GCBC Week 11: “It Is Better to Look Up” by Elder Carl B. Cook, and “The Songs They Could Not Sing” by Elder Quentin L. Cook

Since we learned all about priorities and time management last week from Elder Ardern, I thought this week I’d really put you to the test.  Actually, I just selected two talks because they go really well together.  I know you’re all busy getting ready for Christmas, but I promise that slowing down to study these talks will give you some much-needed moments of peace and instruction.

These are both great talks.  All of us face challenges in different forms.  I often wonder at the challenges of others and how they possibly handle them, but the fact is:  God customizes our challenges just for us, and He has prepared us to face them.  He knows who we are, and He believes in us.  In addition to his faith, He also offers us His help.  Sometimes the most important thing we need to get through a challenge is the knowledge that we are not in it alone.  Both talks reassure us that Heavenly Father is nearby and willing to offer us support and relief in our trials.  Like the enslaved people we read about in Mosiah 24, we learn that our challenges are rarely removed, but that the Lord lightens our burdens and helps us find a cheerful heart even under the weight of them.  I’m looking to forward to reading what you love about these talks.

It Is Better to Look Up  by Elder Carl B. Cook

“Experience has taught me that if we, like President Monson, exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy.We will come to realize that most of what we worry about is not of eternal significance—and if it is, the Lord will help us. But we must have the faith to look up and the courage to follow His direction.”

The Songs They Could Not Sing by Elder Quentin L. Cook

“There are many kinds of challenges. Some give us necessary experiences. Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan. The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God.”

What about these talks stood out to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

p.s. Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done by Elder Robert D. Hales is another excellent talk about patience through trials, but we’ll study that one later.

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion.

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11 thoughts on “GCBC Week 11: “It Is Better to Look Up” by Elder Carl B. Cook, and “The Songs They Could Not Sing” by Elder Quentin L. Cook

  1. It Is Better to Look Up

    This talk really touched me. His examples were very tangible, concrete, and they spoke to my soul in a way that I needed.

    I could relate to his feelings that day in the elevator when he felt burdened. I loved the visual of looking up. Also loved the idea – if you can’t look up, at least look to the prophet and he will direct your focus up. Isn’t that what we are doing with this General Conference Book Club? Looking to the prophets and their teachings and letting those direct us heavenward.

    Loved the balloon idea with the atonement. Not sure we could do that for an activity because of environmental concerns, but it would make a great object lesson.

  2. The Songs They Could Not Sing

    One of the great questions I have wrestled with multiple times in my life is how can a loving God stand by and watch the horrible things that happen on this earth. Each time I have struggled with this question, I have learned that God loves his children, that he is in control, and that our understanding is so small compared to his.

    This talk is beautiful. And it answers those, who like me, have asked, “How can there be a God if these bad things happen?”

    I also loved the phrase that the atonement “compensate[s] for all the unfairness of life.” That is forever added to my own personal definition of the atonement.

    Today in Sacrament meeting we sang I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and the spirit spoke to me as I sang that age old question and then the answer:

    And in despair I bowed my head:
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said
    “For hate is strong and mocks the song
    of peace on earth good will to men.

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
    God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
    The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
    with peace on earth, good will to men.

    • I love this hymn, too! It isn’t sung very often, but I remember singing it last year and getting really emotional through the last few verses. What a powerful Christmas song. And truly how it feels sometimes in this world – that hate is strong and mocks peace.

  3. These were both great talks to help us to keep an eternal perspective on the trials we face in life. Growing up I thought living the gospel was like insurance against bad things happening to us. Now that I’m grown up, I see the trials are the rule, not the exception. Everyone is struggling with something. Sometimes our trials are visible to others but lots of times people carry “sorrows that the eye can’t see”. I appreciated the advice to look to the prophet and to trust in the Savior to see us through our difficulties.

  4. I don’t really have any wise words to share. Just that trials are hard. And what makes it even harder is that I know that miracles and tender mercies can and do happen; and it’s so frustrating when it’s not happening for me and my life in my timetable. So I really appreciated these talks and the reminder that I’m not in the last act of the play yet and I need to continue to look up and trust and that my burden will be lifted, if not taken away.

  5. Love both talks. I agree with other posters – trials are hard. I see some of the miracles that have happened in my life, but the trials never end. I know that the more my focus is on the Savior and my covenants that life eases just enough and sometimes alot. Keep going, keep going I tell myself. It’s time to get to work 🙂

  6. One of the things I thought about when I read these talks (particularly Elder Quentin L Cook’s talk) was the three sources of suffering in this life:
    1.) our own sins/disobedience to the Lord’s commandments
    2.) the sins/disobedience of others
    3.) the condition of mortality (this would include diseases, natural disasters, accidents, etc)

    When you can look at your trials and accurately classify them in one of these three categories I think it is easier to deal with them. If they are my own sins, the way I deal with them is by repentance and partaking of the atonement. If they are in category #2 or #3, the way I deal with them is by taking my pain and anger and sorrow to the Lord and partaking in His atonement.

    It’s all about the atonement. Sometimes we forget that we can use the atonement for ALL pain – not just pain caused by our own sins and disobedience.

    I have been learning a lot about that lately. And of course I wrote more over on my blog.

    I’m really enjoying this book club, Stephanie! 🙂 Thanks for keeping us all accountable 😉

  7. As a mother who has raised a pack of youngsters and talked with even more youth that came and went in my life, I’ve heard and discussed the question. “Why does Heavenly Father allow bad things to happen to good people?” Quentin L. Cook made this idea the topic of his recent General Conference.

    Suffering caused by our own disobedience to God’s commandments, the sins of others, and suffering caused by being part of the human race. Our bodies are intended to serve us in mortality. Only after death and resurrection, will they be immortal and no longer subject to vice, pain, sickness, and so forth. Some are claimed in war, accident, and natural disasters. Who is to say that it wasn’t the appointed time of these people?

    I’m looking up to hear the singing.

    I’ve written more about it on my blog.
    http://alittleginger.blogspot.com/2011/12/look-up-to-hear-singing.html

  8. I enjoyed reading both talks so much, and wanted to mention a quote that was in the footnotes of Elder Cook’s talk: “God…sees the beginning from the end….The arithmetic…is something we mortals cannot comprehend. We cannot do the sums because we do not have all the numbers.” (Elder Maxwell). That imagery really helps me understand how there will be times when we won’t understand why things happen to us and others, and that we just need to trust Heavenly Father. Instead of doubting, we can have faith – that the One who has all of the numbers is doing the arithmetic.

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