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How to enjoy the peace that 'passeth all understanding'

In challenging times, disciples of Jesus Christ have been promised the “peace … which passeth all understanding” (see Philippians 4:7). We see this promise realized over and over again in individual’s lives.

On May 4, former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett passed away. Bennett represented the state of Utah from 1992-2010. He was a man of impeccable integrity, beloved by those on both sides of the aisle for his ability to listen, to love, to work together to craft solutions and to unify — something desperately needed in American politics today.

Bennett was also a man of great understanding and charity. Having charity, the pure love of Christ, is the greatest endowment an individual can aspire to — the capacity to see others as Jesus Christ sees them and to love them as he loves them, with perfect, unconditional love.

The Sunday after his death, Mother’s Day, May 8, and two days before his funeral, his wife, Joyce, was in the Arlington 2nd Ward Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with her two daughters. A longtime member of the ward, she was surrounded by friends and loved ones who, in ways big and small, shared her loss.

The Relief Society lesson was on turning to the scriptures and prayer as ways to be taught by God. To illustrate this concept, the teacher divided the class into groups and gave each group a different book of scripture. My daughter, Rachel, and sister-in-law, Linda, happened to be in Joyce’s group, and they were asked to use the Book of Mormon. This experience is shared with their family's permission.

Each group was to select a person to randomly open the scriptures and place her finger on a verse. The members of the group were to then relate that scripture to their lives. As the Book of Mormon was passed among group members, it eventually ended up in the hands of Bennett’s daughter. She closed her eyes — after her sister teased her about not “cheating” — opened the book and randomly pointed. Her finger landed on Alma 12:24:

“And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.”

It was difficult for the daughter to read such a poignant, perfectly grace-ful verse, and by the time she finished, everyone in their group could barely see through their tears. The experience was the same when shared with the entire Relief Society. Everyone there knew the goodness of Bennett’s life, of his diligence in spending his time wisely on the earth, of his quest to live a life of virtue and Christlike service in this “probationary state,” and that he was, indeed, prepared to meet God.

Perfectly comforting. Perfectly timed. A tender mercy from a gracious Father in heaven as he showed his love and concern for a grieving but believing widow and her daughters — and on Mother’s Day, no less. With this verse, he imbued them with the peace that “passeth all understanding” by reminding them that someday they will again see their husband and father, Bob Bennett, and will live with him throughout eternity.

It was also perfectly fitting because Bennett wrote "Leap of Faith: Confronting the Origins of the Book of Mormon." He loved the Book of Mormon and carefully investigated its authenticity. He ultimately came to know of its truthfulness while upon his knees, and he shared that conviction with others. The Book of Mormon was a sure and powerful guide in his life.

Everyone in that small Relief Society meeting had the privilege of witnessing God’s outreach and eagerness to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” and “mourn with those that mourn” (see Mosiah 18:9).

The Savior loves us, knows our needs and seeks to bless us. When we see with spiritual eyes (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:12), we will recognize his persistent, loving outreach in times both good and challenging, often accomplished as we open and read the scriptures. Just as he did in a small Relief Society gathering in Arlington, Virginia, when a loving widow was missing the physical presence of her eternal companion, he will reach out to guide and comfort each of us.

Kristine Frederickson writes on topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World." She teaches part time at BYU. Her views do not necessarily represent those of BYU.