Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dear Senior Missionaries:

John, chapters 13 through 16, records the events of the last supper with Jesus. As you read these passages, you can almost feel the heightened anxiety of all in attendance at this, the Last Supper.

Despite the challenges and persecution of the previous three years, it appears the Apostles felt safe with Jesus whom they understood to be the promised Messiah and the Son of God. After all, they had seen Him calm the wind, help the blind to see and raise the dead. However, He now informs them He is leaving and they will be left to continue the work without Him. They seem to be reeling at this thought. Several wanted to know why he had to leave and why they couldn’t go with Him. There was genuine confusion on the part of the Apostles.

In John chapter 14 we read of the Savior’s reassuring words to His Apostles that the Father will send the Holy Ghost to teach them all things and bring to their remembrance whatsoever thing He had taught them. He begins with the tender statement, “Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

He then begins to teach them of the sacred role of the Holy Ghost and then issues these encouraging words, “Peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Twice he tries to persuade them to not be troubled and offers encouragement. We learn later that the peace He was speaking of was not the peace that implies a lack of conflict or trouble or persecution. Remember, the apostles suffered terrible persecution and were ultimately executed (except for John) for following Christ. The peace He was speaking of is the peace of mind or assurance of His promise of immortality and eternal life for those who follow Him and make and keep His sacred covenants.

Like the Apostles of old, I think too often we suppose that if we follow Christ we will be blessed with fewer conflicts, persecution and heart ache, yet this was not the design of the great plan of happiness. We have to have opposition in all things (2 NE 2:11) and all these things give us experience (D&C 122:7).

I appreciate all you have left behind in order to serve here in the Virginia, Richmond mission. I know you have spouses who have graduated to Paradise, family you have left behind and a myriad of physical challenges. Despite the obstacles, you have gained perspective on the promised peace spoken of by our common Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You understand the blessings promised to those who keep their first and second estate. You hear the still small voice that reassures the sons and daughters of God that the challenges we experience here in mortality shall be for a season. Therefore, be of good cheer and press on in the peace (or assurance) of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Kind regards,

President Perry

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