Before introducing Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a Dec. 4 devotional, BYU President Kevin J Worthen addressed a a student tragedy in the Tanner Building on Dec. 3.
He expressed his personal sympathy to all those impacted by the incident and said “such events try our hearts and stretch our souls, and they should also cause us to be more aware of and more caring for the well-being of every individual in our community.”
Elder Bednar added to President Worthen’s remarks and said the spirit on campus was “understandably subdued.”
“I’ve thought about you and the student involved in the incident yesterday without ceasing since I’ve learned of this episode,” he said.
Elder Bednar also invited listeners to consider four titles for Jesus Christ: “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Emphasizing the Lord’s title of “Counselor,” Elder Bednar read verses of scripture on counseling with the Lord and verses from the hymn “Where Can I Turn for Peace?”
“With all the energy of my soul, I bear witness that the Lord Jesus Christ lives,” Elder Bednar said. “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 receiving the counseling you need from the Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.”
Elder Bednar transitioned into his devotional address, focused on joy, by sharing experiences he had at BYU as a freshman living in Helaman Halls in August of 1970.
“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,” Elder Bednar said.
He said his experiences at BYU were “spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging and a preparation for life-long learning and service,” especially because he met his wife, Susan Robinson, on campus who has become the love of his life for nearly 44 years.
He said he remembered attending devotionals as a freshman in the Smith Fieldhouse before the Marriott Center was constructed and how the testimonies and lessons he learned during those devotionals continue to influence his life today.
Elder Bednar highlighted some of the principles taught by four of his brethren from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, including Elders Ronald A. Rasband, Neil L. Anderson, Jeffrey R. Holland and Gerrit W. Gong during their devotional and commencement addresses this year.
“Please do not become casual or apathetic about or ungrateful for the unique blessings available to you on this campus,” Elder Bednar said. “I personally relish every chance I have to hear my dear brethren teach the doctrine of Christ and to feel the power of their apostolic testimonies of our living Savior.”
He encouraged students to take advantage of the devotionals given weekly and promised listeners they will be blessed to learn by the teachings of the Lord’s servants.
Elder Bednar also recounted an experience he recently had as he attended a testimony meeting and witnessed a woman who was sharing her testimony. As the woman bore her testimony about the great joy she felt because of the Father’s plan of salvation, he said she was filled with and radiated joy.
“She was becoming more like the Savior and receiving His image in her countenance, a part of which was becoming joyful,” Elder Bednar said.
Elder Bednar described joy as a condition of great happiness, which results from righteous living. He said joy is more than a fleeting emotion but rather a spiritual gift and state of being and becoming.
Elder Bednar gave examples illustrating the difference between righteous joy and worldly fun. While joy comes from exercising faith in Jesus Christ and faithfully honoring sacred ordinances and covenants, fun comes from the result of “playful and often boisterous action or speech,” according to Elder Bednar. He said a ride at Disneyland is fun, but preparing for and taking the sacrament worthily is joy.
Sincere repentance and service help people depend on Jesus Christ and emulate His character, according to Elder Bednar, and challenges “lift up our eyes to Jesus Christ, the true source of joy.”
“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,” Elder Bednar said. “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.”
He concluded his address by inviting students to identify, study and apply additional principles to receive the spiritual gift of joy.
Elder Bednar closed his remarks by requesting a closing hymn, something uncommon to BYU devotionals, “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts.
Michelle D. Craig, first counselor of the Young Women General Presidency, will address BYU at the next devotional on Dec. 11 at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.