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Troy and Deedra Russell could be considered modern examples of Job, the most tried and tested figure in the Bible.
One of their sons died after Troy accidentally backed his van onto him six years ago, and Deedra has been hospitalized since September after a horrific crash. In the middle of the night on I-15 in northwestern Arizona, a pickup truck apparently driven by a drunk driver appeared in front of her the wrong way and crushed her sedan in a horrific crash.
Yet they now love God and trust more than ever.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared their story Tuesday during a BYU devotional that echoed some of his previous teachings on the nature of God.
God allows what Hamlet described as “the sea of troubles of mortality,” Elder Holland said Tuesday, but He does not cause them.
“Now ‘allowing something’ is another matter,” he said. “God can and will if it’s ultimately for our good. I’ll say it again. God doesn’t do to you now and will never do to you a destructive, malicious and unjust thing, ever. It’s not even in what Peter calls “the divine nature” that it is possible to do God by definition and in fact is perfectly and thoroughly, always and forever, good, and everything he does is for our good. I promise you that God does not stay up at night trying to find ways to disappoint us or hurt us, or crush our dreams or our faith.
In fact, he says, keeping God’s commandments is one way of caring for one another in a gospel that asks his children to love their neighbor as themselves.
“Without listing again the crushing costs borne by the victim and the author of this accident, we must salute the tears of a heavenly Father who asks us to take care of each other, to be cautious rather than reckless with the welfare of our sisters and brothers Childlike obedience to his parental calls and divine warnings will save us and others the agony in the end.
Elder Holland then put himself on the list of people who erred in a way that cries out for a loving and forgiving Heavenly Father.
“There isn’t a single one of us on this campus who hasn’t needed forgiveness for a mistake made somewhere, at some time,” he said. “Our act may not have been as bad as the one we are recounting today, but we have all made mistakes, and some of them were serious mistakes. I include myself in this list. What whatever the event, we all thank God for being a forgiving Father and for the gifts of mercy and relief he offers us, all of which ultimately come to us through the majestic atonement of his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus -Christ We must join and participate in this offering.
God is perfectly good.
God is a forgiving Father.
These statements echoed Elder Holland’s 2003 general conference address:The greatness of Godin which he said Latter-day Saints would be thrilled if others would adopt the Father’s view described in one of their books of scripture, the Pearl of Great Price.
In it, Enoch finds himself amazed at the sight of God the Father weeping as he sees the blessings and challenges of human life. Enoch asks the most powerful being in the universe, “How can you cry?”
Looking at almost daily events, God responds, “Here are your brothers; they are the work of my own hands. … I gave them … (a) the commandment that they love one another and choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. …Why should not the heavens weep, seeing that these will suffer?
Elder Holland said then that many in the world viewed Jesus Christ as more welcoming, but he taught that “in his life and especially in his death Christ declared: ‘This is Gods compassion that I show you, as well as mine.
Latter-day Saint theology therefore holds that God is loving and forgiving and mourns with us when we suffer. He is a God of refuge.
“We don’t know why all the things that happen to us in life happen, when sometimes we’re spared tragedy and sometimes we’re not,” Elder Holland said Tuesday. “But that’s where faith really has to mean something, or it isn’t faith at all,…And, as sweet Sister Holland always tells missionaries, faith isn’t really faith. faith if you have something else to hold on to.”
Watch the full devotional of Elder Holland here.
Contribute to a GoFundMe collection for the Russells here.
My recent stories
Jeffrey R. Holland: How 2 Car Crashes Demonstrate the Power of Forgiveness, Faith (January 18)
President Russell M. Nelson Honors Martin Luther King Jr.: “Abandon Prejudicial Attitudes and Actions” (January 17)
‘Guilty, Your Honor’: Man Who Dressed As Captain Moroni For Jan. 6 Capitol Breach Reaches Plea Deal (January 14)
2 Apostles, 3 Great American Writers to Speak at BYU This Semester (January 14)
The man who dressed as Captain Moroni during the Capitol breach on January 6 is expected to reach a plea agreement (January 13)
what i read
President Nelson extended many invitations during his four years as president of the church. The Church News has collected several in six categories.
Church leaders are urging members to schedule temple appointments well in advance as COVID-19 cases rise nationwide.
Sheri Dew hosted the Church News podcast with BYU athletic directors Tom Holmoe and Liz Darger. They talked about BYU’s outstanding fall athletic performance, honor code, and gospel principles.
The list of speakers for RootsTech 2022 is being rolled out. Actor Matthew Modine and a famous French baker will be among the keynote speakers. So will a favorite Argentine singer.
Remember Kim Peek, the real “Rain Man?” My colleague Christian Sagers wrote an insightful article on why we overlook his legacy of mystery and marvel at our peril.
This long piece on the breach of the Capitol of January 6, 2021 is the best I’ve read from the point of view of Capitol Hill cops.
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) had fun at the expense of the 13 NFL players who were tackled by legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
The debate over voting rights in Congress and across America is complex. As a journalist, I don’t take sides, but while this opinion piece does, I’m including it here because the first half reviews some of Latter-day Saint history on different aspects of the right to vote at different times.