Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints counseled members on fostering and preserving happiness through challenging circumstances during the Saturday afternoon session of the 192nd Annual General Conference.
A choir of BYU–Idaho students provided choral performances during the session. New General Authority Seventies and Relief Society and Primary General presidencies were called and sustained during the session as well.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve advised youth who may be losing optimism and enthusiasm for the future, to search for happiness by embracing the gift they have already received: eternal light and life from Heavenly Father. He said youth should commit themselves fully to the gift of life, and help lift others who are struggling with depression and suicidal ideation.
“You can bear the struggles of this mortal life because we will help you bear them,” Elder Holland said. “You are stronger than you think. Help is available, from others and especially from God.”
Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy acknowledged the experiences of people who feel they are living through “survival” stories: those who have been victims of war, abuse or oppression.
Elder Kearon condemned abusive behavior and emphasized that victims are never at fault. He offered healing, survival and protection through the Atonement to those who have been abused. He said they have already been rescued by the Savior.
“With arms outstretched, the Savior offers the gift of healing to you,” Elder Kearon said. “With courage, patience, and faithful focus on Him, before too long you can come to fully accept this gift. You can let go of your pain and leave it at His feet.”
General Authority Seventy Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis spoke about the magnitude of participating in the gathering of Israel through full-time missionary work. He noted those who aspire to serve full-time missions may be challenged with obstacles, but that their service would make an eternal difference to all.
“This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth,” Elder Aidukaitis said.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve asked members to discover their divine identities by connecting with their families and ancestors. He said God wants families to be happy forever, and forever is too long if they are unhappy together. Members should perform temple ordinances, explore family heritage and foster loving relationships with their families on earth.
“We honor our heavens through temple and family history work, and by becoming a welding link in the chain of our generations,” Elder Gong said.
Elder Adrián Ochoa of the Seventy provided advice for those who feel that Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness is not working for them. He said members should act in faith, turn to Christ right away, repent daily and humble themselves before the Lord.
“When we struggle — for any reason — that does not mean the plan isn’t working,” Elder Ochoa said. “That is when we need the plan the most!”
Elder Kevin S. Hamilton of the Seventy asked members to be willing to change, though Satan may say their circumstances define them. He said while it is good to be authentic, members should be authentic to their true selves as children of God. To reach this potential, all members will need to change.
Elder Hamilton listed requirements of change, which consisted of a humble nature, faith in Christ and allowing Christ’s grace to turn weaknesses into strengths.
“We can overcome habits, addictions and even the ‘disposition to do evil,'” Elder Hamilton said. “As sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, we have the power within us to change.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve concluded the session testifying of Joseph Smith as an instrument in the Lord’s hand. He said the Doctrine and Covenants provide the keys, ordinances and covenants necessary for salvation and exaltation.
Elder Cook said because of the revealed doctrine, members understand the significance of repentance and the Atonement, and are able to truly convert.
“True conversion is brought about by the conscious acceptance and commitment to follow the will of God,” Elder Cook said. “The banquet of consequences and blessings that flow from conversion are true and permanent peace and the personal assurance of ultimate happiness — despite the storms of this life.”