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Jeffrey R. Holland
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


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Among the realities we face as children of God living in a fallen world is that some days are difficult, days when our faith and our fortitude are tested. These challenges may come from a lack in us, a lack in others, or just a lack in life.

Many around us suffer from mental and emotional illness. Many of us battle doubts. Some of you may wonder if you have a place in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

By divine design, not all the voices of God’s choir are the same. It takes variety—sopranos and altos, baritones and basses—to make rich music. Our Heavenly Father delights to have us sing in our own voice.

Imperfect as you may think you are, God needs every one of you to take part in this divinely planned performance, and He has promised His help for that task. Believe in yourself and believe in Him. Don’t demean your worth or denigrate your contribution. Above all, don’t abandon your role in the chorus. Why? Because you are unique and irreplaceable.

There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those who speak different languages, celebrate diverse cultures, and gather from a host of international locations. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments.

“Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds: “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” In this great oratorio that is His plan for our exaltation, may we humbly follow His baton and keep working on the songs we cannot or do not yet sing until we can offer those “carol[s] to [our] king.”

I often think of those of you who are in the midst of a struggle. As much as we want life to be easy and comfortable, as much as I wish it could be that way for you, it simply cannot be. We are all, in one way or another, at one point in our lives, going to deal with a moral conundrum or a difficult issue without an easy answer.

At that point, we need to ask ourselves, “How much does the gospel of Jesus Christ really mean to me?” How will you act when that call comes? Will you defend Christ and His gospel, come what may?

John Taylor wrote that he once heard Joseph Smith say to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. … God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”

The life of Christ was like that. It is not coincidental that the word that is used for Christ’s experience in Gethsemane is that He was in “agony.” If we say we’re disciples of Christ, we will on occasion be in agony. We must walk where He walked.

When those moments come—contemporary issues, historical complexities, personal problems at home, challenges in a mission or a marriage, wherever it is—I pray and ask and bless you to the end that you will be strong. May you follow Christ with every ounce of your being, in good times and in bad.

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Recently, Elder Quentin L. Cook and I were blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Orson Hyde traveling to dedicate the Holy Land.

The recognition of Jerusalem as a holy place is a belief that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of the Jewish community share. We were so pleased to be able to spend time at the dedication site—and other locations—with many influential friends and leaders within the Jewish community. I firmly believe that as we work together with other groups to promote faith and foster understanding, we will find that we are much more alike than we are different.

Though I have been to Jerusalem many times, this trip was a unique experience for several reasons, not the least of which was because I was able to stand alongside my former missionary companion—Elder Cook.

To think of the things we taught together 54 years ago as missionary companions in England, then to have the opportunity to receive yet another witness of the reality of the Savior’s life, ministry, Atonement, and Resurrection was something I will always remember. How grateful I am for the knowledge then and the knowledge now that Jesus Christ lives.
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As you go about your Sabbath day today—and every Sunday—remember that it is a day of do’s, not a day of don’ts. This is a view of the Sabbath we have to grow into. Restricting ourselves in some ways on Sundays brings freedom, expansiveness, and understanding we would not have had if we treated Sundays like every other day. #HisDay

Last week, I spoke with the brethren of the priesthood about home teaching. Yes, I understand that no Freudian travel agency anywhere could possibly arrange the number of guilt trips the subject of home teaching has provoked. I pray that my words instead will help us see ourselves as emissaries of the Lord to His children in newer, better ways.

That means leaving behind the tradition of a frantic, law of Moses–like, end-of-the-month calendar in which you rush to leave a scripted message from the Church magazines that the family has already read.

Where circumstances allow, we should continue to strive for monthly visits in the homes of those we teach, but also we should not hesitate to take advantage of the technology the Lord has provided us.

We would be wise to remember that making phone calls, sending emails and text messages, and even tapping out a greeting through one of the many forms of social media available to us are all ways we can stay connected with one another.

Yes, you can be a home teacher AND a home tweet-cher.

We would hope that you will establish an era of genuine, gospel-oriented concern for the members, watching over and caring for each other, addressing spiritual and temporal needs as best you can by any means possible.

As for what “counts” as home teaching, every good thing you do “counts,” so report it all! Indeed, the report that matters most is how you have blessed and cared for those within your stewardship, which has virtually nothing to do with a specific calendar or a particular location.

I plead with you to do the best you can in the circumstances you face with the resources available to you. What matters most is that you love your people and are fulfilling the commandment to “watch over the Church always.” #LDSconf

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Recently during an address at BYU, I spoke about how religion is the means for uniting what was separated or holding together that which might be torn apart by that definition. Religion is an obvious need for us individually and collectively, given the trials and tribulations of our mortal lives.

What is equally obvious is that the conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, the moral and the immoral—the conflict which the world’s great faiths and devoted religious believers have historically tried to address in their efforts to hold things together—is being intensified in our time and is affecting an ever-wider segment of our culture. And let there be no doubt that the outcome of this conflict truly matters, not only in eternity but in everyday life as well.

We should be genuinely concerned over the assertion that the single most distinguishing feature of modern life is the rise of secularism with its attendant dismissal of, cynicism toward, or marked disenchantment with religion.

So I bear witness of religion being the principle ingredient—not the only, but the principle ingredient—that has kept Western social, political, and cultural life moral to the extent these have been moral. And I shudder at how immoral life might have been then and now without it. Looking at least at American history, other men wiser than I have shuddered as well.

But I am no doomsdayer. Our collective religious heritage and our traditional religious beliefs—varied as they are—are remarkably strong and resilient. May we honor and cherish religion and encourage its good effects everywhere.

Because my faith, my family, my beliefs, my covenants—in short, my religion—means everything to me, I thank my Father in Heaven for it and pray for the continued privilege to speak of it so long as I shall live.

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Three years ago, I felt impressed to speak at general conference about the painful, life-altering condition of depression that affects so many. You can read the address here:

We came to earth to face issues of mortality in the form of trials, temptations, disease, and death. It is essential for us to face personal struggles because opposition is a crucial part of Father’s plan. I suppose everybody will have some kind of an experience where they say, “I’m never going to be happy again.”

Well, we are going to be happy again. That is also a part of the plan. It’s the very nature of it. Hang on and hope. Never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. Never, ever doubt His love for you. Hold fast to the Atonement. Believe in miracles. When you’ve done all you can do, endure to the end. And remember, hope is never lost.

Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.

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Recently I returned from a remarkable trip to Brazil. In the midst of political and economic difficulties, the gospel light shines brightly in Brazil and in the lives of members of the Church. The Lord loves Brazil and He loves the people there. Their lives are a vivid testimony of how the gospel allows for brightness and happiness to triumph over difficulty and despair.

You cannot be in Brazil and not feel momentum for the future. I promised the members there that they would play no small part in the Lord’s blessing of that land in the future. For them and for us—wherever we might be—it is true that the prayers of the righteous have a wonderfully disproportionate impact on the rest of the population. The devotion, prayers, and faithfulness of our members will play a significant role in bringing peace to the places in which we live.
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We started a conversation on Face to Face in which I tried to answer some of your questions. I want you to know that many more questions will be answered in general conference this weekend. Prepare your hearts, and the Spirit will teach you wonderful things.

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I remember one fall day—I think it was in the first semester after our marriage in 1963—we were walking together up the hill past the Maeser Building on the sidewalk that led between the president’s home and the Brimhall Building on the BYU campus.

Somewhere on that path we stopped and wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Life that day seemed so overwhelming, and the undergraduate plus graduate years that we still anticipated before us seemed monumental, nearly insurmountable. Our love for each other and our commitment to the gospel were strong, but most of all the other temporal things around us seemed particularly ominous.

On a spot that I could probably still mark for you today, I turned to Pat and said something like this: “Honey, should we give up? I can get a good job and carve out a good living for us. I can do some things. I’ll be okay without a degree. Should we stop trying to tackle what right now seems so difficult to face?”

In my best reenactment of Lot’s wife, I said, in effect, “Let’s go back. Let’s go home. The future holds nothing for us.”

Then my beloved little bride did what she has done for more than 52 years since then. She grabbed me by the lapels and said, “We are not going back. We are not going home. The future holds everything for us.”

She stood there in the sunlight that day and gave me a real talk. I don’t recall that she quoted Paul, but there was certainly plenty in her voice that said she was committed to setting aside all that was past in order to “press toward the mark” and seize the prize of God that lay yet ahead. It was a living demonstration of faith. It was “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). So we laughed, kept walking, and finished up sharing a root beer—one glass, two straws—at the then newly constructed Wilkinson Center.

Remember, my dear young friends, the future holds everything for you. Be faithful. Believe. The Lord will bless you.
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