BYU Women’s Conference: Accessing grace to overcome trials

Women gather on the lawn south of the Marriott  Center. Photo by Miranda Facer
Women gather on the lawn south of the Marriott Center after a session of Women’s Conference. (Photo by Miranda Facer)

The presidents and counselors of the general Relief Society, Young Women and Primary presidencies spoke on Christ’s grace at a morning session of Women’s Conference on May 2. Each speaker told stories of righteous women who were able to overcome various trials by seeking the healing power of Jesus Christ and letting his grace guide their lives.

General Relief Society President Linda K. Burton began the session with the story of Elsa Coots, a New Zealand woman who harnessed Christ’s grace in her life to forgive a German pilot who shot down the plane of her late husband.

When the pilot contacted Coots forty years after her husband’s death, Burton said she was able to freely forgive him and assure him she harbored no ill will.

“I too want to acquire the benevolence I saw in Elsa made possible through the grace of Jesus Christ,” Burton said.

Cheryl A. Esplin, the second counselor in the Primary general presidency, spoke next. She talked about a woman named Rosa who remained faithful in the Church even though her husband was unsupportive and her children forbade her from seeing her grandchildren because she was a member.

Esplin recounted how Rosa did not view her situation with frustration or sadness; rather she saw the experience as a chance to feel Christ’s grace in her life.

“‘When Christ takes us by the hand it is not hard,'” Esplin said, quoting Rosa.

By accepting Christ’s help through his grace, Esplin told conferences participants, they would be able to overcome trials and receive strength from the Savior.

Later in the session, Young Women General President Bonnie L. Oscarson counseled sisters to have faith in the Lord’s timing and seek grace to accept his will. She discussed her daughter Carrie’s struggle with infertility and how it taught her and those who watched her trial to lean on the Lord and let Him lift them when burdens became too heavy to carry.

After multiple attempts at in vitro fertilization proved unsuccessful, Carrie and her husband, Todd, were discouraged but remained faithful in the Lord’s timing. Oscarson said the couple put everything on the altar before the Lord when they sold their house to provide means for a final attempt at in vitro fertilization. They later had two children, Oliver and Charlotte.

“His grace was sufficient,” Oscarson said.

The session closed with remarks from Primary General President Rosemary M. Wixom. She began by showing a visual of a plant growing out of a crack in a stretch of asphalt.

Wixom asked the audience if they ever felt like when they were reaching for the light of the Savior they struggled to break through the metaphorical asphalt.

The key to reaching Christ’s light and accessing His grace, Wixom told the sisters, is to be strong and use the God-given fortitude they naturally possess. She told the stories of three women who were able to overcome challenges by seeking the Savior’s help.

By turning their trials over to the Lord and letting Him absorb the sting of every day life, Wixom said conference participants, like the three women whose stories she shared, would be able to feel joy even in times of trial.

“Like the plant pushing through the asphalt, we too are created by God,” Wixom said. “That fortitude emerges as we reach for the Savior and access His power-giving life to become new creatures.”

She ended the session by encouraging sisters to strive to become more gracious and to accept Christ’s help in their lives.

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