BYU English professor Matthew Wickman delivered a devotional address on thriving spiritually in times of trial by recognizing the Spirit.
Wickman, founding director of the BYU Humanities Center, addressed students remotely from the Marriott Center on Dec. 1.
He asked students to evaluate for themselves how they are doing spiritually. “My conviction is that if you have experiences with the Spirit, even ones that are only still and small, then God is choosing to abide with you. Therefore, despite any cares and questions you may have, you’re probably doing very well, indeed.”
He said some students doubt whether they are spiritually thriving in times of difficulty when they are weighed down by trials of illness, loneliness, discrimination or other hardships. He encouraged them to continue to seek the Spirit in these difficult moments of life.
“For any who shoulder such burdens, spiritual reassurance alone may not seem like much of a remedy. But if we continue to seek the Spirit’s presence even in difficult circumstances, and if we’re mindful of what we discern in that miraculous grain of sand, we may find that God and relief are closer than we think,” Wickman said.
He said being faced with challenges is a manifestation of the plan of salvation. “You’ve been shown that God is real, that your life has a purpose. That there’s a reason God reached out to you through His Spirit, and that Christ’s Atonement is making it possible for you to feel God’s presence a little more fully.”
Wickman reminded students of God’s constant presence in their lives. He said that though “we can’t always see heaven working on our behalf, any experience with the Spirit, no matter how small, is evidence that God is doing just that.”
From his own experiences and the experiences of those around him, Wickman learned challenges can often be overcome by recognizing and embracing gifts of the Spirit, as they reinforce a connection with God.
“I’ve seen before how drawing on these unique gifts can bring us closer to God, perhaps because they call on parts of ourselves that are closer to God already,” Wickman said.
He noted these spiritual gifts should be highly valued and recognized as ways to draw nearer to God. “Spiritual gifts are precious because they are traces in us of our divine natures, aspects of ourselves in which we more fully reflect our Heavenly Parents.”
As these spiritual gifts build a connection to God, Wickman explained how they have empowered him and others to be directed by the Spirit. He emphasized the importance of the presence of the Spirit in correlation with thriving spiritually.
“The Spirit deepens our experience and thus helps us build relationships, heighten our awareness of life’s richness and diversity, and discern more intensely the beauty of things to which we might otherwise be dulled,” he said.