Good things to come

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Saturday Afternoon Session of the October 1999 Conference.
This session contains one of my favorite talks—maybe my favorite talk—of all time, Elder Holland's "An High Priest of Good Things to Come." I've read it so many times. Some parts of it are always in my head. I put off reading it when I got to it this time, thinking "I've read it too many times and it's probably lost its power." But when I finally got through it to that last story ("Don't give up, boy. Don't you quit.") I found myself crying again. The power is still there, and I guess it's because those principles of hope and a brighter future are really true! And the spirit testifies of them every time I read them.

I've been thinking about the different reasons this talk has been meaningful to me over the years. My challenges and my fears have changed, certainly since I first heard the talk at age 19, but even in the past few years. I have a 20-year-old of my own now. I thought of him, in fact, as I read this talk. Watching Abe navigate the ups and downs of his mission has been so interesting because he seems to be so positive about everything! When I talk to him on the phone I will say, "…but really. Wasn't it discouraging when this happened?" or "But are you REALLY just happy being out in the rain all day?" I can't tell if he's consciously always trying to look on the bright side or if he's just made that way! If someone is rude, he thinks it makes a funny story; if there's a downpour, he thinks it's cool to get caught in it; if it's cold, he thinks the warm car feels even nicer when he gets back in. Sometimes I worry that someday he will run into something so hard, so devastating that he can't just shake it off. But why do I worry about that? If and when that time comes, he will probably be the more prepared to face it with optimism because of his practice choosing hope now.

I think that's what Elder Holland means by saying
Such counsel [to be of good cheer] is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!

I'm not who I was at age 20, but Elder Holland's advice is as good for me now as it was then. Whether hope comes instinctively (it does sometimes) or whether I have to claw my way toward it against all my instincts (I do sometimes)—I know the Savior would have me keep my eyes fixed on good things to come, which means keeping my eyes fixed on Him. I can't think of a single challenge in my life that is not improved when I do so. As Elder Holland so beautifully puts it,

Cling to your faith. Hold on to your hope. “Pray always, and be believing.”…Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek. He does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed.

There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—…it will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.

Other posts in this series:

This is the Gospel—by Nathaniel Givens

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