Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Talk on "Finding Peace"

I’ve been asked to talk today about how we can find peace amidst the turmoil and troubles that face us in the world today.
In his first presidency message in March 2004 Ensign magazine titled, “Finding Peace”, Pres. Thomas S. Monson gave some suggestions for how we can have peace in this world. He gave these three guidelines for us:
1. Search inward
2. Reach outward; and
3. Look heavenward.
Let’s look at the first step, to search inward. What can we do to promote peace in our families, and in our own lives?
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) counseled us: “The price of peace is righteousness. Men and nations may loudly proclaim, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there shall be no peace until individuals nurture in their souls those principles of personal purity, integrity, and character which foster the development of peace. Peace cannot be imposed. It must come from the lives and hearts of men. There is no other way.”

If we want peace in our lives, we must be peace makers. We should work to help others to forgive, and to avoid contention.
In the Book of Mormon, in 3 Ne. 11:28–30. We read: ““There shall be no disputations among you. …“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. “Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” In modern day scripture, in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said, “…I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”Doctrine and Covenants 38:27 If we want to promote peace, we must be peacemakers.

The next step is to Reach outward. We can do this by serving others. Whether it be in our own neighborhood, or in our community, we can help to promote peace by helping those who stand in need. It is interesting to notice that when we serve others, it inspires them to also reach out and serve. Surely this can bring peace to the world.
Another aspect of reaching outward is that we can try to promote peace and harmony amongst ourselves. We can avoid criticizing others, and seek to build harmony. We can forgive others of their weaknesses, and try to love as the Savior loves.

The third step is to look heavenward. In the scriptures, the Savior is called the “Prince of peace”. He is our true source of peace during troubling times. Pres. Monson said, “On one significant occasion, Jesus took a text from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” 11 —a clear pronouncement of the peace that passeth all understanding.”

I want to share a personal experience. When I was single, I was asked to be a leader for the girl’s camp 4th year hike, which was held before girl’s camp. We hiked up in to the mountains that run along the highway by St. George, Utah. At the end of the camp, I assigned a few girls to properly extinguish the coals in the firepit. I then went about packing up the rest of the camp. We returned home, and rested for awhile. Later that day I went outside to see to the camping equipment. To my surprise, I noticed that the mountain where we had just been, was on fire! While I watched the burning, the girls from camp came walking up to my yard. They confessed to me that they didn’t want to hassle with the coals in the firepit, so they had put them in a bag and hid them in the bushes. I cannot tell you how horrible I felt! I was under so much mental anguish, and also guilt for not supervising those girls better. I knew that if the firefighters can determine who started the fire, they will present them with the bill. I was just sick! I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep. The only thing I could think to pray for was that they would get the fire out quickly. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. The next morning I received some news that the fire had, in fact, been started by another group that had been camping on the mountain. The fire fighters had used our camp as a base camp. I cannot tell you how relieved I felt! The burden and anguish I had carried were immediately lifted! It was only then that I felt peace.

This reminds me of the story of Alma, who was struck by the seriousness of his own sins. Let me read a little about his experience that he related later to his son:
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma 36:17-21

How many of us are under similar emotional and spiritual burdens? How many among us struggle with anger because of an offense? Are there those among us who are under the burden of guilt, caused by sin? Are there those who struggle with feelings of hurt or loneliness? Are there those who constantly live in fear, or pain? In the scriptures, we learn that the Savior can bring us peace amidst all of our trials. He begs us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
He is waiting for us to come unto him. He has already suffered for us, and wants to give us peace, but we have to turn to him.

Have you ever burned your finger, and felt the immediate relief when you put it under cold water? Why would anyone ever hesitate to find cold water after being burned? Would laziness keep them from getting relief? Is it possible that a person might feel they should be punished for not being more careful, and so intentionally wouldn’t find water? Similarly, why do we hesitate to seek the Savior for relief from the burdens that we carry? He has already suffered for us, but if we do not make use of that suffering on our behalf, it is as if it was wasted.

The Savior knows our pains. In the book of Mormon, in Alma we read: 12 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. Alma 57:12
Part of the peace that the Savior has given to us is to know that when our loved ones die, they can live again. There are many throughout the world who do not believe in a resurrection. Surely death’s sting is great for them. But the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we can be resurrected, and we can say as Paul, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
The Savior knows how to comfort us, and how to give us peace. But we must be willing to repent, and forgive, and humble ourselves before God. And we must have faith in Jesus Christ.
My prayer is that we can follow Pres. Monson’s advice by first working to be peacemakers by searching inward. Then we must be peacemakers by reaching out to help others. And lastly we must look upward to receive the peace that only the Savior, the prince of peace can give. I know that if we come until him, he will give us rest.


Inklings said...

I like your talk!

Michaela Stephens said...

Good talk. What an experience with the camping and the fire on the mountain! I can understand in a small way the anguish you felt under the burden of responsibility. And what a relief it must have been to find out it wasn't your responsibility!

Thanks for sharing!