Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve encouraged young adults to face their challenges with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement in a worldwide devotional broadcast Sunday.
Speaking from a stake center in Washington, D.C., Elder Cook assured the congregation that “we should not have fear, even in a dangerous and troubled world.”
Elder Cook referenced the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, acknowledging the many types of trials that can be encountered in life. He encouraged young adults to focus on positive events in a world that is filled with commotion.
“The scriptures assure us that we can have complete joy because of the Savior,” Elder Cook said.
He recounted the story of his son and daughter-in-law who lived in Manhattan during the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center and sought refuge in a local stake center. Elder Cook encouraged young adults who are experiencing difficulties to focus on happy times in their lives, such as opening a mission call or getting sealed in the temple.
“My purpose this evening is not to have you dwell on terrible events from the past,” Elder Cook said. “But I also want to help you contemplate the trials, tribulations and dangers that you either face or fear you will face in your individual lives.”
Elder Cook then proceeded to address three different types of events: those that involve physical dangers, those that involve special challenges — some of which are “unique to (our) day” — and those involving spiritual dangers and challenges.
Addressing physical dangers, Elder Cook mentioned how in the “premortal life,” we knew that there would be agency and conflict, including the violence so often featured in the media. He counseled young adults to be conscious of the choices they make and the consequences that all choices bring.
“We are free to choose to act, but not free to control the choices,” Elder Cook said. “Hence, our choices determine happiness or misery in this life and in the life to come.”
Elder Cook also assured viewers that “the Savior’s Atonement allows us to have peace and tranquility, even when there are physical dangers.”
In addressing challenges specific to our day, Elder Cook emphasized the importance of making and actively pursuing meaningful goals.
“I am particularly concerned about how many young adults fail to set righteous goals or have a plan to achieve them,” he said, “I am also concerned that many underestimate and devalue their own talents and capabilities. Resolving these two issues will bring much joy into your life.”
Elder Cook said having grit, hard work and determination is more important in reaching goals than having natural talent.
“I want to assure you that you can do hard things,” he said.
Elder Cook said social media and the internet can be great tools in achieving goals and furthering the work of the church, but warned against overusing them until they become distraction from what is really important.
“We hear a lot about being authentic in social media,” he said. “Being sincerely Christlike is an even more important goal than being authentic.”
When speaking about spiritual dangers and challenges, Elder Cook encouraged members of the church not to express an attitude of negotiation or justification, but rather one of repentance and humble supplication. He urged young adults to focus on making decisions that will lead to eternal life.
“One of the most vital responsibilities in this life is to make and keep sacred covenants with God,” Elder Cook said. “This requires that we examine unworthy desires and separate ourselves from them. We also examine inappropriate expectations that we consciously or unconsciously place upon deity.”
He warned against focusing on things that will distract from achieving eternal life and counseled the congregation to take advantage of repentance.
“The Savior, who paid a price for us that we cannot fully comprehend, did not achieve the Atonement so that we can concentrate on non-eternal, materialistic goals, or for that matter, frivolous, self-indulgent fun and games,” Elder Cook said.
He warned young adults not to use the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for everyone as a justification for unrighteous actions.
“It is not appropriate for us to negotiate our relationship with the Godhead,” Elder Cook said. “The real question is, ‘How can I be the righteous loving person that my Father and the Savior would want me to be?’”