You can write him at:

You can write to Zach at:

Elder Zachary Collier
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission
2600 Boyce Plaza Ste. 101
Upper St. Clair, PA 15241


Elder Zachary Collier
235 West Chestnut Street, Apt. 301
Washington, PA 15301

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elder Collier's last sacrament meeting talk

Finding Joy in Adversity
Pittsburgh 5th Ward
February 10, 2013
Brothers and Sisters,
I’d like to begin by reading the Inspired Translation of James, Chapter 1, verses 2-4:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect – and entire – wanting nothing.”
My testimony is this: the Lord speaks. He is personable and real, and the promise has been made that those who diligently seek Him shall find Him, and those who seek for His will shall gain it, and He will bless and preserve us as we live according to the light and knowledge that we possess. A man cannot be saved in ignorance, and I wish not for any of you to be ignorant of the nature of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and their love for you. A man is also saved only as fast as he gains knowledge, and I exhort you to come unto Christ, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” He said. “And ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
My address today is for all who labor and are heavy laden. My invitation to you is to learn of Christ: learn what He has said to his apostles and prophets in our day, and find rest to your souls. My testimony is sure, and I know these things are true.
With the Prophet John Taylor, I declare: “We like enjoyment here. That is right. God designs that we should enjoy ourselves. I do not believe in a religion that makes people gloomy, melancholy, miserable, and ascetic… is there anything gloomy in the works God has made? Turn where we will, we see harmony, loveliness, cheerfulness, and beauty.” Close quote.
The principles that Christ has taught us, the principles that He lived, suffered, and died for, are calculated to bring light, life, and joy to every human soul who endeavors to bring his life into conformity with them. Indeed, while we are waiting patiently for our mansions above, we can enjoy the treasures of heaven right here and now.
Why is there so much sadness, then – so much suffering, even amongst the saints? Again, John Taylor has said, “It is the corruption of the world that has made men unhappy…and gloomy. These are the miseries entailed by men, not the blessings of God.” Close quote. We live in a corrupt world. We live in a day when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, and we are faced at every turn with challenges and temptations and afflictions that may, in the moment, seem too much for us to bear. But brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into many afflictions, for all things work together for the good of those who love God, and serve him, and keep his commandments.
To the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord declared: “Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ.”
So how is it that we can count it all joy when trials trouble us? How can we be of good cheer, without fear, in the midst of affliction?
First, we must understand where our trials are coming from and why God allows them to happen. Bad things happen for three reasons. God has given all of us the gift of choice. This allows us to reason for ourselves and to learn in ways we could not if we were not able to make our own decisions. Sometimes bad things come upon us because we choose not to obey commandments, and the consequences of our negative actions come back to haunt us. It is an eternal truth that sooner or later, they always do, for wickedness never was happiness.
Other times, bad things occur in our lives because of the misdeeds of others. They sin, and it hurts us. Other times we are affected by physical ailments that are the natural result of being mortal. Sickness, fatigue, birth defects, etc. Inevitably, all of us must die. That is a natural step in the plan of salvation.
Problems from all three of these sources will come upon all of us, but let it be known: God is not the originator of our troubles. He does not sit on his throne scheming, plotting ways for us to suffer. He looks over the universe with a paternal regard for his children, and he governs with love and great care.
So why does he allow it all? Why not intervene and save us from every misstep, every agony – every regret? “Our object is to get and cleave unto everything that is good and to reject everything that is bad,” says John Taylor. “We have learned many things through suffering. We call it suffering. I call it a school of experience… we complain sometimes about our trials. We need not do that. These are things that are necessary for our perfection.” Close quote.
The purpose of this life is to taste the bitter so that we can know the sweet. Like Alma, we can be snatched from the gall of bitterness, and through the blood of our Savior, we can be brought to sing thing song of redeeming love. These experiences help us recognize our weaknesses and strengths, the weaknesses and strengths in others, the goodness of God, and the folly of the devil. It is necessary that we learn our weaknesses, our strengths, and then come to appreciate the same in others. Then we begin to see our true position before God, and we can be filled with knowledge, virtue, and love for all creation. This is the end goal of our afflictions and our time here – to love perfectly, to see perfectly – to understand perfectly; in short, to be perfect and whole, lacking nothing. This process takes time, and we must be patient.
Knowing this, that God is good, that God is there to help and bless us; that trials and afflictions build our faith and strengthen our character if we triumph over them, how can we be happy? How can we be of good cheer, without fear?
Considering that the majority of the problems we will face lie in the misuse of the gift of choice and reason, we must learn to change our thoughts and actions and bring ourselves into harmony with gospel ideals and standards. We must repent. Christ’s yoke is easy, and his burden is light, but a yoke and a burden it is, and repentance can be difficult. But remember, a yoke is a device used to link two oxen together. It enables them to work together to pull heavy loads that would be impossible to bear alone, or even together if the oxen were unyoked. When we yoke ourselves to the Savior by making and keeping sacred covenants, in the end all of the burdens we must bear are lighter.
Repentance then, is vital. Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve said this:
“Some of us who have the happiness and good cheer of the gospel can lose it by becoming involved in iniquity and deceit. One of the most destructive forms of deceit is self-deceit… perhaps we have not said enough about the fact that too many of us, in our moments of dreaming grandeur, plant the seeds of…disaster. Then at a later date, when much is lost, we blame those who participated with us. It is difficult to be of good cheer when self-deceit is our companion… over the years of listening to those who have suffered heavy… losses, I have heard many in desperation declare, ‘I was taken.’ Often my heart, mind, and the Spirit have prompted me to share, ‘Yes, you were taken by yourself.’ We all need to be encouraged to lift up our heads and see where our thoughts and undeclared priorities are taking us. Self-deceit permits us to blame others for our failures… A  constant effort must be made to lift our daily conduct so that it squares with our knowledge of truth and our standards. Self-mastery must always triumph over self-deceit for us to taste the fruits of good cheer.
“One form of self-deceit is rationalization. We prevent the Lord from being with us because we stray from his paths and explain our actions by consciously or unconsciously making excuses. We say to ourselves: ‘I did it just to see what it was like.’ ‘Everyone else was doing it.’ ‘I didn’t want to be different.’ ‘There was no other way to be accepted graciously.’ Or ‘He made me do it.’
“The companionship of good cheer is possible through keeping the commandments of God, not through rationalization. We must commit ourselves to principles and not live by comparison or excuses. Horace Mann wisely said, ‘In vain do they talk of happiness who never subdued an impulse in obedience to a principle.’” Close quote.
For us to be of good cheer, without fear, we must repent. We must learn the principle of self mastery. This principle will allow us to avoid the heartache and the trials that come from wrong doing. It will also help us when it comes time to respond to the wrong doings of others. You will be given the grace and strength to endure and to overcome. Further, the virtue and righteousness gained by obedience to principle will help you invite others to come unto Christ. The Lord uses our experiences with repentance to help others repent. A great deal of suffering can be avoided as we live the Doctrine of Christ.
However, righteous or unrighteous, trials must come to each of us. The Prophet Brigham Young said, “You all know that we must be made pure to enter the Celestial Kingdom. It is recorded that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Why should we imagine for one moment that we can be prepared to enter into the kingdom of rest with Him and the Father, without passing through similar ordeals?” Close quote. Indeed, we must be perfected through trials and suffering.

Let me conclude with an example of a time the Lord strengthened me during a period of intense sorrow. In March 2011, I was at BYU. I had just turned in my mission papers and was eagerly awaiting my mission call. Three weeks went by, and it still had not come, even though other friends who had turned in their papers with me had gotten theirs. I was disappointed. I had specifically requested that Salt Lake send it to my apartment in Provo, because I figured it would come sooner. It didn’t.
I woke up one morning to several phone calls from friends and family, each informing me that my friend Avalon had passed away. I was crushed. After hours of comforting friends on the phone, I remember lying back down on my bed and crying. I was hundreds of miles away from anyone who knew my friend, and I felt very much alone. I was called later that night by my mom, and she informed me that I was asked to speak at the funeral. We made preparations for buying a plane ticket, and I started packing. As I was packing, I got a phone call from a girl in my ward, one of my Family Home Evening sisters. Her name was Chloe. She said, “What are you doing right now?” I said I was packing. I started to explain what was going on, and she said, “I know. Your room mates told me. Set everything down, put on a white shirt and tie. I’ll be over in a few minutes. We’re going to the temple.”
Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere. I don’t think I left the apartment all day. But I did, and Chloe came and got me, and we walked to the Provo Temple. There, I had the tender experience of helping an elderly Asian woman confirm her male ancestors. There were not enough men in the temple that day to act as proxy – they were all performing the ordinances. She was frantically searching for a male to stand in, and when I walked into the baptistery she said, “You! Will you be my male?! Come be my male!” She spoke little English, but she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the confirmation room, where I was confirmed for ten of her ancestors. After the ordinances were performed, I opened my eyes. Tears were streaming down her face. She hugged me and said, “Thank you for being my male.” There was so much love in the room, and such a closeness to heaven, that I knew, then and there, that the Spirit World was not far away; that the redemptive work for the dead was true, and that my friend Avalon was in a safe place.
The righteous actions of Chloe and this sweet lady worked together to answer my prayers and strengthen my faith. I declare that it was direct intervention from our Heavenly Father that led Chloe to take me to the temple that night, and it was that very experience that gave me the strength to endure the days ahead of me.
I flew back to Washington State the next day. I got in around 5 O’Clock – a little later than I had planned. My parents picked me up from the airport and drove me home. When we walked in, my mom went to the counter to sort through the mail – my little brothers had gotten it from the mailbox while my parents were gone. My mom gasped and said, “Zachary. Get in here!” I walked into the kitchen and she handed me my mission call. “Didn’t you ask Salt Lake to send it to your apartment?” We stood there staring at it in amazement. Then there was a knock at the door. About fifteen of my friends were standing on my front porch. They had decided to come visit me after the candle light service that was held at the high school in remembrance of my friend. They were happy to see me, but the mood was very serious and you could see that many of them had been crying. Somehow the word got out that my mission call had arrived, and all of them turned to me and started saying, “Open it! Open it!” I said no. They said, “C’mon. We need some good news. Let’s open it!” It wasn’t how I had grown up thinking my mission call experience would be, but it was such a tender mercy. Surrounded by my non member friends, in my home, I opened my mission call. They all clapped for me and cheered and hugged me. After the excitement wore off, they started asking me questions. Where was Avalon? Is there life after death? Why did God let this happen? What was the purpose of life? Would we ever see him again? I was able to answer all of their questions with a smile, and with hope, because in the temple of the Lord, the truthfulness of the plan of salvation was confirmed to me.
Ever since that experience, Alma 17, verses 10 and 11 have had a special meaning to me. “And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted. And the Lord said unto them also: …be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”
Be of Good cheer, brothers and sisters. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Find joy in affliction, and do not fear, for we are clay in the hands of God, and he will smooth out our impurities, and make us perfect and beautiful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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