Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice

Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice

In 1981 my father, two
close friends, and I went on an adventure in Alaska. We were to land on a
remote lake and climb to some beautiful high country. In order to reduce the load we
would have to personally carry, we wrapped our supplies in
boxes, covered them with foam, attached large
colored streamers, and threw them out the
window of our bush plane at our intended destination. After arriving, we searched and
searched, but to our dismay, we could not find
any of the boxes. Eventually we found one. It contained a small gas
stove, a tarp, some candy, and a couple packages of
Hamburger Helper–but no hamburger. We had no way to communicate
with the outside world, and our scheduled
pickup was a week later. I learned two valuable
lessons from this experience: One, do not throw your
food out the window. [LAUGHTER] Two, sometimes we have
to face hard things. Frequently our first reaction
to hard things is “Why me?” Asking why, however, never
takes away the hard thing. The Lord requires that
we overcome challenges, and He has indicated “that
all these things shall give [us] experience, and
shall be for [our] good.” Sometimes the Lord asks
us to do a hard thing, and sometimes our
challenges are created by our own or others’
use of agency. Nephi experienced both
of these situations. When Lehi invited
his sons to return to get the plates from Laban,
he said, “Behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard
thing which I have required of them; but behold I have
not required it of them, but it is a commandment
of the Lord.” On another occasion,
Nephi’s brothers used their agency to limit
his: “They did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they
were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me
with cords, for they sought to take away my life.” Joseph Smith confronted a
hard thing in Liberty Jail. With no relief in
sight and in despair, Joseph cried out, “O
God, where art thou?” No doubt some of us
have felt as Joseph did. EVERYONE FACES HARD
THINGS: the death of a loved one, divorce,
a wayward child, illness, trials of faith, a lost job,
or any other difficulty. I was forever changed
upon hearing these words from Elder Neal A. Maxwell
of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoken in the midst of his
struggle with leukemia. He said, “I was doing some
pensive pondering and these 13 instructive and reassuring
words came into my mind: ‘I have given you leukemia that
you might teach my people with authenticity.'” He then went on
to express how this experience had blessed him with
“perspective about the great realities of eternity. … Such glimpses of
eternity can help us to travel the next 100 yards,
which may be very difficult.” To help us travel and
triumph over our hard times with such glimpses of eternity,
may I suggest two things. We must face hard things,
first, by forgiving others, and second, by giving
ourselves to Heavenly Father. Forgiving those who may
have caused our hard thing and reconciling “[our]selves
to the will of God” can be very difficult. It can
hurt most when our hard thing is caused by a family
member, a close friend, or even ourselves. As a young bishop, I
learned of forgiveness when my stake president,
Bruce M. Cook, shared the following story. He explained: “During the late 1970s,
some associates and I started a business. Although we did nothing
illegal, some poor decisions, combined with …
challenging economic times, resulted in our failure. “Some investors filed a lawsuit
to recover their losses. Their attorney happened to
be a counselor in my family’s bishopric. It was very difficult to
sustain the man who seemed to be seeking to destroy me. I developed some real
animosity toward him and considered him my enemy. After five years
of legal battles, we lost everything we
owned, including our home. “In 2002, my wife and I learned
that the stake presidency in which I served as a
counselor was being reorganized. As we traveled on a short
vacation prior to the release, she asked me whom I would
choose as my counselors if I were called as the
new stake president. I did not want to speak
about it, but she persisted. Eventually, one name
came to … mind. She then mentioned the
name of the attorney we considered to have been at
the center of our difficulties 20 years earlier. As she spoke, the
Spirit confirmed that he should be the other counselor. Could I forgive the man? “When Elder David E. Sorensen
extended to me the call to serve as [the]
stake president, he gave me an hour
to select counselors. Through tears, I indicated …
the Lord had already provided that revelation. As I spoke the name of the
man I had considered my enemy, the anger, animosity, and hate
I had harbored disappeared. In that moment, I
learned of the peace that comes with forgiveness
through the Atonement of Christ.” In other words,
my stake president did “frankly forgive”
him, like Nephi of old. I knew President Cook
and his counselor as two righteous priesthood
leaders who loved one another. I determined to be like them. Years before, during our
misadventure in Alaska, I had quickly learned that
blaming our circumstances on others–the pilot launching
the food out in fading light–was not a solution. However, we experienced
physical exhaustion and lack of food, sickness, and
sleeping on the ground during a major storm with
only a tarp to cover us. I learned that “with God
nothing shall be impossible.” Young people, God requires
hard things of you. One 14-year-old young
woman participated in competitive basketball. She dreamed of playing
high school basketball like her older sister. She then learned
that her parents had been called to preside
over a mission in Guatemala. Upon arrival, she discovered
that a couple of her classes would be in Spanish, a
language she did not yet speak. There was not a single girls’
sports team at her school. She lived on the 14th floor of
a building with tight security. And to top it all off, she
could not go outside alone for safety reasons. Her parents listened to
her cry herself to sleep every night for months. This broke their hearts! They finally decided
they would send her home to her grandmother
for high school. When my mother entered
our daughter’s room to tell her our decision,
she saw our daughter kneeling in prayer with the Book
of Mormon open on the bed. The Spirit whispered to
my wife, “She will be OK,” and my wife quietly
left the room. We never heard her cry
herself to sleep again. With determination
and the Lord’s help, she faced those three
years valiantly. At the conclusion
of our mission, I asked my daughter
if she was going to serve a full-time mission. Her answer was “No, Dad,
I have already served.” I was just fine with that! [LAUGHTER] But about six months later, the
Spirit awoke me in the night with this thought: “I
have called your daughter to serve a mission.” My reaction was “Heavenly
Father, she has given so much.” I was quickly
corrected by the Spirit and came to understand that
her missionary service was required of the Lord. I soon took my
daughter to lunch. From across the table,
I said, “Ganzie, do you know why we are here?” She said, “Yes, Dad. You know I have to
serve a mission. I do not want to
go, but I am going.” Because she gave her
will to Heavenly Father, she served Him with all
her heart, might, mind, and strength. She has taught her father
how to do hard thing. In President Russell M. Nelson’s
worldwide devotional for youth, he requested some hard
things of the youth. President Nelson said:
“My fifth invitation is for you to stand out; be
different from the world. … The Lord needs you to look
like, sound like, act like, and dress like a true
disciple of Jesus Christ.” That can be a hard thing, yet
I know you can do it–with joy. Remember that “men are,
that they might have joy.” With all that Lehi faced,
he still found joy. Remember when Alma was “weighed
down with sorrow” because of the people of Ammonihah? The angel told him, “Blessed
art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head
and rejoice, … for thou hast been faithful
in keeping the commandments of God.” Alma learned a great truth:
we can always rejoice when we keep the commandments. Remember that during the
wars and challenges faced during the time
of Captain Moroni, “there never was a happier time
among the people of Nephi.” We can and should find joy
when we face hard things. THE SAVIOR FACED HARD
THINGS: “The world … shall judge him to
be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him,
and he suffereth it; … they smite him, and
he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him,
and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness
and his long-suffering towards the children of men.” Because of that
loving-kindness, Jesus Christ suffered the Atonement. As a result, He says to each
one of us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Because of Christ, we too
can overcome the world. As we face hard things
in the Lord’s way, may we lift up our
heads and rejoice. At this sacred opportunity
to testify to the world, I proclaim that our Savior
lives and guides His Church. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen.

5 Replies to “Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice”

  1. I loved this talk, I'm doing my best to study the conference talks and the message I best got from this talk was "The Lord has called each of us to serve a mission on this earth, despite how much we have and will endure along the way or how weak or unable we feel or how hard it truly is, we should keep pressing onward, stand out and rejoice through every obstacle, for the Lord is with us and made this journey for us. Great Talk ❤

  2. I know that each thought that Elder Brough expresses is true. I know it by life's experience, through the witness of the Holy Ghost and through many years of scripture study.

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