary of his call to the church's Quorum of the Twelve during this conference.
"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 we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before."
For President Monson, the passing of his beloved wife, Frances, six months ago was such a time of sorrow and grief.
"She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant and my closest friend," he said. "To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings ... She was an angel, indeed."
President Monson said his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been "of utmost comfort to me during this tender time of parting," including "the knowledge I have that my dear Frances lives still."
"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."
During times of suffering, "there is a temptation to ask the question, 'Why me?,'" President Monson said.
"At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night's darkness," he said. "We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hope. We join in uttering the biblical plea, 'Is there no balm in Gilead?' We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required."
At such times, President Monson said, "a fundamental question remained 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," he said. "To finish involves enduring to the very end of life itself."
Those who have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives find that "this is what will pull us through whatever comes our way," President Monson said.
"We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head on and to emerge victorious. From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: 'I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.' Such comfort is priceless."
As he concluded his remarks, President Monson urged his listeners to "have a commitment to our Heavenly Father that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives."
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