Photo courtesy Sister Carol F. McConkie
Young women of the Coral Springs Ward are heartbroken at the loss of their friend, Alaina Petty, in the recent school shooting. They deeply miss her, but they have found and continue to seek peace in Christ.

I recently had the privilege of attending church with the young women of the Coral Springs Ward in Florida where young women are mourning the loss of LDS school shooting victim Alaina Petty. I witnessed the after effects of a severe traumatic and violent experience in the lives of those who are continually striving to increase their faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement. As I looked into their eyes, I saw overwhelming grief. But I also saw gratitude for an abundance of miracles and the assurance that God is deeply aware of their circumstances, that He loves them, and that He is very much in the details of their lives.

I saw the boxes of thoughtful gifts sent long distances from other groups of young women and their leaders around the world. I listened to the testimonies of young men and young women who stood as witnesses of God and lifted one another in unity and love. I felt sincere desire in the hearts of every ward member to bear one another’s burdens, to mourn with those who mourn and to comfort one another. The Spirit of the Lord was present in the efforts of those who keep the covenants made at baptism. All of these things were powerful assurances that in times of trial, testing, turmoil, and even terror, the peace the Savior offers, the peace that surpasses understanding, is real and available to us all.

The Savior taught His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” He promised that as they kept the commandments and thereby demonstrated their love for Him, He would show His love for them. Jesus Christ would manifest Himself to them. He said that He and His Father would make their abode with them.

How can He do that for us if He is not present? Jesus explained, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, … shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” And then He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (see John 14:18-27).

The Holy Ghost is another comforter. He is a friend, like Jesus Himself, to support and defend, to counsel, teach and help us along the covenant path. Jesus Christ does not promise that He will take away all of our afflictions, nor does He promise that He will change our circumstances, but with faith, we see many miracles. What Jesus Christ promises is that as we keep His commandments we will have the Holy Ghost. And, by the Spirit, we may feel His redeeming love and obtain peace.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.”

To feel the Savior’s love, Elder Holland continues, “Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (“Like A Broken Vessel,” October 2013 general conference).

For my friends in Coral Springs, Florida, perhaps the greatest miracle was that they could find peace. Many had gone to the House of the Lord and felt His presence there. For most, the peace came as they reached out to one another in pure Christlike love. Others were blessed by sacred music, especially the words of the 2018 youth theme song, “Peace in Christ”:

There is peace in Christ

When we learn of Him.

Feel the love He felt for us

When He bore our sins.

Listen to His words;

Let them come alive.

If we know Him as He is

There is peace in Christ.

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With the Holy Ghost, we receive peace in Christ in our own hearts and we become emissaries of the Savior’s peace to others. With the Holy Ghost we learn to love and serve one another as Jesus Christ would do if He were here personally to minister to our sorrows, our pain, our grief, and all the afflictions of mortality. By the Holy Ghost we may feel the healing and cleansing power of our Redeemer’s infinite Atonement.

As leaders and parents of youth, let us help them feel and know by the Holy Ghost, that in the troubled world in which they live, lasting peace is in Jesus Christ.