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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Apostolic Health Update: Elder L. Tom Perry to undergo cancer treatments; Elder Richard G. Scott Hospitalized

More on the health of two of our apostles was revealed today on the news. Elder L. Tom Perry has been diagnosed with cancer in his thyroid gland. He began chemotherapy treatments this morning. In the meantime, Elder Richard G. Scott was hospitalized yesterday night with gastrointestinal bleeding. He is past the worst of it and is reported to be resting comfortably in the hospital.

This announcement on the news at noon broke my heart today. I sat silently weeping for several minutes after hearing about all this. I mentioned before how hard it is for me to see the brethren I have loved and sustained for so long having such difficulties as they near the end of their lives. It gave me pause to think, "Am I giving sufficient heed to these brethren who might not be around much longer to uplift and inspire us?"

I look at the apostles serving in our day. President Monson has his health challenges that go with his almost 88 years of age. In addition to his diabetes, he is now also dealing with whatever kept him from speaking more frequently during general conference weekend at the beginning of this month/ President Packer is dealing with a recurrence of his childhood polio. Elder Perry now has cancer. Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks, and Elder Ballard are still by all reports healthy. Elder Scott has had this gastrointestinal bleeding. Elder Hales has his health challenges which have kept him from attending and speaking at several general conference as he served as a seventy, Presiding Bishop of the Church, and now as an apostle. Elder Holland, President Eyring, President Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar, Elder Cook, Elder Christofferson, and Elder Andersen are by all accounts still doing well, though President Eyring did suffer a sprained ankle soon after taking on his current assignment as First Counselor in the First Presidency.

President Eyring will be 82 next month. Elder Bednar celebrates his 63rd birthday in June. President Monson will be 88, Elder Perry will be 93, Elder Oaks and Elder Hales will be 83, and Elder Andersen will be 64 in August. Elder Cook will be 75 and President Packer and Elder Nelson.will be 91 in September. Elder Ballard will be 88 in October, and Elder Scott turns 88 and President Uchtdorf will be 75 in November. Elder Holland will be 75 in December. Elder Christofferson marked his 70th birthday in January.

It is sobering to think about how many of these 15 brethren may be called home in the next several years. Many of them have already exceeded the anticipated life expectancy. The face of Church leadership could change drastically at any moment. Many have suggested that a kind of "emeritus status" should be put into place much like the emeritus status of members of the First Quorum of the Seventy. They miss the mark because only the Lord controls when the tenure of an apostle ends, unless he falls into apostasy and is excommunicated. However, that's not something I foresee happening anytime soon. Each of the brethren is much more likely to serve the remainder of his life. How long that will be for each of them is known only to the Lord.

As I mused upon these things today, the thought came to my mind that I'm glad the Lord is in charge. If it were up to me, I might be tempted to prolong the lives of these good men, and that's not the Lord's plan. As terrible as it is for me to say, based on what I know about these men, I thought that, due to their health, Elder Hales and President Packer would be the first to be called home. Now with Elder Perry and Elder Scott's illnesses, particularly when talking about cancer and gastrointestinal bleeding, I don't know what expect. But I take comfort that the Lord controls the death dates of his apostles. And I feel certain that when each of these men is called home, the Lord will put in his stead someone equally as wonderful, who we will love and sustain as fully as we did those who passed on.

I testify of a perfect system of succession that allows us to draw upon the wisdom of the ancients for as long as the Lord wills it to be so. I testify that this is the Lord's work, that He is in control, and that if we leave those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators in His hands, everything will work out in the Lord's due time. I testify that He leads His work under inspiration given to these men, and of the vital importance in giving heed to their words while they are with us and even after they depart. Periodically I have taken time to review conference talks given by brethren who are now on the other side of the veil. And their words still move me as fully as they did when they were alive. There is power in the priesthood of our Lord and those who exercise it in overseeing this work under His inspiration. The Lord is in control, and all is well. I so testify in  the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.