Always there is hope. Though there are storms raging, both literally and figuratively. Though persecution and criticism will come as we follow Christ, there is hope. Peace. Joy. As we follow our Savior.
Sometimes I begin to worry about the future. About my children and the choices they will make. About the wickedness of the world around me. About family and friends whose faith is faltering. About the directions public education is heading. About ward members who face difficult challenges. About whether I can and will remain faithful, and whether those I love most will as well. But conference fills my soul and reminds me that despite the whirlwinds, there IS hope. Our leaders, who are so very aware of our challenges, concerns, and needs and who know the difficulties the future will hold, are optimistic and happy. They teach us to be grateful, hold onto our faith, and defend our beliefs. Storms WILL come, and challenges will abound. Wickedness will increase, but so will faith and goodness. Tonight, as I was searching out scriptures quoting gratitude, I stumbled upon these verses that brought me great comfort..."We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed... For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17-18)
So I will try to set down my bottle of bitterness and lift the gauntlet of gratitude. I will strive to recognize that as winds strengthen trees, so too, challenges strengthen us. That the loads we carry create necessary spiritual traction. I look forward to studying more closely the talks by President Uchtdorf, Elder Andersen and Elder Bednar's to better see the connections between them. It is a glorious thing to be a member of this church which is led by prophets and apostles.