Book of Mormon Symposium: 'There is no place for despair'

The Three Ds of the Nineties - Despair, Doom and Discouragement - "are not an acceptable view of life for a Latter-day Saint," said President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve.

"However high on the charts they are on the hit parade of contemporary news, we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us," said President Hunter. He spoke at a BYU 19-stake fireside Feb. 7 in the Marriott Center at the final session of the eighth annual Book of Mormon Symposium.President Hunter's comments, which dealt with adversity, seemed ironic following a disruption in the fireside created by a man who came onto the stand threatening to detonate a bomb. (Please see story on page 4.)

Following the incident, President Hunter continued with his address. The first comment he made after the disruption was, "Life has a fair number of challenges in it - as demonstrated."

The symposium, held Feb. 5-7, was hosted by the BYU Religious Studies Center. Theme of the three-day event was "This Is My Gospel," taken from 3 Nephi 9-30. The symposium included 25 presentations from BYU faculty, Ricks College faculty, Church Educational System personnel and others. (On this page are capsules of two of the presentations.)

In his address, President Hunter said, "I want you to know that there have always been some difficulties in mortal life and there always will be. But knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair.

"I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy, and have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process."

President Hunter continued: "I hope you won't believe all the world's difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do - especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives."

When challenges "humble us and refine us and teach us and bless us, they can be powerful instruments in the hands of God to make us better people, to make us more grateful and more loving, more considerate of other people in their own times of difficulty.

"Our task," President Hunter remarked, "is to have the gospel in our lives and to be a bright light, a city set on the hill, which reflects the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy and happiness that will always come to every people in every age who keep the commandments."

He noted that tribulations and calamities and the prophecies of such times inevitably bring fear, "but I want to stress that these feelings are not necessary for faithful Latter-day Saints and they do not come from God."

The Lord's counsel to fear not is laced throughout the scriptures, President Hunter related. "I think it is incumbent upon us to rejoice a little more and despair a little less, to give thanks for what we have and for the magnitude of God's blessings to us, and talk a little less about what we may not have or what anxiety may accompany difficult times in this or any generation.

"If our faith and hope are anchored in Christ, in His teachings, commandments, and promises, then we are able to count on something truly remarkable, genuinely miraculous, which can part the Red Sea and lead Modern Israel to a place `where none shall come to hurt or make afraid.'

"I promise you tonight," President Hunter said emphatically, "in the name of the Lord whose servant I am that God will always protect and care for His people. The Lord has power over His saints and will always prepare places of peace, defense and safety for His people. When we have faith in God we can hope for a better world - for us personally and for all mankind."

President Hunter then asked his audience, "Are we prepared to surrender to God's commandments? Are we prepared to achieve victory over our appetites? Are we prepared to obey righteous law? If we can honestly answer yes to those questions we can bid fear to depart from our lives." - Sheridan R. Sheffield

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed