General Authority Seventy Elder Jack N. Gerard delivered a devotional address to the BYU community on Tuesday, March 17. He was joined in the Marriott Center only by his family, Vice President Matthew Richardson, pianist Dory Haas and vocalist Korianne Johnson.
The broadcast was available to watch live through BYUtv because current health regulations forbid social gatherings of more than 50 people.
“While we are broadcasting from the Marriott Center, it feels a little lonely without each of you in attendance,” Elder Gerard said. “But I am also glad to know you are following prophetic direction and join President Nelson in inviting your prayers for those who are suffering as we protect against the spread of COVID-19.”
Elder Gerard began his address recounting decisions he made when he was in college, including getting married, having children, working full-time and participating in church service. He said he and his wife received anonymous criticism attacking their priorities and approach to life.
“We were not certain that our efforts would pay off. We wondered aloud if it was all worth it,” Elder Gerard said. “Now that the experience is over, we reflect on those days fondly and can see the hand of the Lord guiding us every step of the way.”
Elder Gerard connected his experience with that of Book of Mormon prophet Ammon, whose missionary service with Alma and the sons of Mosiah, recorded in Alma 26, brought both physical and mental challenges.
“On occasion, they were depressed,” Elder Gerard said. “Like Ammon, each of us may find it difficult to suppose exactly what great blessings the Lord has in store for us.”
He then quoted Elder Robert D. Hales who once described being in one’s 20s as “the decade of decision.” Elder Gerard invited listeners to ensure that their decision-making process involves exercising faith by seeking to know the Lord’s will and trusting Him by heeding His counsel and keeping the commandments. He said this is especially important to do when one cannot see clearly what lies ahead.
Elder Gerard listed several examples of individuals in the scriptures who lived their lives by faith in this way, including Adam, Joseph Smith, Nephi and Sariah.
“She (Sariah) was faithful and heeded the Lords commandments to leave her comfortable life and home in Jerusalem and head out into the wilderness to a place she had never seen, on a path she had never traveled, with only the confirmation of the Spirit that somewhere out there, the Lord would guide them to the promised land and promised life that would be better than anything she could imagine,” Elder Gerard said. “Sariah is but one example of many strong women in ancient times and now who clearly must have felt and understood the promise revealed to us in our day that ‘I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say.’”
Elder Gerard said the world will test individuals’ resolve to heed the Lord’s counsel and live the commandments. He warned that doubt and despair can lead to self-pity and feeling abandoned.
“Just like those who have gone before, each of us will have moments when life’s pressure will force us to turn for help,” Elder Gerard said. “One of the great tests in life is how we respond in those moments.”
In his concluding remarks, Elder Gerard referred to the hashtag #HearHim — a current Church initiative to learn and share that Jesus Christ is the center of Church members’ beliefs — to encourage listeners to approach challenges with faith instead of fear.
“In this commemoration year, let us follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s example and turn to the Lord, knowing with confidence that we can hear Him,” he said.