“That They Might Have Joy” | David A. Bednar

“That They Might Have Joy” | David A. Bednar


My beloved brothers and sisters, there is
an understandably subdued spirit on the campus of Brigham Young University today. I have thought about you and the student involved
in the incident yesterday without ceasing since I learned of this episode. This morning I arose very, very early, and
I would like to share with you briefly just a few thoughts that may be of some assistance
to all of us. I invite you to consider and to connect four
things. First, consider the titles used to describe
the Lord Jesus Christ by Isaiah: “Wonderful, Counsellor [please note the word counsellor],
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Connect that title of Counsellor to this verse
from Alma: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good.” Connect those verses to these lyrics from
Sister Emma Lou Thayne: Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole? When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, Searching my soul? Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish, Where, in my need to know, where can I run? Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish? Who, who can understand? He, only One. He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend. Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching. Constant he is and kind,
Love without end. And he shall go forth, suffering pains and
afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled
which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may
loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities,
that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according
to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. With all the energy of my soul, I bear witness
that the Lord Jesus Christ lives. These are not words on a page in a book. These are literal, actual spiritual truths. And as His servant and in His name, I promise
you will receive the counseling you need from the Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Prince
of Peace. Susan and I are grateful to be here with you. We love you, and we love Brigham Young University. I desire and pray for the assistance of the
Holy Ghost for you and for me as we focus now together on things of eternal worth during
this devotional. An important time of learning for me started
on this campus in 1970. I attended San Leandro High School in the
East Bay Area of California from 1967 to 1970. It was a turbulent time with anti–Vietnam
War protests, political assassinations, and social upheaval. The Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco
and Telegraph Avenue near the campus of the University of California at Berkeley were
two major epicenters of dramatic drug, music, sexual, and cultural revolutions. Only a few Latter-day Saints attended my high
school, and my ward had a very small group of youth. I moved into Helaman Halls in August 1970
and quickly became acquainted with many diverse and faithful young men and young women. That fall semester was a life-­changing time
for me because of spiritually powerful sacrament meetings and service in my student ward, stimulating
academic classes and supportive teachers, and a strong brotherhood that developed with
my dorm friends as we played intramural sports, talked late into the night, and perpetrated
typical but harmless freshman pranks and practical jokes. My experience at BYU was “spiritually strength­ening,”
“intellectually enlarging,” and a preparation for “lifelong learning and service.” And most important of all, I met Susan Robinson
on this campus after I returned home from my mission in 1973. She has been the love of my life for almost
forty-four years. As I started to think about and prepare for
this opportunity to speak with you, I reflected on the devotional experiences I had as a BYU
student. I am so old that I remember attending devotionals
as a freshman in the Smith Fieldhouse before the Marriott Center was constructed. And I have wonderful memories of being in
the Marriott Center as a student listening to and learning from Presidents Harold B.
Lee and Spencer W. Kimball; Elders Ezra Taft Benson, Boyd K. Packer, Thomas S. Monson,
Bruce R. McConkie, and Neal A. Maxwell; and many other inspired and inspiring leaders. Their teachings and testimonies have influenced
every aspect of my life, and the Smith Fieldhouse and the Marriott Center became two of my most
important classrooms while I was attending BYU. The next step in my preparation to speak with
you this morning was to study the devotional and commencement messages presented on this
campus in 2018 by four of my Brethren from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In March, Elder Ronald A. Rasband emphasized
the importance of personal integrity. Of particular importance was his instructive
invitation to each of us to assess how we understand and exercise the principle of integrity
in our individual lives. Elder Rasband asked: When you leave this sacred school setting,
what will you be known for? The time to decide your epitaph is not at
the end of your career but at the beginning. Right now. Will you be moral, ethical, and honest? Elder Neil L. Andersen in April described
and discussed “a holier approach to ministering.” He highlighted: There is a unique and supernal gift of ministering
that can come from someone who loves God with all his or her heart; who is settled, grounded,
steadfast, and immovable in his or her faith in Jesus Christ and in the restored gospel;
and who keeps the commandments with exactness. Elder Andersen also identified many potential
situations that would require courageous ministering in a holier way. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke to the graduating
students and their families at the April commencement ceremony. As both a member of the Twelve and a past
president of BYU, he reminded the graduates of two vital truths. First, each of us must bridle our personal
ambition and focus our talents and energy on accomplishing God’s will. As only Elder Holland could declare: Go out there and light a candle. Be a ray of light. Be your best self and let your character shine. Cherish the gospel of Jesus Christ and live
it. The world needs you, and surely your Father
in Heaven needs you if His blessed purposes for His children are to prevail. You have entered to learn. Now go forth to serve and strengthen. If correcting all the world’s ills seems
a daunting task, so be it. Go out there and be undaunted. If we cannot look to you to change the world,
tell me to whom we should look. Second, Elder Holland admonished us to be
“secure in the promise of God’s unfailing love for [us] and the redeeming blessings
that flow forever from the gospel of Jesus Christ.” And in October, Elder Gerrit W. Gong encouraged
us to look back from the future as “a remembrance of things to come.” He asked us to go with him to the year 2040
and look back with gratitude on four things we had learned as ­students in 2018: May we learn how to learn by the Spirit; may
we choose and decide in time how best to prepare for eternity; may we offer global experience
and training to contribute to every nation, kindred, and tongue; and may we seek and rejoice
in spiritual strengthening. Elder Gong counseled us to prepare now for
a future that will be here tomorrow. What an extraordinary spiritual curriculum
has been presented in 2018 by these four servants of the Lord. Many other inspired devotional speakers also
have shared experiences and insights that strengthen faith in our Heavenly Father and
His eternal plan and in Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement. Devotionals constitute an important class
at BYU that no one should miss. I pray that you are taking full advantage
of the remarkable opportunities you have as a student or employee at BYU to learn from
the inspired leaders of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. You likely will never again in your lives
enjoy the frequency of personal teachings from and the close proximity to the men and
women the Lord has called to direct the affairs of His Church. Please do not become casual or apathetic about
or ungrateful for the unique blessings available to you on this campus. I know well Elders Holland, Andersen, Rasband,
and Gong. I was with them ninety minutes ago in a meeting
of the Quorum of the Twelve. On an almost daily basis, I am blessed to
pray with them, study with them, counsel with them, and learn from them. I witness that they are prophets, seers, and
revelators. I personally relish every chance I have to
hear my Brethren teach the doctrine of Christ and feel the power of their apostolic testimonies
of our living Savior. You have been and will continue to be blessed
throughout your entire life by the teachings of the Lord’s servants. Our Redeemer has declared: I recently was in a spiritually powerful testimony
meeting and listened intently as a devoted sister declared, “I have great joy because
of the Father’s plan of salvation.” Immediately obvious to me was the fact that
this woman was not simply speaking familiar words. The light that shone in her eyes, the spiritually
dignified tone of her voice, her bright and peaceful countenance—everything about her
affirmed the truthfulness of what she was saying. She was filled with joy. She radiated joy. Indeed, she was becoming more like the Savior
and receiving His image in her countenance, a part of which was becoming joyful. Her expression of faith caused me to remember
the lyrics of several familiar hymns: And in this Christmas season, we will sing: and Since becoming president of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson frequently has extended
an invitation to the people of the world that includes the promise of joy: Our message to the world is simple and sincere:
we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior,
receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal
life. What exactly is this joy about which we sing
and teach and which we have the obligation to offer to all humankind? And how is it obtained? Let us now consider together answers to these
two important questions. A common dictionary definition of joy is “a
feeling of great pleasure [or] happiness.” In comparison, the Guide to the Scriptures
describes joy as “a condition of great happiness [that results] from righteous living.” Interestingly, our gospel perspective helps
us to understand that joy is more than a fleeting feeling or emotion; rather, it is a spiritual
gift and a state of being and becoming. For this reason I described the sister who
bore her testimony as filled with and radiating joy. As a wise and loving father, Lehi taught his
son Jacob that the very purpose of mortal life is for all people to have joy: Adam and Eve summarized the vital lessons
they learned from the Eternal Father and from their own experience. Adam declared: And Eve said: The Father’s plan of happiness enables His
children to obtain a physical body and gain mortal experience, to choose righteousness
in the presence of evil and temptation, and to assist Heavenly Father with His great plan
through honorable marriage and parenthood. Ultimately, at the time of our resurrection I believe the contrast between righteous joy
and worldly fun is instructive and helps us better understand the nature of true joy. Joy comes from exercising faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ, worthily receiving and faithfully honoring sacred ordinances and covenants,
and striving to become deeply converted to the Savior and His purposes. Fun is the result of “amusement,” “playful
[and] often boisterous action or speech,” or pleasurable diversion. A day on the rides at Disneyland is fun. Worthily preparing for and participating in
the ordinance of the sacrament is joyful. Joy primarily is spiritual; fun primarily
is temporal. Joy primarily is enduring; fun primarily is
temporary. Joy primarily is deep and rich; fun primarily
is shallow. Joy primarily is whole and complete; fun primarily
is partial. Joy primarily pertains to mortality and eternity;
fun pertains only to mortality. How important it is for us to never confuse
or trade the enduring, deep joy of devoted discipleship for temporary and shallow fun. The Redeemer is the ultimate and only source
of enduring and eternal joy. The prophet Jacob testified: Because of Heavenly Father’s plan and the
Savior’s Atonement, sincere repentance invites us to turn to and depend upon Jesus Christ,
the true source of joy. Please consider carefully the response of
King Benjamin’s people to his teachings about the Savior’s Atonement: Because of Heavenly Father’s plan and the
Savior’s Atonement, obedience invites us to follow Jesus Christ, the true source of
joy. The Savior declared to His disciples: Because of Heavenly Father’s plan and the
Savior’s Atonement, service invites us to emulate the character of Jesus Christ, the
true source of joy. I recently read a statement by President Kevin
J Worthen about deep joy. He said, Recall the rejoicing of Ammon as he recounted his missionary work among the Lamanites: Because of Heavenly Father’s plan and the
Savior’s Atonement, challenges and afflictions invite us to lift up our eyes to Jesus Christ,
the true source of joy. The precious perspective provided by the restored
gospel allows us to learn lessons that prepare us for eternity through the adversities of
mortality. Our suffering and misfortunes can be Thus joy endures in times and through experiences
that are both good and bad because of our knowledge of the Father’s plan and of the
Savior’s Atonement. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance,
obedience, service, and a gospel perspective about the trials we encounter in mortality
all invite us to come unto the source of enduring joy—Jesus Christ. Many additional gospel truths could be discussed,
but we do not have time today. I invite you to identify, study, and prayerfully
ponder additional principles that enable us to receive this important spiritual gift of
joy. Enduring joy is not a blessing reserved for
a select few. Rather, every member of the Lord’s restored
Church who is striving to remember and honor sacred covenants and keep the commandments
can receive this gift, according to God’s will and timing. In this Christmas season, may each of us strive
to appreciate more fully the supernal gift of joy. We typically do not sing a closing hymn in
a devotional, but today we will. I invite you to sing “Joy to the World”
with both your voice and your heart. As we do so, may you begin to see with new
eyes and hear with new ears as “Saints and angels sing,” as we “repeat the sounding
joy,” and as we “ever worship God.” I declare my sure witness of the living reality
and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. I do so joyfully and in the sacred name of
Jesus Christ, amen.

8 Replies to ““That They Might Have Joy” | David A. Bednar”

  1. Yin-Yang Is The Universe…It's Two Opposing Forces Coming into One Body to Destroy All Darkness or Evil!!
    For Most Things You Can't Trust Your Youthful Instincts as Much as Age Learned Wisdom – For the Prior Will Lead You into
    a Rebellious Unhappy State, While God will Lead/Refine You To Shine Brightly as a Diamond in the Rough…Forever Brilliant!!:)

  2. This extraordinary, beautiful soul/ apostle, is truly plugged into the Lord and graciously shares, guides and leads so powerfully yet with great compassion and laser clarity. What a great gift to this aching and chaotic world. 🙏🏻📚Thank you kind sir

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