Faith in Jesus Christ's sacrifice for humanity pulls people out of the pit of despair and sin, and enables them to return eventually into God's presence, the new general president of the all-women LDS Relief Society said Saturday.
"It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us," Pres. Linda K. Burton told nearly 20,000 women gathered for the annual Relief Society meeting in the giant LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, and millions more watching via satellite at Mormon chapels across the world, "but we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires ... to live in us not only to direct us but also to empower us."
Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society presidency, told the women that faith is essential, but it doesn't guarantee a crisis-free life.
When Reeves' husband was ill with a rare disease and possibly dying, she was overcome fear at losing him, which prompted waves of "loneliness, despair and even anger."
For days, she said, she couldn't pray or plan. All she did was cry until she again turned to God.
After pouring out her heart, Reeves said, "the sweetest, most peaceful, loving feeling came over me" and she was determined never to turn away from God again. Her husband recovered.
Years later, she had a similar feeling of peace and love as she knelt at the bedside of her 17-year-old daughter, even though the girl passed away.
"We have come to know what it means to cast our burdens upon the Lord, to know that He knows us, loves us, and feels compassion for us in our sorrows and pain."
This life is a "time of testing," said Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, "and we will continue to have opportunities to use our agency to choose what we will learn from the adversity that will surely come."
Relief Society awakens Mormon women spiritually, Stephens said, helping them to "increase in faith and personal righteousness."
Serving those in need whether it be a new mother, an aging parent, an out-of-work neighbor or a dying friend is something Mormon women do routinely, said Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the LDS First Presidency.
"Even though extended and loving service to people is richly rewarded, you have learned that there are physical, emotional, and financial limits to what is possible," Eyring said. "There must be a balance between "your desire to do all you can to help others, with the wisdom to be prudent in meeting your own needs."
Even caregivers need to "rest and accept help," he said.
God, Eyring said, is the "greatest nurturer" of all.