PEACE IN CHRIST
Thank you, I am grateful to be here today. Starting from the prayer, to the testimony, to that beautiful musical number. The Spirit is so strong, and you, each of you brought that Spirit in here, that just didn’t come from people seating up here, you brought that here and I’m grateful for each of you. I’m grateful for you being here and I pray that the Holy Ghost will guide us. Each of us is trying to have daily peace. I would like to share my perspective of how that comes. I invite the Holy Ghost to be here and to teach us individually of how we can have peace.
My sister, Susan, is third in our family. She has a wonderful husband, Kim, and three dear children. This is a picture, of much younger, of those cute kids. And the title of this picture is “speak no evil, hear no evil, and see no evil.” So she took this picture and let me tell you a little bit about of each of them now. All have been raised the same to love Heavenly Father and the Savior and to serve and love others.
Her oldest son, Spencer, on the left met his wife at BYU. They got married and they have a darling character of a daughter whose name is Emmaline. Which he adores and loves her. He’s now a lawyer in Kentucky.
Becky in the middle is the youngest, she just started school at Utah State University, her home is in Wellsville, – if any of you know Cache valley – it’s 10 miles away but Becca moved from 10 miles over to her home at the Utah State University and is having a great time.
Merrill honestly is a genius. He is the one ‘see no evil.’ He is loving and kind. He stopped going to Church when he was 17, I don’t know exactly why. But when Merrill decided not to attend Church or believe in the gospel, Susan, his mother, became anxious. What was wrong? She had raised all three of her children the same way. Why did Merrill struggle believing? It took her a long time, discussions with family and friends and much prayer and fasting to determine that Heavenly Father was in charge and loved Merrill, too. Her opportunity was to be an example of the believers and love Merrill. And that is when the peace came.
This is Heidi, Heidi was our neighbor across the street, she needed a kidney. She had a genetic disease that she inherited from her father. She has two sons; Parker and Zane; 26 and 24 who also have the disease and a daughter, Abi, 18, who does not.
Heidi had many Priesthood blessings that said she would be healed and was always grateful and peaceful with that promise.
However, as the days and months continued, she got sicker and sicker with different autoimmune diseases, infection. She wondered about those Priesthood blessings. So many friends and family loved, blessed, and watched over her as she went through this process. Heidi was the most unselfish, loving person and was true to the Savior. In the end, she decided she would no longer do dialysis which meant that she would pass away. The acknowledgement of what was the Lord’s will came to her. In the end, she could not talk but she wrote on a slate, “I am not giving up. I am going home.” He gave her peace.
Now this is cute Vivi. Vivi moved from Boston to Provo with her family. She is a vivacious, energetic, creative, 7-year old with so much joy and happiness. She is going to first grade. Both her mother and father have testimonies of the gospel, they pray with their children, and are trying to raise children with love who love and respect Heavenly Father, the Savior and people around them.
The day before school started Vivi was quiet and withdrawn. This was very unusual for her and her parents wondered and asked if she was nervous but she didn’t respond. The next day she got up, dressed and went to school. When she came home, she cried for only 30 minutes.
First, she had lost her school class and had to get help to find it. Second, everyone else knew each other and were friends but she had no friends. Her dad wrote on the family snap chat, “Being the new kid was hard yesterday, but this girl worked through it and is excited to try again. Hopefully tomorrow she can remember someone else’s name besides the class rabbit’s…”
The second day of school was a different story. When she came through the door she was happy and excited. The first thing she wanted to do was call Aunt Jamie. Vivi had found a friend. Her name was Emma. And she went on and on talking about school and Emma and how great it was. She was excited and enthused and ready for life again. She had peace.
Now let’s talk about each of you. Each of you is experiencing many things that could destroy your peace and increase your fear and anxiety; including going to school in a foreign land, needing to work and go to school, wondering when there will be time to get it all done, etc, etc.
Having difficult things in our lives as you know, is part of Heavenly Father’s plan.
But I want you to know that the Lord knows you and all things that you will experience. He knows your situations and needs. He has created a plan for you to have joy and peace in this life and return to live with Him in eternal peace. I hope you feel that in your heart, I hope the Spirit will bear witness to you of that.
As you know, His plan includes coming to earth to receive a physical body and to be tested – Abraham 3:22-25 talks about this plan. Let’s just go over that:
22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; (probably each of you)
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
Not only will each of us be tested and tried, but this is a plan to see if you and I will do all things that the Lord asks us to do.
Of course you know, the plan also includes the creation of the world, the fall of man, the ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ (Alma 22:14), and the teachings found in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Alma 12:32-33).
One of the most important parts of the plan is the Atonement of Christ and that He lives today and I testify that He does live. Heavenly Father and the Savior have designed this plan for you. I testify that they know you and they love you. I testify that you are exactly enough for your plan. What is important in this life is that you and I do what the Lord wants us to do and to become like Him as we fulfil our individual plans.
Peace comes as we realize this truth that He knows us and loves us and that we are here to do His work. By you getting an education, you are promoting His work. When you help your fellow students you are doing His work. When you leave your experience here, you will continue to use your skills and talents for him, to do His work.
I love the accounts of the wars throughout the Book of Mormon. I know lots to think of, – what is the section?– I love the word section. In some ways it teaches us of the wars we deal with in our lives. Let me refer the incident in Alma 56-58. In 56, Helaman sends a letter explaining to Moroni how the war is going with the Lamanites. He shares the miracle of leading the 2000 stripling warriors to save the Nephites from destruction. He goes on to explain how he and these 2000 warriors retake the cities of Antiparah and Cumeni without one of the young men dying and how the Lord has delivered them.
The next city the Nephites needed to retake was Manti. It was important because it was on the dividing border between the Nephite and Lamanite territories, a protection and refuge against Lamanite invasion.
However, Helaman was discouraged and frustrated with this daunting challenge. First, because the Lamanites were more numerous, there many more of them than there were of the Nephites. Next, he had fewer men to fight because many of them were maintaining those parts of the land that they had already taken back from the Lamanites. Third, as you remember, the Nephites were not getting reinforcements or provisions. The men were weak and tired, while the Lamanites daily, were receiving other man to help and provisions. How would they overcome these challenges?
So let’s pause, let’s talk about you. Don’t you ever feel like this sometimes? When it seems that everything is against you. When you don’t know what you’re gonna do next. How will I get through this day? How will I get through this week, this month, or this year? Why is everything so hard? Each of us, I don’t care who you are –President or Sister Kusch, everyone on this front– wages our own daily wars. So, what can we learn from Helaman?
In Alma chapter 58, verse 10, it tells us what Helaman, and his fellow soldier, Gid and Teomner did. They prayed….Not just prayed, but they poured out their souls to God, pleading that He would strengthen and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies and give them strength to retain their cities, their lands and their possessions and the support of their people.”
I love how the Lord responded to that pleading. It says in verse 11, “The Lord, our God did visit us with assurances not maybe, not it might happened, He delivered us with assurances that He would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”
And then in verse 12 after the Lord did that, what does it say? “we did take courage…” we got courage after we plead to the Lord. The courage, peace, faith and hope came from the Lord, and when Helaman received these assurances he moved forward and this is what he did, and I love this part, and we need to remember this: He instructed Gid and Teomner to hide their small forces in the wilderness to the right and left of Helman’s army. When the Lamanite force which had many more soldiers came out to attack, Helaman led a mock retreat towards Zarahemla with the Lamanite army in hot pursuit. So Manti was left undefended and Gid and Teomner retook it easily. As the Lamanites got closer to Zarahemla, all the sudden they got thinking “uh, maybe this is a trap,” so they turned around, camped for the night before they began the journey back to Manti.
While they slept, of course Helaman did not sleep, marched his men back to the city. When the Lamanites arrived, they found the Nephites in control of Manti so fearing for their lives, this huge army, fled into the wilderness – pretty good.
Where did Helaman’s army get the courage to defeat an army much larger than theirs? The courage was a gift as they pled with the Lord. It came from the assurances or guarantees that the Lord gave to them that He would deliver them. What were those assurances again? Let’s just review it.
He did speak peace to their souls
He did cause them to hope
He did grant unto them great faith
He did cause them to hope for their deliverance in Him
Heavenly Father guided them to know what they should do.
Now, the wars we wage today are no different. As we plead with our Heavenly Father, as we know the Savior through the scriptures and trust in Him, obey the commandments and serve others, we (you) can have this peace, faith, hope and courage, I testify to you that this is true. He will bring thoughts to your mind and guide and direct you.
We recently read about the tragic death of Major Brent Taylor, husband, father of seven, mayor of North Ogden. He was fighting a war in Afghanistan to help others have peace. A friend of his wife told me he was a righteous man who pled with the Lord every day. His expectation was to return home to his family. But he was killed in camp by a Taliban insider, and they cheered after his dead.
This friend told me that while Afghanistan, Brother Taylor changed the life of an Afghan leader who after seeing Brother Taylor’s example of love and respect for his wife and children changed his behavior towards his own family. This man wrote to Brother Taylor’s wife and said he has never felt more love and peace since treating his wife and children with respect as demonstrated by Major Taylor.
How will Brother Taylor’s wife find peace when her heart and life are shattered?
She will pray and plead with Heavenly Father. She knows the road ahead for her will be hard. She also knows that eventually, not maybe right now, definitely not now, as she continues to plead, peace, faith and hope will come to her knowing that her husband is delivered through Christ and that she will be with him again.
Let’s go to an article that was in the Ensign April 1978, given by George S. Tate (written), assistant professor of comparative literature at Brigham Young University, and he shared this insightful information about peace.
The Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” has many meanings. Its primary meaning is completeness, wholeness, or even perfection. In the Old Testament, to have peace meant to keep a formal covenant of peace, a renewed ritually by “peace offerings” with Jehovah, to enter into a friendship with him.”
The Greek word for peace is “eirene” which means unity or harmony. I love these definitions that add to my understanding and feelings of peace.
Paul, the Apostle, understood Christ’s peace. He describes the atonement as the great peace offering: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1). He refers to Christ as the Lord or God of peace.
In Philippians 4:7,9, it says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus….and the God of peace shall be with you.”
Well let’s go to the Savior, what does He say about peace? In John 14:27 as He is leaving his disciples, He says, “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.” Catch this, the Savior does not merely wish peace, He is the one who gives peace.
He is the Prince of Peace, the deliverer of Peace. There is no peace separate from Him.
George Tate continues, “Freedom from violence (or hardships or difficulties) in this world is not promised. But with Christ’s peace comes the deep, inner assurance that all things, even our greatest sufferings, will be for our good. Just as Jesus hushed the storm with the words “Peace, be still” and brought calm (Mark 4:39) so can he speak peace to (your and my) troubled mind and soothe (your and my) grieving heart.”
“When Jesus visited His disciples after His resurrection, He said, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
“And when He had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22). Peace and the Holy Ghost go together. As testimony that each of you has as given by the Holy Ghost gives a sense of peace.” The Holy Ghost is the deliverer of His Peace.
I love the words from the song I Know That My Redeemer Lives, and think of this in connection to each you, He lives this to you:
“He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my souls complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.”
As Elder Richard G. Scott said,
“To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength, understanding, (and may I add peace). It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on.”
We all want peace. Where do we get it? From the Prince of Peace. I love this scripture in Isaiah 32:17, “And the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever.”
Let’s choose to be righteous. Let’s choose to have quietness and assurance forever. I testify to you that He does live, He does know you. He has a plan for each of you. Peace comes as we know these truths in our hearts and souls. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Julie Merrill, International Manager of Human Resources for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Julie Merrill was born in Seattle, Washington and is the oldest of five children born of Reed and Joan Merrill. She served a full-time mission in the England Leeds mission.
Julie received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University and her masters degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Utah. She currently works for the Church as an International Manager working with Human Resource staffs in Africa, Europe, Russia, and Canada.
She is currently serves as the ward Relief Society President.
Julie loves adventures including climbing to the tops of mountains, traveling and having new experiences. She loves family and friends and has a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.