• I would like for us to go on a journey together. The journey I am going to ask you to take, however, won’t be a vacation. In fact, it will likely be a little painful. You see, for you to go on this journey, I need you to reflect upon a moment in your life when you were surviving a trial—a painful, discouraging trial wherein you experienced intense suffering. I need you to go back to how you felt in the midst of the darkness, the loneliness, and the anger, back to the moment when you felt you could no longer endure the heartache. It is this state of suffering that I would like to focus on today
  • Good morning. I am humbled to stand where prophets, apostles, General Authorities, university presidents, important scholars, and world leaders have stood. As a student at BYU thirty years ago, I attended the devotionals and forums quite faithfully. I loved taking a break once a week to listen to remarkable individuals share their insights on a myriad of topics. I enjoyed listening and learning without any worry that I might be tested on what I was hearing. It was education at its best. I am what I used to refer to as the dark horse in the devotional lineup. A dark horse is a completely unk
  • Welcome to fall semester. We hope you have all been able to settle into your new schedules. Fall semester can be a time of fresh starts. It can be a time of great expectations. It can also be a time when things are practically perfect. For example, it is probably safe to say that right now most of you have perfect grades in all of your classes! It can be a time when hopes run high and your roommate situation is quite fabulous. It is a time when all of our athletic teams are on course for ­tremendous seasons—yes, even perhaps national championships! And it is a time when you are able to meet ne
  • I am humbled and thankful to be among so many friends today and to see so many of my current and former students. Thank you for this opportunity, President Worthen. I grew up on a large cattle ranch, first near Eureka, Nevada, and later in Kanosh, Utah. I would start the days very early by catching and saddling my horse in the moonlit and frosty morning hours. As the first rays of sunshine would start coming over the mountains, the cowboys I was working with would scatter out and begin looking for cows and calves from among sagebrush flats and juniper-covered hillsides. The sight was surrea
  • As an adjunct professor who has taught at BYU for several years, I am in awe of this amazing institution that attracts the finest, most extraordinary faculty and students on the planet. I honor you and believe that King Benjamin could have easily been describing you when he said: And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual. [Mosiah 2:41] Yes, you are awesome, and this could be the most important assignment I have ever had as
  • When I was a young adult, about the age of many of you in this room, I had my life carefully planned out. I was going to become a registered nurse, meet the most handsome and charming man, get married in the temple, and have four children and a wonderful life (whatever that meant). I was well on my way: I met and married a terrific man, I had two sons, and I was working as a nurse. My life was going according to my plan. July 11, 1981, was a classic Utah summer day with blue sky and sunshine. It was one of those days that starts out cool and crisp but in which the temperature rapidly climbs
  • Thank you for that introduction, President Samuelson. Fellow students, today I feel much like King Benjamin did when he spoke to his people: “For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you.”1 I have anticipated the anxiety of this moment for many months. Thinking that I would get a sympathetic reaction from my library colleagues, I told them about my invitation to give a devotional address. That news, however, was met with an almost universal reaction: laughter. That was not the sort of empathy I was hoping for. My exercise buddi
  • On November 10, 1882, a young woman named Sarah Jane Carter married Alma Porter, a widower of 10 years. Sarah Jane was almost 18 years of age, and Alma was almost 48. To Sarah Jane and Alma were born 10 children. Their last child and eighth daughter was my grandmother. My grandmother was just five months old when her father died, leaving Sarah Jane a widow at age 38. In addition to losing her husband, four of Sarah Jane’s daughters died at a young age. Sarah Jane worked hard to provide for her family. Her only source of income was from what they produced on a small farm. From the cow’s milk
  • Good morning, beloved students, faculty, friends, family, and my esteemed brother in the gospel for over 35 years, President Cecil O. Samuelson. I have always treasured our close and respectful relationship, and I say to you, President Samuelson, that Brigham Young could not have selected a better leader than you, who has reached great heights in medicine, in life, and, above all, in integrity. Thank you for such a generous introduction, and thank you to the beautiful choir from whom we have just heard. I am so privileged to be invited to this world-class university. My wife, Karen, and I than
  • Fellow graduates, these commencement exercises mark the summit of our educational experience at Brigham Young University. The journey thus far has not been an easy one. We have all encountered obstacles during our time here—some of which have seemed insurmountable. Our challenges have come in a variety of forms. Some of us have struggled with indecision regarding which major to choose. For others the challenge came each time we sat in the Testing Center wondering if we were the only ones noticing the rising temperature. Money has been scarce and sometimes even nonexistent. Our presence here
  • Whenever I visit my sister’s family in Salt Lake City, as I am about to leave, my six-year-old niece usually chirps up with “Wait, Carol! We haven’t written in my journal yet.” Writing in her journal consists of the two of us going out to my car, where she uses a small notebook I keep in the glove compartment to draw pictures of different fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty. She then spells out the names of the characters with my help. No matter what story she chooses, it inevitably consists of a princess and prince seeking to overcome difficult circumstances involving a wicked person and then
  • During the past year we have seen much economic turmoil—banks failing, businesses laying off employees, home mortgages being foreclosed, and retirement accounts shrinking. Thousands have lost their jobs, and many worry about paying for necessities such as food, clothing, and housing. In January of this year the unemployment rate in the United States hit a 16-year high at 7.6 percent, and it continues to rise. I am sure many of you students have asked yourselves, “After I graduate, will I be able to find employment?” In addition to economic troubles, across the globe terrorist threats contin
  • My beloved young friends, it is a thrill for Sister Holland and for me to be with you tonight for this worldwide satellite broadcast. It’s always a thrill to be in the Marriott Center. I wish it were possible for us to be in each of your individual locations, seeing you personally and being able to shake your hands. We haven’t figured out a way to do that yet, but we send our love and greeting to all of you wherever you are in the world. In spite of the vastness of our global audience, we hope all of you are individually able to feel the love we have for you tonight and that each of you can ga
  • Brothers and sisters, I’m grateful to be here. I’ve been rather sleepless while preparing my remarks. I’ve felt some concern. But standing here today, seeing you all before me, I feel blessed—blessed to speak from a lectern where saints and scholars and prophets have spoken, and more blessed to come to this campus each day to teach and be taught by wonderful students who are my brothers and sisters and to work with faculty and staff who are reaching for something here that is more than a job. Today I want to address my remarks to you who may be feeling tired and a little worn down, who may
  • I am grateful for the honor and the opportunity to speak with you today. It is an honor because you are precious children of our Heavenly Father. In the life before this one you were His pupils. I am honored by this invitation from the First Presidency to teach. It is an opportunity because you have chosen to listen, among the many things you could be doing, and so you must have at least a hope that I will say something useful to you. I pray that will be true. We are unique. No two of us are in exactly the same circumstances. We have not had identical experiences in the past, nor do we have
  • 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 appr
  • I have prayed earnestly concerning the topic I have been asked to address—that we pray not for light burdens but for strong backs. I have come to understand that to honestly pray for a strong back is a very courageous thing to do. The spiritual exercise required is not an easy course, but the promised blessings make it worthy of our total commitment—whatever the cost. I learned of the importance of a strong back when I was about ten years old. In the summertime after we had put in a full day’s work, my father would take me down to the Belly River near the edge of our small Canadian town,
  • Brothers and sisters, this is indeed an honor to be back at BYU. It is an honor to be seated next to your president. I have had the opportunity of working with him, not only as he served as Presiding Bishop but also as a member of the Quorums of the Seventy. You are greatly blessed to have President Merrill J. Bateman as the president of this university. I am honored today to have our family here. We are lacking two of our sons, but the rest of the family is here with us. I see in the audience a number of you who were missionaries in Brazil when we served together there. Could I see just how m
  • Let me tell you about some people I know. One is a woman who served a full-time mission when it was not fashionable to be a sister missionary. She received no financial support nor spiritual encouragement from her family. Upon returning, she worked her way through college and graduate school, marrying when most considered her rather old. After her children were born, her husband lost his job; he has yet to find permanent employment. However, by taking temporary jobs here and there, including those the family could do together, this woman and her husband have survived financially for several ye
  • My dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful for your presence here today, especially in view of the fact that you anticipated hearing from President Howard W. Hunter today, and any replacement for him is clearly inadequate. Thank you for accepting a substitute with such graciousness. I bring you his love. He hopes to speak to you on another occasion. On an earlier occasion when I spoke to a large audience here at BYU, I spoke on the subject “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall” (7 June 1992 fireside; see Ensign, October 1994, pp. 11–19, or BYU 1991–92 Devotional and Fireside Spe
  • Since I am a relative newcomer to BYU and somewhat unfamiliar with its traditions, when I initially received the invitation to give this devotional address, instinctively the thought went through my mind, “Wow, maybe they think that I haven’t been working hard enough and this is the punishment!” A few moments reflection, however, convinced me that this invitation was an honor, although I can’t help thinking that the punishment is likely to follow the honor if my talk is not satisfactory! In fact, if you will pardon a “pun,” on looking behind me, I feel very much like a man in the firing 
  • Janet: We welcome you back to a new semester and a new year. For us, as for many of you, last semester was a first time BYU experience. And we really loved it. Over the years, Rex and I have shared many things, but since his training is in law and mine in education, we have never shared a job. Now, for the first time, we are even sharing that, and it has been one of many unanticipated joys that we have experienced over the last six months. Rex: It reminds me of something I think Willie Mays said right after he started playing professional baseball: “I can’t believe they pay me
  • Everyone Struggles Do any of you ever get discouraged? Men, women, fathers, mothers, young and old—discouragement comes to all. Let me share with you a story about a discouraged young college man. This young man couldn’t get enthusiastic about anything. He didn’t seem to have any sense of responsibility. He lacked motivation. I suppose there was no mission call, no engagement, nothing exciting on the horizon. He had a mature friend who came to him and said, “I can help you. Let me accept full responsibility for you, for your worries.” He then told him, “I’m going to
  • My brothers and sisters, it is a humbling experience for me to stand before you in this capacity. To me this is a second language that I am speaking to you. I sincerely hope and pray that the Spirit of the Lord be with us tonight so that we can communicate. Tarry Ye Here As I listened to this beautiful song, I remembered the great pain and agony, the ordeal of this holy man, the Savior Jesus Christ. After the Last Supper he led eleven apostles to the foot of the Mount of Olives, and from the eleven Jesus took three apostles, Peter, James, and John, to the midst of the grove o
  • It is always a special thrill and blessing to come upon this campus. My message today is simple, but one which you may not wish to hear. I have chosen to speak concerning the blessings of adversity. The theme was best expressed by the Lord when he said, “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days” (D&C 24:8). During the past two years, and indeed for about five years of my life, I have lived in countries where most of the people are far below the poverty level of the United States. During this last period
  • Thank you, President Oaks, for your gracious introduction. I am very pleased to meet with you wonderful students of Brigham Young University today and to express a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful. As I have had the opportunity of meeting with a number of you over the past few weeks, I am impressed with your concern, even a grave concern, for those things that come into your lives over which you have no control. When tragedy, sorrow, setback, disappointment, humiliation, wealth, unusual success, acclaim, and recognition come into our lives, what shall we do then? How do we cope w