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Comer: A feeling of gratitude for apostles and prophets


By Ryan Comer - | Dec 2, 2023

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Ryan Comer

I first memorized who the prophets and apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were when I was in seminary, a religious studies class geared toward high schoolers in the church.

Four from that list still remain alive: Russell M. Nelson, now president of the church, Dallin H. Oaks, Jeffrey R. Holland and Henry B. Eyring. One was lost recently with the passing of M. Russell Ballard. It’s pretty incredible, really. Three of those four men are in their 90s, with President Nelson being 99. But that’s kind of the standard for Latter-day Saint apostles. They live a long time. The average age of death of the 11 prophets and apostles who have passed away was 90.

Sometimes I wonder if I take their lives for granted because they live so long and deliver so many messages. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just getting used to having them around and perhaps not being as grateful for them as I should.

So, in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday that was just celebrated, I wanted to take this opportunity to mention something about each of the four apostles from my youth who are still around that I am grateful for. I know these men aren’t perfect, and that they would never want anyone to think that they are, but I also know that they are called to be in the positions they are in for very specific reasons, and some of those reasons are clear to me when I listen to them speak.

President Russell M. Nelson: I’m grateful for his loving and encouraging tone. Living the gospel can be hard, but I’m inspired to try harder every time I listen to President Nelson because I can feel his love and encouragement. I never feel condemned by his words because I never feel he has an intent to condemn. He simply wants everyone to find the most amount of happiness, joy and peace that they possibly can. I love the stories that he’s told over the years about the experiences that have shaped his testimony, whether it be how he performed a certain heart operation or decided to pay tithing. Those stories have stuck with me because I can think of many situations in my life where I have been blessed in ways I couldn’t imagine for following the commandments.

President Dallin H. Oaks: I’m grateful for his knowledge and wisdom and the straightforward approach he uses to deliver each of his messages. When I was younger, a key factor in how much I enjoyed a talk that was given in church was how funny the speaker was. I wanted to be humored. As I have gotten older, however, I have come to realize that what I really want is to be instructed. Humor is important and there’s a place for it, but more than anything, I want to learn from the person who is speaking. Given this shift in my mentality, there is no person I enjoy listening to more than President Oaks. He is always instructing and I am always learning from him. Sometimes he repeats teachings from previous addresses, which is a testimony to me of the importance of those teachings.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Recently, I’ve felt extremely grateful for Elder Holland’s dedication. Two weeks ago, he was made acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles following the death of President Ballard, the previous acting president. Elder Holland is the acting president because the president of the quorum is President Oaks, who is a member of the First Presidency of the church. To someone who doesn’t understand all that has happened in Elder Holland’s personal life lately, this is just a simple organizational change, the type of change that happens every time someone in a position of leadership passes away. When one president passes away, the next in line is called. So why is Elder Holland different? For one, his wife passed away in July, an event that Elder Holland said on Facebook caused him to feel “brokenhearted and lonely.” Additionally, Elder Holland found himself in the hospital. Describing his situation at President Ballard’s funeral service, he said that he was in the hospital for five weeks, three of which were “in an unconscious journey to the doorstep of death.” I don’t know how much longer we’ll be blessed to have Elder Holland with us, but I am grateful for his willingness to continue serving after such circumstances.

President Henry B. Eyring: I always appreciate President Eyring’s humble and sincere attitude. Every time I listen to him, I know that I am going to hear honest and heartfelt counsel that will make my life better if I heed it. Interesting fact: I met President Eyring once. It was when I was covering high school sports for the Standard-Examiner. I was at a girls basketball game at Bountiful High School one evening and he was in attendance. After the game, the Bountiful coach introduced me to him. The lasting memory I have of that experience wasn’t really the fact that I met President Eyring, but how humble and genuine he was. There was nothing pretentious about him, either in his appearance or his demeanor. He was simply like many of the others there, wanting to enjoy a basketball game. Having had that experience seeing him in person, it’s no surprise to me that his talks are filled with the same genuine attitude, and I appreciate it.

I’ve chosen the aforementioned four for the purposes of this article, but I could go down the list of current and previous apostles and prophets and think of numerous things for which I am grateful for. They truly do have much to teach, and we have much to learn from them. I hope that is never forgotten.

Contact Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @rbcomer8388 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rbcomer8388.


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