Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke about the eternal blessings of submitting to the Lord’s will tonight at the CES Devotional at the Texas Hall at the University of Texas — Arlington.
Elder Bednar began his address by relating a experience he and his wife had when Elder Neal A. Maxwell and his wife came to speak at BYU-Idaho in October of 1997.
Elder Bednar said earlier in the same year, Elder Maxwell underwent 46 days and nights of debilitating chemotherapy for leukemia.
He said Elder Maxwell’s physical strength and stamina were limited when he traveled to Rexburg for that speaking assignment.
“During the course of our conversations that day, I asked Elder Maxwell what lessons he had learned through his illness,” Elder Bednar said.
“I will remember always the precise and penetrating answer he gave. ‘Dave, he said, I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving.’”
Elder Bednar said Elder Maxwell had much experience with this subject during his chemotherapy.
Elder Bednar shared a quote from Elder Maxwell’s October 1997 General Conference address titled, “Applying the Atoning Blood of Christ,” that illustrates the principle Elder Maxwell learned.
“As we confront our own trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we might not shrink — meaning to retreat or to recoil. Not shrinking is much more important than surviving. Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus.”
“The Savior did not shrink in Gethsemane or Golgotha. Elder Maxwell also did not shrink,” Elder Bednar said.
He said his purpose today is to bear witness that such blessings are not reserved exclusively for general authorities or for a few select members of the Church.
Elder Bednar then shared the story of young couple he met who helped him learn spiritually vital lessons.
“John was 23 and Heather was 20 on the day they were sealed for time and for all eternity in the house of the Lord,” Elder Bednar said.
He explained that three weeks after their temple marriage, John was diagnosed with bone cancer that spread to his lungs, and he was given a 30 percent chance of surviving.
Elder Bednar said he visited John and Heather in the hospital two days after the operation. He said John and Heather had the faith to be healed.
“I then posed questions I had never planned to ask and had never previously considered,” Elder Bednar said. “John, do you have the faith not to be healed?”
Elder Bednar explained that if it were God’s will for John to be healed, that blessing could only be received if he first had the faith not to be healed.
According to Elder Bednar, the strongest faith may not move a mountain if it’s not God’s will. He spoke about the difference between having faith that God could heal him rather than demanding the blessing that God would heal him.
“If all opposition were curtailed, if all maladies were removed, then the primary purposes of the Father’s plan would be frustrated,” Elder Bednar said. “Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality can only be received through the things we experience and sometimes suffer.”
Elder Bednar said John and Heather learned invaluable lessons for eternity through their experience with John’s illness.
He advised disciples to put their faith and trust in Christ through their own trials and to meekly submit to God’s will and timing.
“I know that the Lord who was bruised, broken and torn for us can succor and strengthen his people according to their infirmities,” Elder Bednar said. “And I know one of the greatest blessings of mortality is to not shrink and to allow our individual will to be swallowed up in the will of the Father.”