Speaking the day before Easter Sabbath on March 31, Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk, General Authority Seventy, taught about the "essential and precious gift" of forgiveness, offered to all from the Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Elder Echo Hawk told about his brother Tommy who was killed by a 20-year-old drunk driver on a December night in 1982. He had crashed violently into the car driven by Tommy and instantly killed him and his wife, Joan.
After some time had passed, a court sentencing hearing was held for the driver and he was found responsible for Tommy's death. Elder Echo Hawk's parents and oldest sister, Katy, attended the hearing, as did the drunk driver's parents who sat on a bench and wept after the hearing concluded.
"After a moment, my parents and sister stood up and walked to the driver's parents, and offered them words of comfort and forgiveness," Elder Echo Hawk said. There was "deep sorrow and tears for all and a recognition that both families had suffered immensely. Mom, Dad and Katy led the way with their quiet strength and courage, and showed our family what forgiveness looks like."
Elder Echo Hawk said that this example softened his own heart and opened a pathway to healing. "Only with the help of the Prince of Peace was my painful burden lifted. My heart will always miss Tommy and Joan, but forgiveness now allows me to remember them with unfettered joy."
While individuals must be held accountable for their criminal acts and civil wrongdoings, sons and daughters of God who follow Jesus Christ "are to be forgiving even when it seems others may not warrant our forgiveness," Elder Echo Hawk said.
"We can all receive unspeakable peace and partnering with our Savior as we learn to freely forgive those who have 'trespassed against' us. This partnering brings the Savior's power into our lives in an unmistakable, never-to-be forgotten way."
Elder Echo Hawk invited everyone "to forgive completely and let healing occur from within. And even if forgiveness does not come today, know that as we desire it and work for it, it will come — just as it eventually did for me after my brother's death."
In closing, he said, "By having a forgiving spirit and acting upon it, like my parents and oldest sister, we can realize the promise of the Savior: 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid'" (John 14:27).