5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Holland does a beautiful job of summarizing the cares of the world, with his memorable micro story-telling. He treats us to his unique Conference talk style and displays a talent for taking experiences from the past and translating them to our modern lives.
Lately, it has been easy to lose hope among the the bleak conditions we have run into. This is a great lesson for acknowledging life’s downfalls, yet also recognizing we can make it work for our good.
His complete talk can be found here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions which resonate the most with you and which you feel will make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All quotes by Elder Holland and in blue.
Quote #1 (heartaches)
“O God, where art thou?” we hear from the depths of Liberty Jail. “And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed?” How long, O Lord, how long?
So, we are not the first nor will we be the last to ask such questions when sorrows bear down on us or an ache in our heart goes on and on. I am not now speaking of pandemics or prisons but of you, your family, and your neighbors who face any number of such challenges. I speak of the yearning of many who would like to be married and aren’t or who are married and wish the relationship were a little more celestial. I speak of those who have to deal with the unwanted appearance of a serious medical condition—perhaps an incurable one—or who face a lifelong battle with a genetic defect that has no remedy. I speak of the continuing struggle with emotional and mental health challenges that weigh heavily on the souls of so many who suffer with them, and on the hearts of those who love and suffer with them. I speak of the poor, whom the Savior told us never to forget, and I speak of you waiting for the return of a child, no matter what the age, who has chosen a path different from the one you prayed he or she would take.
Possible Questions: Can you relate to any of the sentiments Elder Holland lists? What comfort could you offer if someone asked you about their suffering and seemingly unanswered prayers? Do you know anyone who is sorrow-free or problem-free? What is the purpose of opposition in life?
Quote #2 (opposites)
“Yes, God can provide miracles instantaneously, but sooner or later we learn that the times and seasons of our mortal journey are His and His alone to direct.” He administers that calendar to every one of us individually. For every infirm man healed instantly as he waits to enter the Pool of Bethesda, someone else will spend 40 years in the desert waiting to enter the promised land. For every Nephi and Lehi divinely protected by an encircling flame of fire for their faith, we have an Abinadi burned at a stake of flaming fire for his. And we remember that the same Elijah who in an instant called down fire from heaven to bear witness against the priests of Baal is the same Elijah who endured a period when there was no rain for years and who, for a time, was fed only by the skimpy sustenance that could be carried in a raven’s claw. By my estimation, that can’t have been anything we would call a “happy meal.”
The point? The point is that faith means trusting God in good times and bad, even if that includes some suffering until we see His arm revealed in our behalf. That can be difficult in our modern world when many have come to believe that the highest good in life is to avoid all suffering, that no one should ever anguish over anything. But that belief will never lead us to “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
Elder Holland makes a great point about how our paths are watched, and guided individually. In other words, another person’s miracle isn’t necessarily the one we should have ourselves. Likewise, we may not pass through another person’s trial for the same reason. All the members of the Godhead know every hair on our head. The most hopeful, optimal balance of tender mercies and refiner’s fires are on the calendar for each of us.
Possible Questions: Have you ever had a sore trial, only to look back and realize it made you stronger, or better or opened doors? Do you have a favorite scripture story, where someone endured a lot of hardship? What happened, and why do you like that story? (Mine is Joseph of Egypt – he was kidnapped, some family members plotted to murder him and almost did, was torn away from his family and home, forced into slavery, and after some success (finally) was framed for rape and then thrown in prison for an extended period of time. If anyone had reason to doubt God, it is him. Yet he became both a spiritual powerhouse and the 2nd most powerful man in his country with a glorious life.) Is it harder to trust God during bad times? Does our modern culture understand the purpose of hard times and struggle? What does the “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” mean to you?
Quote #3 (glass of lemonade)
With apologies to Elder Neal A. Maxwell for daring to modify and enlarge something he once said, I too suggest that “one’s life … cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free.” It simply will not work “to glide naively through life,” saying as we sip another glass of lemonade, “Lord, give me all thy choicest virtues, but be certain not to give me grief, nor sorrow, nor pain, nor opposition. Please do not let anyone dislike me or betray me, and above all, do not ever let me feel forsaken by Thee or those I love. In fact, Lord, be careful to keep me from all the experiences that made Thee divine. And then, when the rough sledding by everyone else is over, please let me come and dwell with Thee, where I can boast about how similar our strengths and our characters are as I float along on my cloud of comfortable Christianity.”
My beloved brothers and sisters, Christianity is comforting, but it is often not comfortable. The path to holiness and happiness here and hereafter is a long and sometimes rocky one. It takes time and tenacity to walk it. But, of course, the reward for doing so is monumental.
For sure, I can relate to that prayer! Especially the part, “do not let anyone dislike me or betray me.” We have all been deeply hurt, forgotten, neglected, bullied, betrayed, manipulated or in general, greatly disappointed in others. So has the Savior, along with Joseph Smith and all the best who ever lived. It is an essential part of our journey to greatness.
Possible Questions: Have you ever overcome deep disappointment in the actions and words of others? How did you do it? What kinds of things can we do to strengthen ourselves when trials are especially difficult or deep? Have you ever felt sorry for yourself only to realize someone else had it far worse? What does it mean that Christianity is comforting, but often not comfortable?
Quote #4 (above all else)
“…there will be times in our lives when even our best spiritual effort and earnest, pleading prayers do not yield the victories for which we have yearned, whether that be regarding the large global matters or the small personal ones. So while we work and wait together for the answers to some of our prayers, I offer you my apostolic promise that they are heard and they are answered, though perhaps not at the time or in the way we wanted. But they are always answered at the time and in the way an omniscient and eternally compassionate parent should answer them. My beloved brothers and sisters, please understand that He who never sleeps nor slumbers cares for the happiness and ultimate exaltation of His children above all else that a divine being has to do. He is pure love, gloriously personified, and Merciful Father is His name.”
Possible Questions: Have you ever been grateful for “unanswered” prayers? What were the circumstances? Is it possible to not get the miracle or outcome we want, yet still witness the Lord’s tender mercies in our life? What tender mercies have you noticed lately? How do you feel about that majestic description of Heavenly Father – “He who never sleeps nor slumbers cares for the happiness and ultimate exaltation of His children above all else”? To worship God and Christ includes trusting Them. Does it help relieve stress to remember They are in charge and have your best interest at heart?
Quote #5 (the answer to everything)
As we now hear our beloved prophet close this conference, may we remember, as Russell Nelson has demonstrated all of his life, that those who “wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength [and] shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; … they shall walk, and not faint.” I pray that “by and by”—soon or late—those blessings will come to every one of you who seeks relief from your sorrow and freedom from your grief. I bear witness of God’s love and of the Restoration of His glorious gospel, which is, in one way or another, the answer to every issue we face in life. In the redeeming name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Possible Discussion Activity: Have you ever received answers to difficult problems through prayer, the scriptures’, the Holy Ghost, other people, etc.? Have you ever felt your strength renewed after a spiritual experience? Is it possible to experience peace, confidence and well-being during trials and difficulties? How did the latest General Conference make you feel? Which was your favorite talk and why?
Remember, you were called to lead this lesson for a reason. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself! Teaching and lifting up discouraged hearts are truly Christ-like.