Merry Christmas from Elder Winegar

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

"Why seek ye me? Ye seek not me, but my master, who hath sent me, for that which I give unto thee is that which was given me by Christ.

"That which ye seek is light. Therefore, I say unto thee, seek not the light which is in me, but seek ye Christ who is the light of the world, yea, even the Son of the Living God."

There is a lot of admiration and expectation that comes as a result of being a missionary. Some weeks you don't live up to what you are called to be. I am grateful for a merciful Savior who has and will always give His all for us, even when we don't do the same for Him. 

I've had better weeks as a disciple. But the greatest gift of Christ's birth, life, and Atonement, is the gift of repentance. A new slate. Another try. Again and again and again. This Christmas season I'm grateful for the hope of second chances, made possible when our Redeemer descended from courts on high into the humble and fallen world of earth. 

My friend Seth from my old area in Blossom Valley was baptized this week. Baptism is the ordinance of the second chance. It is the expression to God that, despite mortal weakness, one is determined to follow Jesus Christ's example as best as is possible. He in turn grants us greater access to His power and a deeper knowledge of His love. I was privileged to confirm Seth a member of the church and confer upon him the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The feelings that accompany the administration of such ordinances is always a powerful assurance to all present that God's promises to us are real and binding.

Met up with some young missionary leaders for a meeting. It is always nice to learn and be edified after working really hard to teach and edify others. And of course it's always good to see old friends. 

The beginning of this week was…exasperating. It can be frustrating when one is really trying to be guided by the divine in order to help other people be happy and live better lives, but is still met with rejection or even malice. My week began with a few of those days, one after the other. The weight gradually became surprisingly heavy to bear. 

As one might expect, while I was thus weighed down, my mind was caught away in pondering the meaning of hardship in our lives. Many times we ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" However, we know that, "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34) and that "all are alike unto [Him]" (2 Nephi 26:33). Even when we choose to do evil, because of His supernal Fatherhood His perfect love for us will remain. So perhaps a better question is, why would a loving God allow His children to suffer at all? 

In answer to this primal question the Book of Mormon teaches, "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither [happiness] nor misery, neither good nor bad" (2 Nephi 2:11). Our perfectly knowing Father understands that without suffering to juxtapose joy, joy has no meaning at all. Could any one of us truly appreciate happiness if it was the only thing we had ever experienced? Thus we see that God allows hardship not out of neglect, but because He loves us and wants us to appreciate the pure joy He has in store for us. Contrary to our natural intuitions about God we learn, "...whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6).

And yet, when we are in the midst of that chastening it can be hard to retain faith in these truths. If we let it, the exquisite pain can extinguish our hope in a loving God. But, Our Heavenly Father did not leave us without consolation. He sent to us a Son.The Son. His Firstborn and Only Begotten in the flesh. He sent us Jesus Christ. When we are weary on our way and feel we can't press on another step, it would do us well to remember that baby born in humble circumstances so long ago, who would grow up to walk down the thorniest road of all, through Gethsemane and then to Calvary. Let us remember and never forget that somewhere along that dusty path He walked our road too, all of our roads, so that we wouldn't have to walk them alone. 

Finally, after days of desperation Elder Prestwich and I did find some very incredible people to teach. And we taught nothing save it was about Christ, the one who made it all possible. Just as my companion's and my challenges didn't last forever, because of Jesus Christ, we are assured that one day all suffering will end and we will dwell in glory and perfect, untarnished joy, forever. I know these things to be true. 

Songs 🎵 

Reflections–Joshua Hyslop

O' Little Town of Bethlehem–Clara Campbell

[On Youtube or in Gospel Library under Christmas Music :) ]

I love you my friends.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, 

Elder Winegar

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