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David A. Hunt|Aug. 8, 2006 My dear brothers and sisters, I express my gratitude for the privilege of sharing this devotional hour with you and pray that my words will help to invite the Spirit to touch our hearts and minds. During my career here at the university, I have had numerous opportunities to witness the magnitude of struggles students can face. I admire and applaud those who pursue their academic goals while overcoming great difficulties and seemingly insurmountable challenges. The plight of a student overwhelmed by studies, financial burdens, health concerns, homesickness, and social relationships—just to name a few—is not uncommon. At best these may be difficult to bear; other times they seem impossible. I have often found that in the midst of these seemingly impossible circumstances, great relief and even joy can come as our understanding is deepened by spiritual encouragement and continued obedience to Heavenly Father’s commandments. On April 15, 1846, William Clayton was asked by President Brigham Young to compose the hymn “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”1 The purpose of this hymn was to give encouragement and support to the early pioneers as they would gather around their campfires at the end of the day. It was meant to help them forget the many difficulties and trials of their journey.2 Even today the singing of this hymn lends comfort in our trials and inspires us to “gird up [our] loins” and “fresh courage take.”3 “Though Hard to You This Journey May Appear” I wonder if we had such thoughts when we sat in the Grand Council in Heaven as spirit children of our heavenly parents before this earth was formed. In that great gathering we each had the privilege of hearing our Heavenly Father’s plan for this mortal existence. We learned that through this earth-life experience we would have the opportunity to become like our exalted parents. The prophets have revealed that we all sang together and “shouted for joy”4 at this glorious news. We were taught that this life would be a time of probation in which we would be faced with trials and tests, but if we were found true and faithful and thankful in all things, we would inherit all that our Heavenly Father had prepared for us. I feel confident that in spite of the challenges we knew we would face, we were still eager to experience this mortal state. As a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Lord declared that the ground would be cursed for Adam’s sake. It is important to note that the scriptures specify that “the ground”—not Adam—was cursed and that it would be for his “sake,” meaning for his benefit as well as for that of all his posterity.5 This would mean that Adam and his children would need to labor all their days, overcoming challenges and obstacles to obtain even the basic necessities of life. Adam and Eve were later instructed by an angel of t
Gene R. Cook|Feb. 1, 2005 What a privilege it is to be here at Brigham Young University and to be able to address all of you wonderful students. Whether you know it or not, you convey a great spirit and are having and will have a great impact upon the world. As a result of the training you receive here and your personal righteousness, you truly are, as Jesus said, a “light . . . on [a] hill” (Matthew 5:14). Sister Cook and I have been privileged to have all of our children attend BYU—six of whom have graduated and two others who are preparing to do so. At least they hope so. I hope we are all very appreciative of the First Presidency, who feel strongly about education and provide such a wonderful institution, even the Lord’s university. Loving God Even in the Face of One’s Trials This morning I would like to address a topic entitled “The Love of God: Suffering Tribulation in the Redeemer’s Name.” Above all else, I desire that you know that God loves you. He loves all of His children across the world, and in spite of the very difficult problems being encountered worldwide these days, as well as in your individual lives, the love of God permeates all. During a terrible war between the Lamanites and the Nephites where thousands were dying on both sides, Alma recorded: Many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility. [Alma 62:41] Our trials can either end up hardening our heart or humbling us. How true the saying that suffering in life is inevitable, but misery is of our own making. In other words, because of the plan that we all agreed upon in the premortal life, we are going to suffer, whether we want to or not. However, if you can find how to suffer that tribulation in the Redeemer’s name, you will bear it well and perhaps even do it with an understanding, happy heart. Let’s look first at some catastrophic kinds of trials, and then later perhaps at some personal trials we all face. Catastrophic Suffering Some weeks ago a devastating tsunami took the lives of more than 160,000 of the Lord’s children. How does one understand an event such as that and even see the Lord’s hand in developing additional love and trust in Him as a result of that event? Many do not understand God and His purposes, as reflected in the following observations by current writers: 1. “In the aftermath of a cataclysm, with pictures of parents sobbing over dead infants . . . , faith-shaking questions arise: Where was God? Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents? What did these people do to deserve such suffering?” (William Safire, “Where Was God?” New York Times, 10 January 2005, A23). 2. Another one: “How
Robert J. Parsons|June 1, 1999 Good morning, brothers and sisters. In a recent priesthood quorum meeting in my home ward, the instructor began the lesson with a personal experience he had while serving as a bishop of a BYU ward. A young woman in his ward shared with him a concern that she was not achieving her academic goals because she had to get up so early each morning in order to work. Her parents had both been killed by a drunken driver who had ignored a stop sign. Like many of you students here at BYU, this young woman was working, going to classes, and developing her personal financial independence. The discussion in our high priests group that followed this introductory story focused on why we have challenges in our lives. Are these challenges because of transgression? Are they simply random activities that occur in everyone’s life? Are challenges and their consequences created by the choices that we make each day? Elder Bruce R. McConkie said the following about life’s challenges: Though Satan may rejoice in the afflictions—whether physical, mental, or spiritual—which befall mortal men, it is not to be assumed that he has power to impose them, except in isolated instances where people have complied with laws which permit such an imposition; otherwise, Satan would shackle all men with ills so drastic as to destroy them. [Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 1:493] In his great discourse in about 124 B.C., King Benjamin instructed us to put off the natural man and [become] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and [become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father. [Mosiah 3:19] Father Lehi some 400 years earlier taught Jacob, his first-born son in the wilderness: For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness, nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one. [2 Nephi 2:11] Bruce and Marie Hafen have suggested the following: Opposition is a central part of mortal life. It may be the primary difference between what life would have been in the Garden and what it is in mortality. It is the difference between being green, untested, and inexperienced and becoming ripe, seasoned, tested, and having a mature understanding. How different from innocence, for if there is only innocence, there is little meaning. . . . Mortality presents us with a “compound in one,” a deliberate mixing of righteousness and temptation, holiness and misery, without which there could be “no purpose in the end of [life’s] creation.” (2 Ne. 2:11–12.) [Bruce C. and Marie Ha
Dallin H. Oaks|Aug. 5, 1990 Sister Oaks and I are glad to be with you this evening. It is always a thrill to return to BYU, where we have some of our happiest memories. For example, half of our six children were born while we were here at BYU. The first two were born while we were students here, and the last was born while I was serving as president. That is what you call coming full circle. Repent! I begin by describing an event that happened here on campus. About fifteen years ago, a group of newspaper editors from various western states came to Salt Lake City to learn more about the Church. They visited with Church authorities, went to Temple Square, saw the welfare program in action, and then came to BYU. At dinner in the Wilkinson Center, I sat with an editor from California. He was immensely impressed with what he had seen. “You Mormons really know how to do it,” he said. Then he praised the various things he had seen. I enjoyed his positive reactions to everything. Later, he asked the location of the nearest rest room and excused himself. When he returned he had a triumphant smile on his face. “Well, I found out that you Mormons are just like everyone else,” he said. In response to my question, he explained. “When I go into a rest room in another public place, I find there are things written on the wall. When I went to the rest room here in the Wilkinson Center, I found it was just like other rest rooms. There was something written on the wall.” Sorry that the man’s gleaming impressions had been tarnished, I began to apologize about how difficult it was to keep current on the maintenance in a public place. He smiled and raised his hand to stop me. “Oh, I’m just kidding,” he said. “It’s true there was something written in there, but I’ve never seen anything like that written on the wall in a public place. It was just one word: repent.” Whoever wrote that word on a rest room wall in the Wilkinson Center many years ago at least knew the word repent, which is more than can be said for many people in the world today. But I wonder how many of us understand the principle and purpose of repentance, including its relationship to sin and suffering. The Subject of Sin We are concerned that some young people who are anticipating serving a mission or being married in the temple have a very lax attitude toward sin. “I’ll just have a few free ones,” they say, “and then I’ll repent quickly, and go on my mission (or get married in the temple), and everything will be all right.” Young people are not the only ones with a lax attitude toward sin. We know of mature members of the Church who commit serious transgressions knowingly and deliberately, relying on their supposed ability later to repent speedily and be “as good as new.” Such persons want the present convenience or enjoyment of sin and the future effects of righteousness, in that
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