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Monday, June 10, 2013

Talk in church

So, I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also called a Mormon. And each Sunday in church we have different speakers give what we call a talk - a 10-15 minute speech on a gospel topic. For this past Sunday, I was asked to give a talk on Personal Peace. I was directed to this talk by Elder Quentin L Cook on Personal Peace:

It is an excellent talk and I recommend your reading it. I struggled with the idea of speaking on personal peace...because I don't feel that my life is peaceful. I have many things that I feel peace about, but with the chaos of my life as it is - peace wouldn't be the word I would use to describe it. But after praying and pondering the topic, and asking friends and family about it, I drew up this talk. And since it's my blog, I have decided to share it here. Please note that there are excerpts taken directly from Elder Cook's talk. They are italicized, so you can know what parts I wrote myself. :) Enjoy.

"Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness"

Introduction of family
I come from a large family, oldest of six kids. Raised in OK. Met Tyler in college – another institute success story. J Married to Tyler for 12 ½ years. We have five children. Anna is our eldest and only biological miracle baby. We adopted twins, Keith & Iryna, from Ukraine in 2008. A year ago, we adopted Calvin and Silas from Russia. Tyler is active duty in the Air Force and we are stationed here for at least another year, hopefully longer.

Whereas we have many blessings and love in our home, life at the Pierce household is difficult. With four special needs children and appointments and therapies and surgeries…it’s tough. 2 weeks ago, we got a devastating diagnosis with our youngest child, Silas. We learned that not only does he have a heart condition, but he also has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. FAS is permanent brain damage caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Difficulties include impulsivity and destructiveness, and generally a low IQ. Since our daughter, Iryna, also has FAS, we knew exactly what this meant for Silas and for us. We are currently going through the stages of grief. It hasn’t been easy. And I have been looking for peace concerning it. I have prayed for peace and I have made the hymn, “Where Can I Turn For Peace?” my staple hymn to hum and sing daily. So it shouldn’t have surprised me to learn my topic for today’s talk: Personal Peace. My advice to you is to be careful what you pray for…because you might be asked to speak about it in church…much of my talk is centered around Elder Quentin L Cook’s talk: Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness from the April 2013 GC.

Phrases about peace:
Christ is the Prince of Peace
When people die, we frequently hear the phrase: Rest in Peace
Peace of mind
Peace of conscience
Peace be unto you, not as the world giveth

The word peace has different meanings. In classical Greek it refers to cessation, discontinuance, or absence of hostilities between rival forces. In Hebrew the word has a more comprehensive meaning and sometimes is just a form of greeting. Peace is also a “state of existence that comes to man only upon the terms and conditions set by God” 

Most of the quotes I hear about peace concerns the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ:

At the birth of the Savior, a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
However, it has been poignantly noted that even in this eternally significant period following the birth of the Son of God, Herod the king carried out the slaughter of innocent infants in Bethlehem. Even with Christ on the earth, there was not world peace.

Elder Quentin L Cook said: We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness. This peace is a promised gift of the Savior’s mission and atoning sacrifice.

This principle is captured in the Doctrine and Covenants: “But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”

President John Taylor taught that peace is not only desirable, but “it is the gift of God.”

President Heber J. Grant described the Savior’s peace this way: “His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness.”

We all long for peace. Peace is not just safety or lack of war, violence, conflict, and contention. Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life’s devastating trials and tragedies.

Some of my most difficult trials have centered around our adoptions. Iryna has been part of our family for 4 ½ years. Many of you might remember her from when we first brought her home back in 2008. Her orphanage and FAS behaviors were simply awful and it was all I could do to try and keep her from destroying property and hurting others. There were many moments of depression and despair, but I remember one morning I was so incredibly overcome with Iryna’s behaviors, that I began to think I just couldn’t continue on being her mother. The thought of disrupting the adoption came into my mind. I prayed earnestly for help. I was amazed to see Iryna’s behaviors that day. She was a different child. She was kind, thoughtful, showed restraint, and was an angel on earth. It was a glimpse of heaven for me and I was so grateful that God showed me what Iryna’s potential is. It brought me peace concerning her.

The Lord’s answer to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail brings solace to the heart:

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.”

Elder Bruce R McConkie shared that Christ is “The Prince of Peace”, the revealer and dispenser of inner spiritual peace, that “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” that peace which is a gift of God to the obedient. “Those who gain this peace in this life shall die in peace, continue in peace in the paradise of God, and then rise in the resurrection to inherit eternal peace in the kingdom of God. Learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come. It is an inner peace born of the sure conviction of the divinity of the Lord’s earthly kingdom; a peace which carries an assurance of a better world to come; a peace that dwells in the souls of men though they may be in the midst of war and turmoil. (From New Testament Commentary by McConkie)

Like a testimony has many facets, I think that peace is the same way. I have areas of my life which feel like war and turmoil, such as infertility and obesity, but I feel peace in other areas.  I have peace concerning my excellent choice of husband. I have peace knowing that we were supposed to adopt the twins and the boys. I have peace about Tyler serving in the Air Force. I have peace that my efforts in following the commandments are acceptable to my Father in heaven.

Remember, “God is not the author of confusion, but [the author] of peace.”  For those who reject God, there is no peace. We all participated in the councils of heaven that provided for moral agency, knowing that there would be mortal pain and even unspeakable tragedy because of the abuse of agency. We understood that this could leave us angry, bewildered, defenseless, and vulnerable. But we also knew that the Savior’s Atonement would overcome and compensate for all of the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace.

What are the sources of peace? Many search for peace in worldly ways, which never have and never will succeed. Peace is not found by attaining great wealth, power, or prominence.  Peace is not found in the pursuit of pleasure, entertainment, or leisure. None of these can, even when attained in abundance, create any lasting happiness or peace.

Emma Lou Thayne’s beloved hymn asks the appropriate questions: “Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace when other sources cease to make me whole?”  The answer is the Savior, who is the source and author of peace. He is the “Prince of Peace.”

If Christ is the author of peace, what should we do to stay close to Him? Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins, entering the waters of baptism with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace.  After King Benjamin delivered his stirring message concerning the Atonement of Christ, the multitude fell to the earth. “The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ.”  Repentance and living righteously allow for peace of conscience, which is essential for contentment.  When there has been a major transgression, confession is required to bring peace.  Perhaps there is nothing to compare with the peace that comes from a sin-wracked soul unloading his or her burdens on the Lord and claiming the blessings of the Atonement.

The Savior is the source of true peace. Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior’s Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace. In the intimate setting of the Passover chamber, the Savior promised His Apostles that they would be blessed with the “Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost” and then uttered these important words: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”30 Then just before His Intercessory Prayer: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

What can we do to feel peace? We can go to church. We can attend the temple regularly. We can pray for peace. Yesterday, I went to the cannery to can some food for our food storage. I felt peace knowing that I was following the counsel of God to build up a food storage for my family. Afterwards, Tyler & I were able to attend the temple and feel the peace therein. Before preparing this talk, I thought that to have peace in your life meant that everything would feel as it does when I’m in the temple. No messes to clean up. No laundry. No children screaming. But, after researching this talk, I know that personal peace means to have peace in knowing that I am following the commandments. I am trying to do more to improve myself. In doing this, I feel peace. I know that as I continue on the path leading me back to Heavenly Father, that I will feel more of the Savior’s peace in my life.

I know that many of you are struggling. You may feel alone in your struggles. I know that I have felt alone during mine. However, it has been revealed to me that if I continue faithful during my trials that I will gain sustaining peace from Heavenly Father. The peace to which I am referring is not just a temporary tranquility. It is an abiding deep happiness and spiritual contentment.

He will bless me and He will bless you. He loves you. He wants for you to feel peace. He allows you to pass through your trials so you can become like Him. I firmly believe that it is through our trials that we can best succor others in this life. I almost feel a kinship with others who are obese. When I hear a woman share her pain of infertility, I can relate and I can comfort. I believe that all of us have something to offer others because of these trials we face.

I know that peace is something we can all feel in this life. I know that God lives and that He loves me. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  


Conethia and Jim Bob said...

That was beautifully written! Thank you for your insight on the subject of Peace.

Ali Rae said...

Random comment, not even related to this post. I read that military families can use expired coupons? I have been collecting coupons and didn't know if you guys could use expired ones. Please email me at alimcmanamon at if interested!

Jill Pierce said...

Ali Rae, from what I understand, expired coupons can be used by military families that are stationed outside of the US. I think there is a website that helps you mail those overseas. Thanks for thinking of us!