The Lord Is My Light

Because our life is characterized by “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), our days are sometimes overshadowed by discouraging thoughts and feelings. Boyd K. Packer, a modern apostle, recognized that reality and shared encouraging counsel, saying, “Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration…. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind.” Thus, when discouragement has settled over me, I’ve made an effort to invite hope by singing to myself the words of James Nicholson’s hymn “The Lord Is My Light,” a musical reminder that Jesus Christ lives and that His light can overpower any sorrow:

The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?

To a gathering in Jerusalem, Jesus taught, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). I’ve written before about the confidence we can have and ought to have in the presence of the Lord: He knows us and our circumstances perfectly, and He knows how to help us. Surely, because of His love and power, we ought to be able to feel secure and confident in His care. Speaking of Jesus’ desire to help us in our trials, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “I am convinced that none of us can appreciate how deeply it wounds the loving heart of the Savior of the world when he finds that his people do not feel confident in his care or secure in his hands.” Admittedly, it can be difficult to put my trust in His power when the storms of life rage about me, but I know that I’ve found peace and confidence when I’ve turned my heart to Him and left my troubles at His feet. Indeed, with Him as our light, what have we to fear?

Jesus Christ is the Light and the Life of the world. (Image credit: lds.org)

Jesus Christ is the Light and the Life of the world. (Image credit: lds.org)

He is my salvation from sorrow and sin

Prophesying of the life and mission of the Savior, the Book of Mormon prophet Alma said:

[H]e shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. (Alma 7:11-13)

In these magnificent verses, we see first that Jesus Christ endured death in order to free us from death. With his resurrection, He won the victory—a victory He shares freely with us all—so that we may live again after this life. Further, we see that Christ suffered for our infirmities. He bore the pains and struggles of weakness, sickness, and despair. We cannot, therefore, suffer any sorrow that He hasn’t already experienced. He knows what bothers us, He knows what discourages us, and He knows how we feel. Having suffered the weight of our sorrows, He is full of a loving desire to relieve us so long as we will turn to Him and allow Him to help. Countless times, He has helped me—even if only to encourage me—and I have felt relief; however, He has never forced me to be comforted. Comfort has only come as I’ve turned to Him and asked for His help. Finally, the above verses teach that Christ not only suffered and overcame death and our sorrows—He also paid the price of our sins, redeeming us from the errors we have made. What a great blessing that is: when we see the standard of heaven and compare it to our shortcomings, that comparison can, at times, be disheartening enough. However, thanks to Christ’s atoning grace, we can rest in the knowledge that He is our salvation from sorrow and sin: our mistakes will not condemn us as long as we turn to Him and commit to improve.

In all things, Jesus lived and lives to lighten our loads and brighten our lives (Image credit: lds.org).

In all things, Jesus lived and lives to lighten our loads and brighten our lives (Image credit: lds.org).

Tho clouds may arise, faith stronger than sight looks up through the skies

One of the reasons that I love this hymn is for the way that it encourages me to look up through the dark clouds to see “Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign.” When troubles abound, it can be difficult to find a reason to rejoice, difficult to see anything good in the midst of sorrows great and small. When I pause to reflect on the words of this hymn, it gives me a fresh perspective—a better vantage from which to see my troubles. Knowing, as the song teaches, that Jesus is always over us, reigning in love and glory, I can see that strife is temporary and that my Advocate and Friend is over all things. As I’ve paused to reflect on the fact that Jesus Christ truly does reign, even when things seems dark and difficult, I’ve recognized the truth of what Elder Carl B. Cook taught when he said:

Experience has taught me that if we…exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy. We will come to realize that most of what we worry about is not of eternal significance—and if it is, the Lord will help us.

Though clouds of darkness arise in our lives, we can know that our Savior reigns, that nothing will go permanently wrong, and that He won’t expect us to face any challenge alone.

"[T]ho clouds may arise, / Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies / Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign" (Image credit: lds.org).

“[T]ho clouds may arise, / Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies / Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign” (Image credit: lds.org).

I know in His might, I’ll conquer at length. My weakness in mercy he covers with pow’r

Occasionally, our sorrows come because of our own inability to live up to heaven’s standards or to our own expectations. I think one of the great joys of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it not only shows us the way to distance ourselves from our shortcomings but also empowers us to become our best selves. Jesus isn’t just interested in helping us to stop being bad—He also wants to help us to become great. David O. McKay, who served as a prophet of God and as President of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, explained, “The purpose of the gospel is…to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature.” That is, Christ isn’t satisfied with just removing the bad from us and our lives. Instead, He wants to enrich us with goodness, joy, and hope. He wants not only us but also our lives to be filled with light—light that only He can give. Sometimes, overcoming trouble and reaching success takes time, but we can be confident that, with Christ as our partner, we can overcome weakness and develop strength. He wants to help us to succeed gloriously.

He is my Redeemer, my Savior, and King. With Saints and with angels his praises I’ll sing.

In my continuing efforts to follow the Savior, I have learned that a Christian life does not mean a life without difficulty. In fact, it may sometimes feel as though it means quite the opposite. However, I have learned that solutions and relief come through Jesus Christ. He is my Redeemer, paying the price for my errors; He is my Savior, lifting me above the sorrows and difficulties of life; He is my King, reigning over the world and ensuring that all things will work together for my good. Most importantly, He is Redeemer, Savior, and King to us all, paying us personal and tender heed. He loves us, and He works tirelessly to help us. I know peace and confidence come in looking to Christ and allowing Him to bear our burdens and to lead us on our way. In conclusion, I add my gratitude for His goodness to the words of the Psalmist who wrote:

O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. (Psalm 98: 1-4)

General Conference: A Message for Every One

With the beginning of October comes the semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than just a worldwide gathering of people who share the same beliefs and hopes, General Conference is a time for all who will to hear the words of men who have been called as prophets and apostles—men chosen to communicate the will of God to the world and to testify of His reality and love to God’s children everywhere.

In four general sessions on the first Saturday and Sunday of months of October and April, those prophets and apostles and other leaders of the Church share messages that they have spent months preparing. Elder Robert D. Hales, a modern apostle, explained in a recent Conference that “conferences are always under the direction of the Lord, guided by His Spirit. We are not assigned specific topics. Over weeks and months, often through sleepless nights, we wait upon the Lord. Through fasting, praying, studying, and pondering, we learn the message that He wants us to give.” In other words, during months of seeking the will of the Lord, those who speak in General Conferences of the Church work to subordinate their wills to God’s will in order to make sure that they deliver to us the messages that God wants us to hear.

In addition to hearing inspired talks, those who participate in General Conference are graced with uplifting music. (Image: lds.org.)

In addition to hearing inspired talks, those who participate in General Conference are graced with uplifting music. (Image: lds.org.)

As a result, we can have the confidence that, during the Conference, we will hear something or recognize some truth that is tailored to our circumstances and needs. Our Father in Heaven knows us perfectly and intimately and, through the power of the Holy Ghost, can communicate personalized messages to our hearts and minds. Many times, poignant and powerful impressions can come through the messages of General Conference—messages that are inspired and appointed for our times and our current circumstances. Speaking of his experience attending General Conference, Elder Hales taught:

[T]he Holy Ghost carries the word of the Lord unto our hearts in terms we can understand. When I take notes at conference, I do not always write down exactly what the speaker is saying; I note the personalized direction the Spirit is giving me.

What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel. That is why we make an effort to experience conference in a setting where the still, small voice of the Spirit can be clearly heard, felt, and understood.

Because of the great blessings that can come to us as we listen to and decide to live by the counsels and teachings of the Lord’s chosen servants, I extend my invitation to follow this link and watch the live stream of the Sunday sessions of the 184th Seminannual General Conference at 10:00 a.m. and at 2:00. p.m. MDT on Sunday, October 5th. While watching the Saturday sessions, I have been inspired by the simple and meaningful messages delivered so far in the conference. I know that all those who listen with a sincere and faithful heart will receive, through the Holy Spirit, the messages that God wants them to hear, messages that will bolster their faith and bless their lives. Surely, in the General Conference, there are messages for everyone—and messages tailored for every one. In ending, I add my testimony to the truth of Elder Hales inspired witness, which he gave, saying:

My brothers and sisters, I bear my special witness that the Lord Jesus Christ lives and stands at the head of this Church. This is His general conference. I promise you in His name that if you pray with a sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father’s voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence.