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What I learned about God’s character from a footnote of Elder Uchtdorf’s general conference talk

by | Nov. 20, 2020

Editor's note: Our bi-weekly Friday column, “Found in the footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I’ve recently been studying about the character of God, as it seemed to fit well with the 2020 theme of “hear Him.” The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, He begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to come to us.”

Perhaps my interest in this topic is why I found part of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s October 2020 general conference talk so compelling. In the address, he states, “Our Heavenly Father knows that we suffer, and because we are His children, He will not abandon us.”

He expounds on this thought in a footnote: “If God commands His children to be aware of and compassionate toward the hungry, the needy, the naked, the sick, and the afflicted, surely He will be aware of and merciful to us, His children (see Mormon 8:39).”

Though there are many scriptures that talk about how God is aware of us, I had never thought about it in this way before. Surely God is aware of us because he commands us to be aware of others.

When was the last time you felt God was aware of you? As a high school seminary student, my seminary teacher, Brother Goff, gave each of us a journal with a picture of the Savior on the cover. Inside the first page I wrote a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball: “Those who keep a personal journal are more likely to remember the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.” That quote has stayed with me. Through the years, occasionally I’ll devote an entire entry to small ways I’ve seen the Lord’s hand in my life. As I do so, I see the ways God is aware of me and I recognize how merciful He has been in my life.

I recently finished reading Almighty by David Butler. The subheading of each chapter highlights an element of our Father’s love for us, such as “God showed us love by sending us Jesus,” “God showed us love by providing a plan,” or “God shows His love through constant and consistent care.”

In the book, Butler shares a time he felt God’s love while serving as a missionary in South Korea. Butler was feeling homesick, overwhelmed, and unsuccessful as he stood on a college campus when the song “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks started to play over the loudspeakers, transporting him back to a treasured memory of a trip to New York with his mom. Butler writes:

All at once tears came falling out of my eyes without my permission. God was playing me a song! In English. At the right moment. Halfway across the world. He just wanted me to know He remembered where I was.

Butler then shares a quote from Elder Bednar’s talk, “Tender Mercies of the Lord:”

“Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence.”

Butler then writes:

God is consistently trying to reach out to us, teach us, and take care of us in the best ways. But sometimes it’s so subtle we miss it if we aren’t looking for it. He sends us friends at the exact time we need them in our life, the perfect sunset on the night we feel alone, the late night conversation that is an answer to prayer, or the song that seems to be played just for you on the radio, at church, or on the Korean college campus. Everywhere we turn, we can see His merciful and tender hand guiding, protecting, and moving in the details of our lives. He is everywhere. In the halls of school, while we are closing at work, in our families, friendships, and conversations. In our brightest days and darkest moments. Everywhere. On a Friday night as much as on a Sunday morning. His love and goodness fill the whole world—your whole world.

It's my hope we can look for the subtle ways God is reaching to us, especially amid all of the commotion in our lives right now. In his talk, Elder Uchtdorf acknowledged our current struggles, saying “My dear friends, my beloved brothers and sisters, God will watch over and shepherd you during these times of uncertainty and fear. He knows you. He hears your pleas. He is faithful and dependable. He will fulfill His promises.”

God is aware of us—we just have to look.

And in return, perhaps we can do our part to be aware of others during these times. In his talk, Elder Uchtdorf explains how being part of the Lord’s work may differ from our past experiences. He shares the example of how Simon Peter had to cast his nets on the other side to find fishes. Elder Uchtdorf then says:

God has revealed and will continue to reveal His almighty hand. The day will come when we will look back and know that during this time of adversity, God was helping us to find better ways—His ways—to build His kingdom on a firm foundation.

I bear my witness that this is God’s work and He will continue to do many unimaginable things among His children, His people. God holds us in the palm of His caring and compassionate hands.

So until that day when we look back and see how God prepared better ways to build His kingdom, may we all press forward knowing that God surely does hold us in the palm of His hands.

Lead image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Image titleSome of our most foundational doctrines surround the character of God and our relationship with Him. But who exactly is He? Does He know me? Can I know Him? This book is designed to help you discover the answers to those questions and more. Grab a pen or a pencil, get ready to do some creative thinking, and come closer to God the Father by learning about His identity, His character, and—most importantly—how He feels about you. Almighty is available at DeseretBook.com

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Lindsey Williams

Lindsey Williams joined the LDS Living team with a passion to find the stories that matter most. Previous stops in her career include BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the Special Projects Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Utah Valley Magazine. When she's not searching for stories to write, the Colorado Springs native is most likely on a hiking trail. Follow her on Twitter with the handle @lindsey5brooke.

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