Elder Gary B. Sabin of the Seventy encouraged students on their academic journeys and invited them to view their entire lives as preparation to graduate from life with honor in his devotional address on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Elder Sabin began his address by comparing the excitement of experiencing life on earth to the anticipation students may have felt before arriving at BYU.
Acknowledging the rigorous nature of students’ academics, Elder Sabin explained that “there is little growth in the comfort zone” and encouraged students to press forward despite their academic challenges.
“In reality, we often learn more from our failures than successes, so don’t get discouraged by the struggle, as strength and struggle travel together,” Sabin said.
As students engage in the struggle of obtaining an education, Elder Sabin taught they are actually preparing for two graduation days: (1) the day they will receive a degree in their chosen major in preparation for their life’s work and (2) the day they will graduate from mortality.
“It would be my hope that each of you would view your entire life as a marvelous university and mission in preparation for your second and most important graduation, that of graduating with honor from life,” he said.
Mastering life does not require excelling in calculus, chemistry or art, Elder Sabin taught. Rather, it involves following the Savior’s teachings and invitation to make and keep sacred covenants with Him.
“The Savior taught, ‘If ye love me keep my commandments,’” Elder Sabin said. “Therefore, the revealed formula for a successful life and an honorable graduation from life is to follow the Savior.”
According to Elder Sabin, this means choosing to obey Christ, trusting that everything will eventually work together for our “best good” and building a sure foundation upon the rock of Christ.
Elder Sabin reminded listeners as they exercise faith and trust God, they are never alone in the “storms or battles of life.”
“If we are humble and faithful, the Lord has assured, ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up,’” Elder Sabin said.
To illustrate this promise, Elder Sabin recounted the story Elder Kent Richards shared in his 2011 General Conference address.
In this story, Elder Richards’ 13-year-old daughter Sherrie described the visits of her deceased family members to her father after undergoing a 14-hour operation for a tumor on her spinal cord. She also told her father that all of the children in the intensive care unit had angels helping them.
Likewise, there are many heavenly hosts interested in each individual’s welfare, Elder Sabin said.
“You each have a big cheering section pulling for you which is comforting to know because, even when we are built upon the rock of Christ, there will be times when the rains of life still fall, and the floods still come,” he said.
Elder Sabin continued his address by inviting listeners to keep an eternal perspective. He said by striving to be faithful and choosing to learn from life’s experiences instead of questioning life’s challenges, life can become an amazing adventure.
He then encouraged listeners to not fall into the trap of postponing their happiness until some future event.
“Doing so can rob you of the joys of today,” Elder Sabin said. “You may think you’ll be happier once you graduate, are married, get a job, have children, buy a house or achieve any number of other milestones; but in reality, happiness in life is a journey, not a moving target.”
Elder Sabin counseled listeners to find joy now by cultivating an attitude of gratitude and choosing to appreciate God’s guidance and the blessings of the restored gospel by paying their tithing, living the word of wisdom, keeping the law of chastity and properly valuing their baptismal and temple covenants.
According to Elder Sabin, being immersed in this world can cause panic, distort one’s view of God’s plan and cause them to fall away from God. However, everyone has the power to change.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of hope and fresh starts,” Elder Sabin said. “In reality, everyone gets a fresh start every day. Repentance fills our lives with peace, joy and light as we see each day as a new opportunity to learn from the past and try a little harder.”
As students go out into the world with a degree in hand and a fresh start, Elder Sabin expressed hope that students will “bring light to a darkening world” and become the heroes the world desperately needs.
“A true hero is one whose own hero is the Savior and who stands for right even when standing alone,” Elder Sabin said. “These heroes are grateful, humble, pure, courageous and helpful as they maintain an eternal perspective.”
Concluding his remarks, Elder Sabin bore testimony of the Savior and His example of “love and courage,” and testified that following Him brings “peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”