Recounting the story of Daniel who, as a prisoner-student in Babylon, remained faithful to God in the face of intense social pressure and was thus able to interpret the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf asked the congregation in the priesthood session of general conference, “Are we like Daniel?”
“Do we stand loyal to God,” asked President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency. “Do we practice what we preach, or are we Sunday Christians only? Do our daily actions reflect clearly what we claim to believe? Do we help the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted? Do we just talk the talk, or do we enthusiastically walk the walk?”
It would have been easier for Daniel to simply go along with the ways of Babylon, President Uchtdorf suggested. “He would have been popular. He would have fit in. His path might have been much less complicated.
“That is, of course, until the day when the king demanded an interpretation of his dream. Then Daniel would have found that he, like the rest of Babylon’s ‘wise men,’ had lost his connection to the true source of light and wisdom.
“Daniel passed his test. Ours still continues.”
President Uchtdorf warned that Satan “slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naïve, blind or brainwashed. He will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of the prophets.”
He declared, “I wish I could help everyone understand this one simple fact: We believe in God because of things we know with our heart and mind, not because of things we do not know. Our spiritual experiences are sometimes too sacred to explain in worldly terms, but that doesn’t mean they are not real.”
President Uchtdorf said Heavenly Father has prepared for His children a spiritual feast, yet instead of enjoying spiritual gifts, “the cynics content themselves with observing from a distance, sipping from their cups of skepticism, doubt and disrespect.”
He noted that believers often hear others say, “I wish I could believe the way you do.”
“Implied in such a statement is another of Satan’s deceptions: that belief is available to some people but not to others,” he observed. “There is no magic to belief. But wanting to believe is the necessary first step! God is no respecter of persons. He is your Father. He wants to speak to you. However, it requires a little scientific curiosity — it requires an experiment upon the word of God — and the exercise of a particle of faith. It also takes a little humility. And it requires an open heart and an open mind. It requires seeking, in the full meaning of the word. And, perhaps hardest of all, it requires being patient and waiting upon the Lord.”
President Uchtdorf spoke of an Aaronic Priesthood bearer who seemed to take pride in the fact he had distanced himself from God. “If God reveals Himself to me, then I will believe,” the young man reportedly said. “Until then, I will find the truth relying on my own understanding and intellect to light the way before me.”
“Unfortunately,” President Uchtdorf said, “this seems to be quite a popular attitude today.”
He declared, “There is nothing noble or impressive about being cynical. Skepticism is easy — anyone can do it. It is the faithful life that requires moral strength, dedication and courage. Those who hold fast to faith are far more impressive than those who give in to doubt when mysterious questions or concerns arise.”
President Uchtdorf said it is not surprising that faith is not valued in a secular society, because the world has a long history of rejecting that which it does not understand. “And it has particular trouble understanding things it cannot see. But just because we cannot see something with our physical eyes does not mean it doesn’t exist.”
He affirmed, “When we choose to believe, exercise faith unto repentance and follow our Savior Jesus Christ, we open our spiritual eyes to splendors we can scarcely imagine. Thus our belief and faith will grow stronger, and we will see even more.”
President Uchtdorf testified that even in the toughest of times the Savior gives the assurance He did to an anxious father in Galillee: “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
“We can choose to believe,” he said, “for in belief we discover the dawn of light. We will discover truth. We will find peace.”
He concluded with the admonition: “Have courage to believe. Be not afraid, only believe. Stand with Daniel.”
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