Multicultural student services advisor Estela Marquez spoke to BYU students about trusting the Lord during adversity at Tuesday’s devotional.
“Some of you may be experiencing challenges right now as you learn how to live with the realities of our new normal,” Marquez said. “I want you to know that you are not alone in your journey. God has a plan for each one of you. He knows you and knows what you need. His arms are ready to encircle you and carry you during your difficult times.”
Despite the challenges that Marquez faced in her life and the challenges she sees in the lives of students, she said she knows her “journey is a journey of hope” and encourages students to remember the hope the gospel brings.
“This life is full of challenges but there is one thing I know. The Lord allowed me to have those experiences for a reason, and now it is my honor and responsibility to share them with you, the young dreamers of today,” Marquez said. “It is possible to make your journey a journey of hope and a journey of success.”
Marquez grew up in an impoverished area of Guatemala, but she maintained a light of hope for her future. She expressed her gratitude for the strength God gave her family throughout her childhood. She reminded students “that keeping the divine perspective in the middle of trials is not always easy.”
“The Lord lifted our spirits as we tried to live as His disciples in the middle of our circumstances,” she said. “He filled our lives with hope and with precious moments of joy so that we could keep moving forward with faith.”
After receiving her vocational certificate to teach elementary school, challenges in Guatemala arose when the earthquake of 1976 hit. This shook the stability of the government and oppression became prevalent, leading Marquez, her husband and daughter to become refugees in Mexico. At this time in her life, she said “having faith in God’s plan for us was crucial as we tried to see what His will was for us.”
With the support of her husband and family, she was determined to finish her education. When she finished her bachelor’s degree in social work, she eventually found herself completing a master’s program in social work.
From the trials in her life and the loss of her own daughter by suicide, Marquez expressed a sure knowledge of hope that comes from the gospel. She reached out to students who feel alone and reminded them of the great love God has for them and the great and perfect redeemer, Jesus Christ, who knows each individual perfectly.
“If any of you today are feeling lonely, fearful or hopeless, I invite you to seek help and never take a catastrophic solution to a temporal challenge,” she said. She implored that students know of the plan God has for everyone and the place every person has here.
“Sometimes it feels like the difficulties we experience in life pile up on us one after another,” she said. “It comforts me to know that God is merciful and He does not let us have more than what we can bear.”