Elder Holland encourages students to let hardships make them more faithful, humble

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaks at a BYU devotional on Jan. 18.He asked BYU students to more fully focus on keeping God’s commandments and he encouraged students to remain faithful. (Decker Westenburg)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve asked BYU students to let life’s hardships mold them into a more humble and childlike people in a campus-wide devotional this morning.

Elder Holland has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1994. His devotional focused on how the purpose of mortal life is “to become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,” as said in King Benjamin’s farewell address in the Book of Mormon.

Elder Holland said students’ college years may be more challenging than they think they can bear and he encouraged listeners to strengthen their faith for hard times ahead.

“God does not now, nor will He ever do to you a destructive, malicious, unfair thing,” Elder Holland said. “God is perfectly and thoroughly, always and forever, good and everything He does is for our good.”

Elder Holland reminded listeners of a story about his friends Troy and Deedra Russell he shared in General Conference in October 2016. Russell was backing his truck out of his driveway in Henderson, Nevada, when he accidentally ran over his 9-year-old son. He updated the Russells’ story, saying Deedra was in a devastating car wreck in September 2021 and has been in the St. George Regional Medical Center fighting for her life since then, for 132 days. 

Elder Holland said the drunk driver who hit Deedra was in the audience at the Marriott Center today. He compared what the driver has done to repay his debts, including monetary donations and an eight-page hand-written letter, to the Russells’ process of healing from the accidental death of their son in 2016. 

“Even when we have done what we can, it won’t amount to much, so we will have to ask God to carry all the parts we can’t repair or repay,” Elder Holland said. “There is not one of us anywhere on this campus who has not needed forgiveness for some mistake made.”

He asked BYU students to more fully focus on keeping God’s commandments as evidence of their love. He also encouraged them to face trials and refinement with courage. They cannot just focus on long-term faith in Christ but must find day-to-day ways to keep trusting, he said.

(Highlight video created by Kelsey Nield)

“When you stumble in the race of life, don’t crawl away from the very Physician who is unfailingly there to treat your injuries, lift you to your feet, and help you finish the course,” he said of Jesus Christ. “We don’t know why all of the things that happen to us in life happen, why sometimes we are spared a tragedy and sometimes we are not. But that is where faith must truly mean something, or it is not faith at all.”

Commending the Russells for their forgiveness and faith, Elder Holland shared positive outcomes of their car accident, including neighbors serving their family, the drunk driver reading the Book of Mormon and a friend coming back to church.

“And so, miracles flow even from the mangled wreckage of a charcoal-gray Honda and a white Silverado pickup — all in response to childlike submission and meekness when dealing with what the Father allows,” Elder Holland said.

In a pre-recorded video broadcast to the audiences at the Marriott Center, the Russells shared testimonies of how their trials helped them feel more of God’s love.

“We wish trials weren’t a part of our lives, but one thing I’ve learned these past few months, which has been very hard for me, is that we have a very loving Heavenly Father,” Deedra Russell said. “The reason he lets us go through these trials is to learn things about ourselves.”

Troy Russell added, “What’s so beautiful about our struggles and trials are that they allow us to use our agency to decide whether to forgive and to show kindness.”

Elder Holland blessed listeners to receive their righteous desires as they come closer to God and are refined into childlike, humble followers of Christ.

His wife, Sister Patricia T. Holland, also shared a brief testimony that God is with students during their trials. 

“I have lived too long and seen too much and know too much to ever doubt the truth of those things prophets and apostles reveal,” Sister Holland said. In reference to Elder Holland’s devotional address, she added, “I pray that my testimony and his message today will comfort you and strengthen you in good times and bad.”

Sister Patricia T. Holland shared a brief testimony during Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s BYU devotional. She promised that God will be with students during their trials. (Decker Westenburg)
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