With nearly all the seats in the Cannon Activities Center filled with BYU–Hawaii students, staff and faculty and members of the community, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at the Oct. 22 devotional about trusting in the gospel's light to make it through life's everyday challenges.
Elder Holland, who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was on campus that day with his wife.
During the devotional, Elder Holland quoted Brigham Young who when talking about the daunting task of building the Salt Lake Temple, said, “I have never cared but for one thing, and that is, simply to know that I am now right before my Father in Heaven.”
Advice from the Hollands and Tanners
In an interview after the devotional with the Hollands and BYUH President John Tanner and his wife, Susan Tanner, the couples talked about taking courage through life’s storms and enduring hard things step by step and day by day.
Focusing on how to know if someone is doing what God wants them to do, Elder Holland said, “It’s the conviction, the knowledge, the certainty that gets us through difficult times. Anybody can sail a ship in calm weather. It’s when the storms come that you’ve got to hang on to that tiller.”
He said, “Life is not entirely a pleasant, placid cruise. We’re going to have personal situations, family situations, financial issues, all kinds of things that will come along and be a fulfillment of Lehi’s promise that there will be opposition in all things.
“That’s when you’ve got to have conviction. That’s when you’ve got to say, ‘I need to remember that I’m in school for a reason and I need this degree. The Lord wants me to have it, and you don’t bail. You don’t stop the first time there’s a difficulty.
“I think without the knowledge, without that conviction, it’s way too easy to give up. You go on the path of least resistance. You wander into any port in a storm. That isn’t good enough, not in the gospel, not for a child of God. So, you grit your teeth, you bear down, and now say, ‘I’ve got this conviction in my heart of what God wants me to do and I’m going to do it.’ That’s been the difference between good and great lives in the Church.”
Sister Patricia Holland agreed with what her husband said, adding, “It makes life so much easier if you do it one day at a time. As you heard [President Tanner] say, ‘If I’m right for the Lord this day, I don’t care about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen in the future. I just know I’m doing what he wants me to do today, and I promise you that you will do what he wants you to do in the future.’”
Elder Holland said, “Everybody wants to see the end from the beginning. We’re not allowed that. [If we are] then it will be very rare. [This] is really only a prophet’s role. The rest of us, we live life a day at a time, and that’s manageable. Everybody can make it for a day.”
He gave this additional advice about knowing the Lord’s will: “Keep your conviction and go straight ahead. Remember that a lot of people have done this before you. Sometimes we think we are the only ones who have had problems, who have had trouble, who thought they’re not going to make it. Gosh, everybody feels that way. A lot of other people have struggled the same way, have gotten their degrees, and have been successful.”
Elder Holland said when he speaks to missionaries, he encourages those who are struggling to look back at the last 180 years of missionary work. “Nobody needs to give up [or] go home. In this case, it’s sort of a collective strength that people before you and people after you are going to be able to do it. You can do it too.”
President Tanner said he wanted to echo what Elder Holland spoke about. “One image I really like is that the Lord will be a light or a lamp unto [our] feet. What we often want is a flashlight that lights a long line in the distance to know the beginning to the end.
“The Lord gives us just enough light to know the next step.” He talked about how lighting from lamps in Christ’s time period was different. “These lamps would only illuminate about an arm’s length in front of you.”
Even with tribulations, President Tanner said those in attendance at the devotional “received an apostolic promise that it will work out. If you do the right thing and take that step into the little bit of light you have for the next step and the next, [then] the Lord will bless you.” Elder Holland said President Tanner’s comment was a “true principle.”
Elder Holland said at the devotional, “If you will persevere throughout your life as you have begun in your degree programs here and if you will be true to what Latter-day Saint temples and universities stand for — what Zion stands for — I promise you in the name of the Lord that your future will unfold as He intended it before the foundation of the world.”
Sister Susan Tanner said she liked when Sister Holland shared Brigham Young’s quote to “just take it a day at a time.” Sister Tanner said have “not only the faith to get you through the day and the conviction that I can do it this day, but also look to the Lord in praise and gratitude each day. I think if we are struggling in school, then I think if we count our blessings and can see his hand in our lives, it helps us that day to get through it, and then we can do it a day at a time.”
Students’ thoughts on devotional
Two BYUH students shared what they thought about Elder Holland’s devotional. Milan Perez, a junior from Utah majoring in exercise and sports science, said, “I really liked how he went into the history of the university and how it connected to Joseph Smith’s dream.” That dream included a city of Zion that has both a temple and university – a house of faith and a house of learning.
“I never thought of the connection to Joseph Smith with this school. I liked the inspiration Joseph Smith had of a temple and place of learning together. It just shows that Heavenly Father is concerned not only for our spiritual wellbeing, but also our temporal wellbeing.
“I liked the part of where he said, ‘We had a one out of four chance to be in a place like this’ because it gives us the opportunity to develop our education and spirituality at the same time. You don’t get the chance to do that at many colleges. It is more integrated within our lifestyle and can help shape our future.”
Perez said she liked how students from around the world arrived and shared the mutual feeling of respect when Elder Holland walked in. She said when Elder and Sister Holland arrived, the entire audience simultaneously rose and stood silent in respect for the apostle.
Elder Holland reminded BYUH students of the importance of a church education in a university and how it brought people from around the world to learn in one of God’s universities.
Melenaite Samani, a freshman from Tonga majoring in accounting, said, “I think his message is inspiring because I think coming here most of us have forgotten how amazing this institution is.”
She said, “We are not the same as any other university in the world because we strive to help individuals grow in regards to their secular and spiritual learning. It is just a great reminder for us to better appreciate this school and the fact we have the temple standing right next to it.”
Samani said she took two main ideas from the devotional. “We should only care about being right before God, to forget about trying to look cool in front of everybody else. Second, stand by the standards of the university and of the Church. Your future will be set [and bright.]”