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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaks at the morning session of the 183rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2013.

Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.

"From time to time, our lives may seem to be touched by, or even wrapped in darkness," said President Uchtdorf. "Sometimes the night that surrounds us will appear oppressive, disheartening and frightening. My heart grieves for the many sorrows some of you face, for the painful loneliness and wearisome fears you may be experiencing.

"Nevertheless, I bear witness that our living hope is in Christ Jesus! He is the true, pure and powerful entrance to divine enlightenment. I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed."

Speaking Sunday morning, President Uchtdorf talked about Danish artist Johan Benthin's painting titled, Entrance to Enlightenment, which can be a metaphor for life. The painting shows a dark room with an open door from which light is shining. The light coming through the door does not illuminate the entire room — only the space immediately in front of the door.

"It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might have lost a loved one; a child might have strayed; we might have received a troubling medical diagnosis; we might have employment challenges and be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved.

"But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances, God promises the hope of His light — He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness."

President Uchtdorf spoke of a young woman rose from the darkness that surrounded her in an abusive childhood to find light for her own life and bless the lives of others through the practical application of faith, hope and charity.

"There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you," he said. "You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth — God's light is real. It is available to all. It gives life to all things. ... It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn."

However, he warned, spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch.

"It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the Light of Christ," he said. "Spiritual light cannot be discerned by carnal eyes."

President Uchtdorf told the worldwide congregation that there are three ways to open their eyes to the hope of God's light.

First, start where you are. "Isn't it wonderful to know we don't have to be perfect to experience the blessings and gifts of our Heavenly Father? We don't have to wait to cross the finish line to receive God's blessings. In fact, the heavens begin to part and the blessings of heaven begin to distill upon us with the very first steps we take toward the light."

Second, turn your heart toward the Lord. "Lift up your soul in prayer, and explain to your Heavenly Father what you are feeling. Acknowledge your shortcomings. Pour out your heart and express your gratitude. Let Him know of the trials you are facing. Plead with Him in Christ's name for strength and support. Ask that your ears may be opened, that you may hear His voice. Ask that your eyes may be opened that you may see His light."

Third, walk in the light. "Your Heavenly Father knows that you will make mistakes. He knows that you will stumble — perhaps many times. This saddens Him, but He loves you. He does not wish to break your spirit. On the contrary, He desires that you rise up and become the person you were designed to be. To that end, He sent His Son to illuminate the way and show us how to safely cross the stumbling blocks placed in our path."

President Uchtdorf said that light overcomes darkness.

"Yes, we will make mistakes. Yes, we will falter. But as we seek to increase our love for God and strive to love our neighbor, the light of the gospel will surround and uplift us. The darkness will surely fade, because it cannot exist in the presence of light. As we draw near to God, He will draw near to us."

President Uchtdorf recounted a time some years ago when he and his wife, Harriet, went to West Africa, a country with many challenges; families struggle to provide for their daily needs and for their safety. Yet the Uchtdorfs discovered a joyful people who were radiating with light. During the meeting when the power went out, the members began singing. "In the midst of great darkness, the beautiful, wonderful Saints had filled this Church building and our souls with light."

President Uchtdorf testified that darkness cannot stand before the brilliant light of the Son of the Living God.

"I invite each of you to open your heart to Him. Seek Him through study and prayer. Come to His Church — even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, learn of Him and of His gospel, participate actively, help each other and joyfully serve our God. Brothers and sisters, even after the darkest night, the Savior of the world will lead you to a gradual, sweet and bright dawn that will assuredly rise within you."