During the Saturday morning session I was also struck by how old President Packer looked. He has been in poor health for a while and has delivered his last few conference talks seated in a chair instead of standing at the podium.
Considering the relative health of Presidents Monson and Packer, up until this past conference I would have assumed that President Packer would pass away before President Monson. But while I listened to President Packer the thought entered my mind that he may out live President Monson. This would be important since President Packer is currently the senior apostle which means that if President Monson were to die then President Packer would be the next prophet.
I was intrigued by this possibility because I remember a few years ago some people got upset with something President Packer had said in a conference talk and took their complaint to the megaphone of the internet. Within just a few hours there were YouTube videos with the "offending" statement and a slew of comments wishing a quick death on President Packer. There were others calling on the Church to "officially distance itself" from his comments. Still others threatened to leave the Church over his "hate filled" and "sickening" comments.
Like so many things they were making the proverbial mountain out of a mole hill (more like an ant hill). They seemed surprised that an apostle would actually teach official Church doctrine as, well, official. There really was nothing surprising about what President Packer said, unless you assumed that he, and the Church, would simply go along with the "popular" morality of our day. So those who simply assumed that the Church would blithely follow whatever wind of doctrine was currently blowing in popular culture were shocked to find that President Packer would say, "No. We still keep our same morals."
So a week ago when I was watching conference I considered the real possibility that President Packer might be the next president of the Church. This was odd because I had for several years fully expected him to pass away before President Monson. I thought, "It may just be that the Lord is allowing President Packer to live just long enough to justify His servant."
I do not claim any special knowledge of what the Lord has planned, but from my experience I do know that the Lord respects and will justify His servants. As Nephi said shortly before he died:
"And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness."And as Moroni said:
"And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleading bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead."Also as Jesus told Moroni in comfort:
"Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.... If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father."I know that the Lord will justify His servants in His own way, but last week I thought that the Lord might let President Packer live just long enough to become the president of the Church. This would give members the chance to sustain President Packer as the prophet. In this way He would justify His servant. I do not know if this is what will happen, but however the Lord chooses to do it, in this life or the next, He will justify all his servants.
Here is a link to one of my favorite talks by President Packer.