PROVO, Utah — Elder Clark G. Gilbert’s devotional address Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Brigham Young University was anchored to a comforting message: Christ’s followers can find peace — even amid the din of a contentious world.
A General Authority Seventy and the Church’s commissioner of education, Elder Gilbert emphasized his message of “Christ’s peace in perilous times” by sharing a familiar promise from President Russell M. Nelson:
“The Lord has declared that despite today’s unprecedented challenges, those who build their foundations upon Jesus Christ — and have learned how to draw upon His power — need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era.”
Elder Gilbert began Tuesday’s message by expressing his own love for the Church’s flagship university. He is a BYU alum, and the school remains for him a sanctuary of fellowship, scholarship, peace and promise.
BYU, he said, “can serve as a refuge and a source of strength for a season in what will certainly be a lifetime of standing up for your beliefs and values.”
He reminded BYU students that they occupy “a sacred seat.” Latter-day Saint students living in areas such as, say, Africa, Brazil and the Philippines look to BYU students as examples.
“They would do anything to receive the opportunities you have to be on this campus, to live in this community and to be at this devotional,” he said.
BYU, he added, is not simply a university “where members of the Church happen to attend in large numbers.” Rather, it is a religious university with a religious purpose. Its significance in establishing the kingdom of God has been foretold by latter-day prophets. It is governed by inspired Church leaders — including the First Presidency; two Apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder D. Todd Christofferson; and Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham.
“They pray over you. They counsel about your needs. They receive revelation for this institution. They love BYU, and they love you.”
BYU, testified Elder Gilbert, is designed for a distinct spiritual purpose: It can change lives. Its students carry the hopes of many across the Church. It is prophetically led “and will remain a spiritual beacon to the world.”
Elder Gilbert recently watched a popular movie with his youngest daughter, Clair. The 8-year-old wanted reassurance that “the good guys” would win in the end. Her father assured her that the good guys will indeed prevail — but it might first require a bit of patience and faith.
“We live in scary times,” he said. “As I listen to students across the Church Educational System, I hear young people tell me they are worried about getting married or having children, in part because the world is in such commotion. As Elder [Neil L.] Andersen has stated: ‘My young friends, the world will not glide calmly toward the Second Coming of the Savior.’”
Much of the commotion is driven by the adversary, who undermines spirituality, stirs up anger and makes people indifferent towards others.
But peace can be realized even at a time of worry and fear, Elder Gilbert assured his devotional audience.
He taught four attributes of Jesus Christ that can bring peace and comfort during perilous times.
1. Christ takes us where we are — you don’t have to be perfect.
Elder Gilbert spoke of watching imperfect, everyday people realize joy and peace by inviting Christ into their lives.
“Brothers and sisters, you don’t need to be perfect to be in this Church. You just need to do your best, which includes repenting and striving to become something more in Jesus Christ.”
2. Christ loves us even when we do not reciprocate that love.
The Savior remains the perfect example of One who loves even when love is unreciprocated.
“In this season of polarizing public discourse, I’m grateful for Christ’s model of charity and love. Even when we feel attacked for our most cherished beliefs, He inspires us to respond with empathy and kindness.”
3. Christ repairs the breaches in our lives.
Last Christmas, a shower nozzle broke at the Gilbert home, spraying water everywhere. Elder Gilbert remembered his feelings of desperation and helplessness being relieved when a skilled friend came to the rescue on Christmas Day and repaired the nozzle.
A person may sometimes feel his or her life is like that broken shower nozzle. Sin can make one feel damaged and desperate. But the Savior can heal such wounds.
“In these troubled times, Christ is the Repairer of the breaches in our lives,” Elder Gilbert said.
4. Christ succors us in our infirmities.
When Elder Gilbert was a young missionary serving in Japan, he joined his mission president to deliver awful news to a fellow missionary whose mother had died in an accident.
Elder Gilbert said he felt overwhelmed and inadequate in his desire to comfort his fellow missionary. But he found strength in the Spirit’s comforting assurances.
“I knew that the Atonement of Jesus Christ allowed us to overcome sin. I knew that through Christ we could overcome death. But that night on the Osaka freeway, I learned that Christ could also comfort us in our struggles, in our suffering, when life wasn’t fair. I didn’t know what that young missionary was facing, but through the miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, there was One who did.
“For any of you who are struggling with challenges that don’t seem fair, please turn to the covenants that bind you to Jesus Christ. He can comfort you in a way no one else can.”
Discover comfort during discomforting times by emulating the Savior’s example of hope, Elder Gilbert concluded. The Savior knows that despite the tumult of the world, “God will prevail in the end.”