Monday, October 6, 2008

Best of Times, Worst of Times?

We tend to view the world through the prism of our own life. If things are going well for us, then things are generally good everywhere. If things are going badly for us, everyone must be struggling, right? We hear the news of financial crisis, terrorist plots and governemental turmoil. Sometimes we are so bombarded with negative news, we fail to focus on the blessings in our lives.

Times may be difficult, but there have been tough times before. Do we stop to realize how blessed we are to live in a world where the restored gospel is alive and well. A world where prophets lead us, and offer words of comfort and counsel? We cannot afford to become pessimistic. As President Hinkley said, "We have every reason to be optimistic in this world. Tragedy is around, yes. Problems everywhere, yes. … You can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen" (from Ensign, June 1995, 4).

We can choose to dwell on the negative, or we can choose to focus on the positive in our lives. President Hinckley continued, "The gospel is a thing of joy. It provides us with a reason for gladness. Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice."

So what should we be focused on? The Savior and the blessings of His gospel. The gospel is the "good news" because through the Savior we can all be saved from spiritual and physical death. If we simply follow God's plan, we will have success and joy, regardless of the temporal trials that come upon us. We should focus on the good around us, the caring, the giving, the people who serve others faithfully. We should focus on our families, on friends and the generosity and helpfulness of those around us. We need to focus on the words of the living prophet and set our lives according to his counsel so that we follow the Lord in all things.

Just two days ago, during the Saturday morning session of the LDS General Conference, President Monson announced the plans for 5 new temples to be built, including one in the "greater Kansas City area". The phrasing of the "greater Kansas City area" is interesting and unique, and lends itsself to some speculation among members about the exact location where the temple will be built. As a resident of this "greater Kansas Cirt area" I am thrilled. Regardless of whether the temple is built at Far West, Adam-Ondi-Ahman or Independence, where dedicated Temple Sites already exist, or in Lenexa Kansas or Lee's Summing Missouri, this announcement is proof positive that the work of the Lord continues to roll forth.

If we are prepared, if we are on the Lords side, we need not fear, come what may. We hope the financial crisis corrects so that the pain and suffering is limited and remedied quickly. But whether it is or not, we can be optimistic in the plan of the Father. He will not fail, and any suffering that we experience is but for a moment, and if we allow, will strengthen us to make us better instruments in His hands.

Some may say it is the worst of times, and in some ways they may be right. But it is definitely the best of times, living in the days of restoration and fulfillment of prophesy. The Lords work will progress. If we avoid discouragement and despair, if we stay happy and optimistic, we may have the opportunity to serve Him, and be a part of the miracles that are already happening as well as those to come.

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