We all know that we live in troubled times. It is no secret that unemployment in our nation is now at a twenty-six year high, banks continue to fail, and the State of California is on the verge of collapse. Outside of our nation there have been earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods as well as wars and other political problems. Every day we hear of some new problem or some person or group that needs help.
I have often wished that I could see into the future in order to make wise decisions today, but I have not yet gained this power. I did however have the opportunity to listen to a man who has the power to discern hidden things, whether in the past, present, or future. Such a person is called a seer.
Thomas S. Monson is sustained by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as president of the Church and as a prophet, seer, and revelator. I was anxious to hear his message today, and I was listening for counsel for what I should do to survive the troubles of our time. I don't really know what I expected, but I was a little surprised at his counsel. I was impressed with the way he began his message by telling us that he felt inspired to give this counsel to us. He was confident in his delivery as well as positive and upbeat in his message.
President Monson told a story about a man who has made great accomplishments in the medical field. This man grew up in a home where he was asked every day by his father, "What did you do for someone today?" The father's question inspired the man and his siblings to help other people.
President Monson quoted a few scriptures about helping other people, including the following:
"… when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17).
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25).
He also quoted David O. McKay as saying, "man's greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others."
He counseled us to step back and take a good look at how we spend our time and efforts. He said that we are too often involved in things that don't really matter, things that he called "the thick of thin things."
He told us that the ideal gift that anyone could give to him was to find someone who is ill, lonely, or just having a hard time and do something to help them. He then told stories of some of those gifts.
He closed by quoting the words of the following hymn by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909):
"Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?"
I am reminded of a movie that I really like which is called Pay It Forward about a junior high student who came up with an idea that could result in a global outpouring of kindness and decency. His idea was to do a favor that really helped someone and to tell that person to pay the favor forward to three other people rather than pay him back. The three other people would, in turn, each pay the favor forward to three more people. He started the project by helping three different people. The project mushroomed into a giant service project and changed the lives of many people, especially the lives of members of his family.
I have learned by experiences in my own life that when I am engaged in a good cause of helping other people, I have far less time to spend thinking about myself and my own problems. If everyone in our nation would do at least one daily act of service for someone else, our country would become a far better and stronger place because it would lessen the amount of selfishness and greed that is among us.
I challenge each of us to follow the advice of this wise seer and ask ourselves each day, "what did I do for someone today?" and then be inspired to do a favor that can help someone.