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The Prince of Peace: “Peace I Give unto You” | Robert D. Hales, Jun 1986

It is a privilege to be with you at a fireside
this evening. I have pondered what message would be helpful
and meaningful for you in your life at this special time of learning and preparation for
the future. May the Spirit be with us as we discuss some
gospel teachings is my prayer. President Spencer W. Kimball, in a 1966 talk
entitled “Tragedy or Destiny,” said: I am positive in my mind that the Lord has
planned our destiny. We can shorten our lives, but I think we cannot
lengthen them very much. Sometime we’ll understand fully, and when
we see back from the vantage point of the future, we shall be satisfied with many of
the happenings of this life which seemed so difficult for us to comprehend. We knew before we were born that we were coming
to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, pain
and comforts, ease and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments; and
we knew also that we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a
glad heart eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We were undoubtedly willing to have a mortal
body even if it were deformed. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward
even though it might be for a day, a year, or a century. Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether
we should die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to come and take life as it
came and as we might organize and control it, and this without murmur, complaint, or
unreasonable demands. We sometimes think we would like to know what
is ahead, but sober thought brings us back to accepting life a day at a time, and magnifying
and glorifying that day. Ten years ago I was left alone to ponder this
very idea in the stark white, sterile environment of a hospital room. My dear wife, Mary, had just been wheeled
away to have an operation. My first response was to pray for her to be
returned to me alive and well. My first prayer was almost one of a demand
for her return because of the good life she had lived, her husband and children needed
her loving care, and because in some way, because of our lives of service, her return
to health was a debt owed us. Upon concluding the first prayer a heavy feeling
lay upon me. There was not the feeling of peace, comfort,
or reassurance I had anticipated. What was wrong? Why hadn’t I been comforted? Why did I still have so much fear? After a few minutes of apprehension and deliberation,
I knelt to pray again for a second time. This time, however, my prayer was one of acknowledging
the Lord’s hand in our lives, giving thanks for the many blessings we had received together
as companions in over twenty years of marriage, and expressing that I would accept the outcome
of the operation to be in God’s hands and that his will would be done. After concluding the prayer, I was ready to
accept the will of God as it affected Mary’s life and mine. At the conclusion of the prayer a sweet, comforting
spirit of peace rested upon me—not because I was assured of Mary’s safe return to health,
but because of the assurance that I would accept my Heavenly Father’s will and trust
in him and in his son Jesus Christ to be given the strength to meet the trials of this mortal
probation. After a few more minutes of reflection, I
felt the need of more spiritual strength. I reached for my Bible that was on the bed
stand and casually thumbed through it, stopping at the book of Job, and began to read, preoccupied
at first and then studying more and more intently because my searching questions were being
answered. The book of Job is a profound poem, yet hard
to understand, outlining the challenges of life. Job was a good man, almost perfect. One day Satan appeared before God to tell
him of the sinful ways of his children on earth. God said to Satan, “Did you notice my servant
Job? There is no one on earth like him—a perfect
and an upright man who never sins.” Then Job was tested in similar ways that we
must be prepared to be tested in this mortal probation: (1) physical possessions (house,
cattle, children); (2) physical health (boils from head
to toe); (3) mental health (depression): “Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I [was
born]? I should have slept: then had I been at rest”,
“So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life” and (4) false
accusations from friends who told Job he must deserve his pain and tribulations as God’s
punishment for his sins. Job’s wife urged him to curse God, even
if it meant he would be struck dead. But Job did not let these events destroy his
testimony. “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged
God foolishly.” As I studied Job in the hospital room, I found
the key to enduring the trials and tribulations of this life is not to place blame on God
the Father or his son Jesus Christ. Our trials and tribulations must be used to
strengthen our faith. Job testified, “And though after my skin
worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and
mine eyes shall behold.” No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience
is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development
of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure,
especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands
our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God
. . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education
that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in
heaven. Being human, we would expel from our lives
physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but
if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest
friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they
learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. After a few hours my sweetheart was returned
to the hospital recovery room—our crisis now a learning experience. I have often pondered what I would have done
if she had departed this frail existence to leave me alone in this cold and dreary world
without her love. What are you going to do when faced with a
tragedy? Can you prepare yourself and learn from Job,
too? What is the real meaning of “If ye are prepared,
ye shall not fear?” What preparations must you make in order to
be comforted in times of trial and tribulation? You must learn to “trust in the Lord with
all thine heart,” for “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.” The Savior is the Prince of Peace. What beautiful words of hope, peace, and comfort. The hymn “How Firm a Foundation” teaches
us: In every condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth, At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause
thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. When through the deep waters I call thee to
go, The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor
to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake! I am touched this evening to have in attendance
a father of seven children whose sweetheart passed through the vale after a sudden illness
just a few weeks ago—sweet Linda, thirty-two years of age, a devoted daughter, wife, and
mother, taken home to our Father in Heaven for some inexplicable reason. The funeral was beautiful as Linda’s husband,
daughter, and parents spoke of her love and talents. No one charged God foolishly. The testimonies and examples were powerful
and strengthened our faith. Individually, we should thank God for the
examples of those about us who battle and conquer daily challenges that are intense,
real, and continuing. There are some persons who in our human eyes
seem to have more than their share of trouble, as we measure, but with God’s help they
are made special. They will not break. They will not yield. Now, we find many people critical when a righteous
person is killed, a young father or mother is taken from a family, or when violent deaths
occur. Some become bitter when oft-repeated prayers
seem unanswered. Some lose faith and turn sour when solemn
administrations by holy men seem to be ignored and no restoration seems to come from repeated
prayer circles. But if all the sick were healed, if all the
righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled
and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. He that is faithful in tribulation, the reward
of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for
the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and
the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. If we say that early death is a calamity,
disaster, or tragedy, would it not be saying that mortality is preferable to earlier entrance
into the spirit world and to eventual salvation and exaltation? If mortality be the perfect state, then death
would be a frustration, but the gospel teaches us there is no tragedy in death, [if we die
in faith]. “He that hath faith in me to be healed,
and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.” Apparently the Lord did not consider death
always a curse or tragedy, for he said: “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” Life goes on and free agency continues, and
death, which seems such a calamity, [is part of an eternal] blessing. . . . I am grateful that even through the
priesthood I cannot heal all the sick. I might heal people who should die. I might relieve people of suffering who should
suffer. I fear I would frustrate the purposes of God. . . . Suffering can make saints of people
as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of
his education. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience
by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author
of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Again the Savior has promised that to worthy
members the Holy Ghost would be a comforter in times of sickness and death. Many have borne witness of the comforting
spirit that has attended them in times of sorrow, helping them to find peace and understanding. A few weeks ago it was my privilege to meet
two wonderful women, close friends, who had lost their husbands in a tragic airplane accident. Did I find them in despair and deep mourning? No, indeed. I have never witnessed greater courage and
strength. They both bore witness to the fact that they
had truly felt the comfort of the Spirit, that they knew there was a purpose in the
call that had been given to their husbands, and that they had an assurance that all would
be well with them and their families as they lived close to the Church and kept the commandments
of the Lord. . . . Could the Lord have prevented these
tragedies? The answer is yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to
control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed
us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death. But is that what you want? Would you shield your children from effort,
from disappointments, temptations, sorrows, suffering? The basic gospel law is free agency. To force us to be careful or righteous would
be to nullify that fundamental law, and growth would be impossible. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall
be comforted.” “I will not leave you comfortless: I will
come to you.” The Holy Ghost is the Comforter. This name-title is given to the third member
of the Godhead to signify his mission of bringing solace, love, peace, quiet enjoyment, and
comfort to the saints. Scriptures setting forth the consolation and
encouragement which spring up in the hearts of the righteous by the power of the Holy
Ghost frequently speak of him as the Comforter. Moroni, writing of “the visitation of the
Holy Ghost,” says that this “Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love.” And in 1 John we learn that “There is no
fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” Many of you in attendance tonight may face
a similar test of faith in the future. Will you be prepared? How will you respond? There are so many ways we may be tested: the
death of a loved one, the birth defect of a child, an accident paralyzing a loved one,
our own illness, failure to reach a goal in life, being single and lonely, being married
and experiencing divorce, having friends betray a trust. Leo Tolstoi’s story of Martin Avdeitch teaches
a beautiful lesson on how to deal with sorrow in our life. Martin had experienced a great deal of tragedy
in his life. His two oldest children passed away. Later, his wife became ill and died, leaving
Martin alone with his little son Kapitoshka, the only bright spot remaining in his life. Then Kapitoshka suddenly became ill with a
high fever and died within a few days. Martin was devastated and had a hard time
dealing with the sorrow and tragedies he had encountered. One day an old man came into Martin’s shop
and convinced him he must pull himself out of his depression and sorrow. He told him that he must first get a copy
of the New Testament and study it. Then he must turn his thoughts away from himself
and attend to the needs of others. Martin took the old man’s advice and immediately
went out and bought a copy of the New Testament. He found it fascinating—so much so that
he often read until the oil burned from his lamp at night. One evening he pondered over the message found
in Luke 7, beginning with verse 44: And he turned to the woman, and said unto
Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered thine house, thou gavest me no water
for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her
head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since
the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but
this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. As he thought about how he had treated others,
he fell asleep. He was awakened by a voice telling him that
the Savior was coming to visit him the next day. When morning came, Martin arose early and
started his work. He watched out the window of his shop as people
passed. While he was working—and watching—he noticed
an old soldier who had been hired to clean the snow away. The old soldier looked tired and cold. Martin tapped on the window and motioned him
to come in. The old man was nearly frozen. Martin offered him hot food and shelter to
warm himself. He also shared with him his feelings about
the happiness reading the holy scriptures had brought into his life. After the old soldier left, Martin once again
set about his work in his shoemaking shop. He continued to look out the window for his
guest. He soon noticed a young woman who stopped
outside his shop to try to bundle her tiny baby to protect him from the cold. She was poorly dressed for the extreme cold
outside and had very little protection for the child. Martin invited her in and cared for the baby
while the young woman ate some warm soup. As she left, he provided her with an old coat
and enough money to buy a new one. Both mother and baby were warm and protected
from the cold when they left for their journey home. Martin cleaned the dishes and went back to
work near the window. It wasn’t long before he saw an old woman
who had been selling apples. As she set her basket of apples down to adjust
a large, awkward sack she was packing, a young boy came by and grabbed an apple. The old woman, having been on her guard from
years of experience, grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck. As the two were struggling, Martin dashed
out to help. Through his efforts not only did the old woman
and the boy stop their fighting, but by the time they left the boy offered to carry the
large sack to the old lady’s home, and she rewarded him with a big red apple. They walked together down the street—talking
and laughing as they went. Martin went inside. It was getting late so he cleaned his shop
and put his tools away. He thought he saw shadows in the dark corner
of the room but decided the dim lamplight was playing tricks on him. He opened the New Testament and began reading
and pondering why his guest had not arrived. Suddenly he heard a voice call out his name,
saying, “Martin, Martin, dost thou not know me?” “Who art thou?” said Avdeitch. “Even I,” whispered the voice again, and
out from the dark corner stepped the old soldier. He smiled at Martin—then he was gone. “It is I,” whispered a second voice, and
the young woman and her child stepped out from the dark corner of the room. She and the baby smiled at him—then they
suddenly disappeared. “And it is I,” whispered a third voice
as the old lady and the boy with the apple stepped out, smiled, and were gone. Martin rubbed his eyes, looked down at where
his New Testament had fallen open, and read: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took
me in.” And further down the page he read: “Inasmuch
as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Then Martin Avdeitch understood that the vision
had come true, and his Savior had in very truth visited him that day, and that he had
received him. This story outlines an important way to prepare
ourselves to meet a tragedy: by reading the scriptures to strengthen ourselves and by
turning our thoughts away from ourselves and attending to the needs of others. Another beautiful example is found in the
life of Thomas Moore. Why do many of us “go it alone” and deny
those who love us most the joy and blessings that come from sharing? The principle of helping one in need is well
expressed in the touching love story of Thomas Moore, a famous nineteenth-century Irish poet,
who, when he returned from a business trip, found his wife had locked herself in her upstairs
bedroom and had asked to see no one. Moore learned the terrible truth that his
beautiful wife had contracted smallpox, and her milky complexion was now pocked and scarred. She had looked at herself in the mirror and
demanded that the shutters be drawn, and that she never see her husband again. Thomas Moore did not listen. He went upstairs to the darkened room and
started to light the lamp. His wife pleaded with him to let her remain
in darkness alone. She felt it best not to subject her husband
to seeing his loved one with her beauty marred. She asked him to go. Moore did go. He went downstairs and spent the rest of the
night in prayerful writing. He had never written a song before, but that
night he not only wrote words but also composed music. As daylight broke, Moore returned to his wife’s
darkened room. “Are you awake?” he asked. “Yes,” she said, “but you must not see
me. Please don’t press me, Thomas.” “I’ll sing to you then,” he said. Thomas Moore sang to his wife the song that
still lives today. Believe me, if all those endearing young charms, Which I gaze on so fondly to-day: Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in
my arms, Like fairy-gifts fading away, Moore heard a movement in the corner of the
darkened room where his wife lay in loneliness. He continued: Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment
thou art, Let thy loveliness fade as it will, And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart Would entwine itself verdantly still. The song ended. As his voice faded, Moore heard his bride
arise. She crossed the room to the window, reached
up and slowly withdrew the shutters, opened the curtain, and let in the morning light. I would like at this time to thank my wife
for opening up the shutters and letting in her light and her life and sharing it with
me. I would not be here today without her love
and companionship. When we are marred spiritually or physically,
our first reaction is to withdraw into the dark shadows of depression, to blot out hope
and joy—the light of life that comes from knowing we are living the commandments of
our Father in Heaven. This withdrawal will ultimately lead us to
rebellion against those who would like to be our friends, those who can help us most,
even our family. But worst of all, we finally reject ourselves. Those who are alone and lonely should not
retreat to the sanctuary of their private thoughts and chambers. Such retreat will ultimately lead them into
the darkening influence of the adversary, which leads to despondency, loneliness, frustration,
and to thinking of oneself as worthless. After one thinks of himself as worthless,
he then ofttimes turns to associates who corrode those delicate spiritual contacts, rendering
their spiritual receiving antennas and transmitters useless. What good is it to associate with and ask
advice of someone who is disoriented himself and only tells us what we want to hear? Isn’t it better to turn to loving parents
and friends, who can help us reach for and attain celestial goals? Having almost lost my dear companion a decade
ago, I determined not to have any regrets in the remaining years we had together. Whittier wrote of Maud Muller: “For of all
sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” One of the great tragedies in our lives is
to look back and say, “But for my actions, this might have been.” My Regrets
Are not for things I’ve done But for the things I meant to do. The violets I picked and failed to send;
Words of love I did not give a friend. The call I should have made at sorrow’s
door; Comforts that I could have sent the poor. The Letter that somehow I did not pen. Chances lost will never come again. These are my regrets . . . I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness
that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall
not pass this way again. It has been said that each of us has enough
strength to endure another’s tragedies, tribulations, and sorrows. We all know that in this mortal probation
we must prepare for tragedies that may directly affect our lives in a number of ways: 1. By having a deep, abiding faith in God our
Father and in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, trusting in their mercy in all our doings
without charging God foolishly. 2. By being spiritually strong, by being obedient,
and by having the Holy Ghost to guide us, comfort us, and bring peace to our souls. This would include regular prayer and study
of the scriptures as individuals, companions, and family. 3. By acquiring personal accountability for our
actions, not blaming others for our mistakes, failures, opposition, or unexplained trials. Hopefully, walking the gospel road less traveled
means we can look back without regrets for our actions. Living gospel principles may bring loneliness
in terms of our todays and tomorrows, but it can reward us with blessings of eternity. 4. We need to reach out to those who have experienced
a tragedy in their lives. In this way we learn from their example of
faith and strength. Also, in the same way the Savior thought of
his mother’s care in the closing moments on Calvary, we learn we must reach out and
help when we are hurting. 5. The last point on meeting adversity in our
lives comes from Victor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning. He relates his experience in surviving two
concentration camp experiences where all vestiges of human rights were taken from the inmates. Frankl is fond of quoting Nietzsche: “He
who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” anyhow In the concentration camp every circumstance
conspires to make the prisoners lose hold of the purpose of life. All reasons for living are taken away through
beatings, fear, poor nutrition, captors, and mental mind games. What alone remains is “the last of human
freedoms”—the ability to “choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” The
prisoners were all average men, but some, at least, by choosing to be “worthy of their
suffering” proved, by serving against unsurmountable odds, man’s capacity to rise above outward
fates, whether they be deserved or undeserved, explained or unexplained, just or unjust,
or from sources unknown—good or evil. Harold S. Kushner, at the end of his book,
When Bad Things Happen to Good People, said, In the final analysis, the question of why
bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions,
no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend
to do now that it [the tragic event] has happened. Are you capable of forgiving and accepting
in love a world that has disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there
is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease, poverty, crime, earthquake, flood, and accident? Can you forgive the world’s imperfections
and love life because it is capable of containing great beauty and goodness, and because it
is the only world we have? Are you capable of forgiving and loving the
people around you, even if they have hurt you and let you down by not being perfect? Can you forgive them and love them because
there aren’t many perfect people around, and because the penalty for not being able
to love imperfect people is condemning oneself to loneliness? Are you capable of forgiving and loving God
even when you have found that his world is not perfect and free from pain and travail? He may have let you down and permitted bad
luck, wickedness, and cruelty in his world—permitting some of those things to happen to you. Can you learn to love and forgive him, as
Job did, despite the tests of our faith he asks us to endure? The capability, through repentance, to forgive
and the ability to love are God-given gifts to enable us to live our lives fully and to
help others live bravely and meaningfully in this less than perfect world. If we can apply these preparations to meet
life’s challenges and tragedies, our yesterdays will seem less painful; and you will not be
afraid of your tomorrows. I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead. He lives, my ever living Head. He lives to bless me with his love. He lives to plead for me above. He lives my hungry soul to feed. He lives to bless in time of need. 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 soul’s 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. He lives, my kind, wise heav’nly Friend. He lives and loves me to the end. He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing. He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King. He lives and grants me daily breath. He lives, and I shall conquer death. He lives my mansion to prepare. He lives to bring me safely there. He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives.” He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!” In closing, may I give my testimony of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—the Prince of Peace. I testify that if we will put our trust in
the Lord and live obediently so that we might have the comforting spirit of the Holy Ghost,
we shall find joy and peace in this mortal probation. That we might live our lives in such a way
that we may endure to the end and return back into the presence of God the Father and his
Son Jesus Christ is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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