Peace to our souls (Holland)
The Lord has probably spoken enough such "comforting words" to supply the whole universe, it would seem, and yet we see all around us unhappy Latter-day Saints, worried Latter-day Saints, and gloomy Latter-day Saints into whose troubled hearts not one of these innumerable consoling words seems to be allowed to enter. In fact, I think some of us must have that remnant of Puritan heritage still with us that says it is somehow wrong to be comforted or helped, that we are supposed to be miserable about something.
Consider, for example, the Savior's benediction upon his disciples even as he moved toward the pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary. On that very night, the night of the greatest suffering the world has ever known or ever will know, he said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
I submit to you that may be one of the Savior's commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lord's merciful heart. I can tell you this as a parent: As concerned as I would be if somewhere in their lives one of my children were seriously troubled or unhappy or disobedient, nevertheless I would be infinitely more devastated if I felt that at such a time that child could not trust me to help, or should feel his or her interest were unimportant to me or unsafe in my care. In that same spirit, I am convinced that none of us can appreciate how deeply it wounds the loving heart of the Savior of the world when he finds that his people do not feel confident in his care or secure in his hands or trust in his commandments.
Just because God is God, just because Christ is Christ, they cannot do other than care for us and bless us and help us if we will but come unto them, approaching their throne of grace in meekness and lowliness of heart. They can't help but bless us. They have to. It is their nature. That is why Joseph Smith gave those lectures on faith, so we would understand the nature of godliness and in the process have enough confidence to come unto Christ and find peace to our souls. There is not a single loophole or curveball or open trench to fall into for the man or woman who walks the path that Christ walks. When he says, "Come, follow me" (Luke 18:22), he means that he knows where the quicksand is and where the thorns are and the best way to handle the slippery slope near the summit of our personal mountains. He knows it all, and he knows the way. He is the way.
Listen to this wonderful passage from President George Q. Cannon teaching precisely this very doctrine:
No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. He is an unchangeable being; the same yesterday, the same today, and He will be the same throughout the eternal ages to come. We have found that God. We have made Him our friend, by obeying His Gospel; and He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments. ["Freedom of the Saints," in Collected Discourses, comp. and ed. Brian H. Stuy, 5 vols. (Burbank, California: B.H.S. Publishing, 198792), 2:185; emphasis added]
Jeffrey R. Holland, CES Fireside, March 1997