1 | Embracing the MESSY. Being highly favored of the Lord tends to sound easy. It tends to sound free of challenge or struggle or messy. But that isn't the point. That isn't the lesson. Being highly favored of the Lord means that in your challenge – your struggle – your messy, He is there, leading you through. He lovingly embraces all parts of you to strengthen you – to change you. Apart from an individual level, being highly favored can even be seen in a worldwide perspective. Just think about the ways in which we have been highly favored during a messy past year with a prophet who has prepared us with: home-centered and church supported gospel, ministering in a higher and holier way, and by finding a ‘heightened joy’ in the return of temple ordinances.
2 | Embracing the AND. Sometimes it can be hard to feel highly favored of the Lord. We might be tempted with thoughts that being highly favored is something we need to earn or be worthy of. What if we embrace the ‘and’ here? Embrace the truth that we are highly favored of the Lord AND have trials to shape our earthly experience. Embrace that we are highly favored of the Lord AND are imperfectly walking back to our heavenly parents. There's something special to be said about holding two seemingly opposite thoughts together in your mind and heart.
3 | Embracing the MERCY. God's voice of mercy echos in the pages of the past. Scriptural accounts teach us of His hand guiding, loving, and blessing individuals and families even in the midst of challenges. From Paul and Silas to Alma and Amulek, God "blesses those to accomplish greatness in adversity". They were not defined by their restrictions, but what they were able to accomplish with God's help. And so it is with each of us. We are not defined by our restrictions, be it pandemic-incurred physical restrictions or other mental and emotional restrictions, but by how we utilize God's gift of His Son's sacrifice in our lives. God's pattern of mercy continues in our lives today just as it did for prophets of old. We can trust that as we embrace His gift of mercy, we too will be blessed to accomplish greatness.
"Times of affliction and disappointment do not change the watchful eye of the Lord as He favorably looks upon us, blessing us."
GARY E. STEVENSON
"Brothers and sisters, I believe that one day, each of you will look back at the canceled events, the sadness, the disappointments, and the loneliness attendant to the challenging times we are passing through to see them overshadowed by choice blessings and increased faith and testimonies. I believe that in this life, and in the life to come, your afflictions, your Ammonihah, your Liberty Jail, will be consecrated for your gain."
GARY E. STEVENSON
INVITATION: Acknowledge & Recognize At the end of his talk, Elder Stevenson prays that we will be able to acknowledge the afflictions in our lives while also recognizing that we are highly favored of the Lord. Acknowledge and recognize the Lord's favor in your life with these two journal prompts: 1) What evidence do I have that I am highly favored of the Lord? 2) How does this knowledge help me to accomplish great things with the help of the Lord, even in the midst of trial? Take a look at these prompts throughout the week and see how your evidence list grows or your abilities expand. Share your insights with us!
AFFIRMATION: I am highly favored of the Lord. He has endowed me with special gifts and is favorably looking over me, blessing me, to accomplish greatness.
-Taylor LaMay, Marketing Specialist