“God Knows and Loves You”

Elder Alan T. Phillips

2023 October General Conference

“Life is challenging. Many people feel overwhelmed, alone, isolated, or exhausted. When things are difficult, we may feel that we have wandered or fallen behind. Knowing that we are all children of God and members of His eternal family will restore a sense of belonging and purpose.President M. Russell Ballard shared: “There is one important identity we all share now and forever. … That is that you are and have always been a son or daughter of God. … Understanding this truth—really understanding it and embracing it—is life-changing.”

Do not misunderstand or devalue how important you are to your Father in Heaven. You are not an accidental by-product of nature, a cosmic orphan, or the result of matter plus time plus chance. Where there is design, there is a designer.

Your life has meaning and purpose. The ongoing Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings light and understanding regarding your divine identity. You are a beloved child of Heavenly Father. You are the subject matter of all those parables and teachings. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to heal, rescue, and redeem you.

Jesus Christ recognized the divine nature and eternal worth of each person. He explained how the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor are the foundation of all of God’s commandments.One of our divine responsibilities is to care for those in need. This is why as disciples of Jesus Christ we “bear one another’s burdens, … mourn with those that mourn … , and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”

Religion is not only about our relationship with God; it is also about our relationship with each other. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained that the English word religion comes from the Latin religare, meaning “to tie” or, more literally, “to re-tie.” Thus, “true religion [is] the tie that binds us to God and to each other.”

How we treat one another truly matters. President Russell M. Nelson teaches, “The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire.” This is even more important when our fellow travelers feel lost, alone, forgotten, or removed. We do not have to look far to find people who are struggling. We can start by helping someone in our own family, congregation, or local community. We can also seek to relieve the suffering of the 700 million people living in extreme povertyor the 100 million people who are forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, and identity-based violence.Jesus Christ is the perfect example of caring for those in need—the hungry, the stranger, the sick, the poor, the imprisoned. His work is our work.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong teaches that “our journey to God is often found together.” As such, our wards should be a refuge for all of God’s children. Are we passively attending church or actively creating communities whose purpose is to worship, remember Christ, and minister to one another? We can heed President Nelson’s counsel to judge less, love more, and extend the pure love of Jesus Christ through our words and actions.…He will lovingly provide the strength and healing you need to face the journey ahead. He is the refuge from our storms still.

…We live in a time when, for many, only “seeing is believing.” Faith can be challenging and requires choices. But prayers are answered. And answers can be felt. Some of the most real things in life are not seen; they are felt, known, and experienced. They too are real. Jesus Christ wants you to know and have a relationship with your Father in Heaven. He taught, “What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?” Can you think of a more personal, loving image of God the Eternal Father?

You are His child. If you are feeling lost, if you have questions or lack wisdom, if you are struggling with your circumstances or wrestling with spiritual dissonance, turn to Him. Pray to Him for comfort, love, answers, and direction. Whatever the need and wherever you are, pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. For some, you may want to follow President Nelson’s invitation and ask “if He is really there—if He knows you. Ask Him how He feels about you. And then listen.”

Dear brothers and sisters: Know your Father in Heaven. He is perfect and loving. Know who Jesus Christ is. He is our Savior and Redeemer. Bind yourself and those you love to Him. And know who you are. Know your true divine identity. God’s plan of happiness is all about you. You are His precious child and of great worth. He knows and loves you. Of these simple but foundational truths I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”