President and Sister Oaks teach BYU–Idaho students how faith in the Lord is synonymous with trust in the Lord

REXBURG, Idaho — Faith in Christ “prepares us for whatever life brings,” taught President Dallin H. Oaks on Tuesday to students at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Exercising faith — the first principle of the gospel — means exercising trust in God’s will and His way of doing things. Faith includes trusting His timetable.

“When we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must trust Him enough that we are content to accept His will, knowing that He knows what is best for us.”

President Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks, both shared faith-centered messages during their Nov. 16 student devotional at the BYU–Idaho Center. 

Faith in Jesus Christ, said President Oaks, prepares one to take advantage of life’s opportunities — and to persist through the disappointments of lost opportunities.

“In the exercise of that faith, we should commit ourselves to the priorities and standards we will follow on matters we do not control, and we should persist in those commitments whatever happens to us because of the agency of others or the timing of the Lord.

“Faith in Jesus Christ and a firm commitment to put the Lord first in our lives and to keep His commandments will bring us direction and peace and a consistency to our lives.”

President Oaks shared an example of “faith in action” in the life of one BYU–Idaho student who is the only Latter-day Saint in her family. The student’s family did not support their relative’s decision to serve a mission — and there were delays in the prospective missionary’s paperwork. But the student chose to endure to the end and exercise faith. Finally, following a nine-month wait, a mission call arrived — and the student served a mission.

“Patience is a hard lesson for me to study, so I am still learning today,” wrote the BYU–Idaho student. “One of the ways that I maintain faith when the blessing came later than hoped is to try not to focus on the blessing I am hoping for but focus on trusting in the Lord.  The truth is He knows the best of my needs, and He is in charge of all things.”

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency speaks to BYU–Idaho students during a devotional held in the BYU–Idaho Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency speaks to BYU–Idaho students during a devotional held in the BYU–Idaho Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: James Turcotte, BYU–Idaho

President Oaks asked his audience to consider what faith is.

“For some, faith is nothing more than faith in themselves. That is only self-confidence or self-centeredness. Others have faith in faith, which is something like relying on the power of positive thinking or betting on the proposition that we can get what we want by manipulating the powers within us.”

But the kind of faith that includes trust in the Lord stands in contrast to many imitations.

”Some people trust no one but themselves. Some put their highest trust in a friend or another family member or even a teacher or scientist or political leader. But that is not the Lord’s way. He told us to put our faith and our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As Proverbs 3:5 teaches: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Faith in Christ, added President Oaks, impels one to action because he or she trusts that God knows them, loves them and hears his or her prayers.

“In fact, God will do more than what is best for us. He will do what is best for us and for all of our Heavenly Father’s children. The conviction and trust that the Lord knows more than we do and that He will answer our prayers in the way and at the time that is best for us and for all of His other children is a vital consequence and ingredient of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith is also defined “as a conviction so strong that it causes us to act in a way we otherwise would not act.” That is essential for students managing the challenges of pursuing education to improve one’s life. Serving the Lord and keeping His commandments during a time of higher education requires faith in Christ and His promises.

President [Russell M.] Nelson told me that it was 12 years after he began his medical education before he submitted one bill for his medical services. … During that time, he and his wife [Danzel] began their family, which eventually numbered 10 children. His biography tells that after nine years of marriage, as they were walking in South Boston, ’Danzel pressed her nose against the windowpane of a furniture store and wistfully asked, ‘Do you think we’ll ever be able to afford a lamp?’

“Many of you may feel that way, too.”

Blessings can come in the face of enormous opposition, President Oaks promised, if one exercises faith and follows the Lord, even during periods of uncertainty.

Students show they are prepared to learn during the devotional with President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks in the BYU–Idaho Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
Students show they are prepared to learn during the devotional with President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks in the BYU–Idaho Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: Francisco Fierro, BYU-Idaho

“Nearly every day our missionaries arrive in countries where they have little knowledge of the language and where the food, culture, and living conditions are often much different from that which they are accustomed to,” he said. “And yet they go boldly as modern pioneers, not fearing the journey, walking with faith in every footstep to bring to people everywhere the good news of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”

When a person exercises faith in Christ and follows His commandments, he or she does not need to “plan every single event” or feel rejected or depressed when things do not happen at a time planned, hoped or prayed for.
President Oaks shared the example of a BYU-Idaho student whose husband was repeatedly turned down for desired college teaching positions. But the couple opted to remain prayerful and patient. Their faith did not waver. Soon a desirable teaching position opened up.

Wrote the student: “We realized that [the] Lord knows us better than we know ourselves, and if we are patient and faithful, the Lord will direct our paths to where He needs us to go. We just need to be open to His direction.”

Concluding, President Oaks challenged his Tuesday devotional audience to commit to putting the Lord first in their lives, following His commandments and heeding the counsel of His servants.

“Then your feet are on the pathway to eternal life. Then it does not matter whether you are called to be a bishop or a Relief Society president, whether you are married or single, or whether you die tomorrow. You do not know what will happen. Do your best and then trust in the Lord and His timing.”

Faith brings assurance during uncertainties

Also focusing her teachings on faith, Sister Oaks expressed the love that she and her husband, President Oaks, share for the BYU-Idaho students.

“We especially love our visits here because of the extra measure of spirituality you seem to have,” she said. “You know, another temple is about to come to Rexburg, and you are much of the reason.  The Lord knows your hearts, your faith and devotion to Him, and your desire to be close to Him.”

The Oaks live directly across the plaza from the Salt Lake Temple. Every morning they look out on the reconstruction efforts happening on that beloved edifice. They watch the trucks and cranes perform their daily work.

Sister Kristen Oaks speaks to BYU–Idaho students during a devotional held in the BYU–Idaho Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
Sister Kristen Oaks speaks to BYU–Idaho students during a devotional held in the BYU–Idaho Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: James Turcotte, BYU-Idaho

“The temple is now hidden behind scaffolding and is a work in progress being made stronger and steadfast.”

Sister Oaks’ 10-year-old great niece, Emma, recently visited. The little girl looked out at the Salt Lake Temple site from their living room window and called out in a loud voice, “Oh, no, come quick, Aunt Kristen, the temple is gone!”

Laughing, Sister Oaks explained to Emma that the temple is still very much there — it just can not be seen because it is being upgraded and prepared by Heavenly Father to make it safer for His important work.

“Our times are unique because, just like Emma, it seems so much around us seems to be changing and things we held on to don’t seem to be there,” she said. “This world is full of surprises. The truth and doctrines that we know are questioned on every side.  Our beliefs are peculiar and unique and holy and not of this world, and if we really want the assurance of our Heavenly Father, we have to seek to find Him.”

Sister Oaks assured the BYU-Idaho students that God is waiting to connect with and lead His children. “We have only to reach out to Him to guide us through the challenges that lie ahead, from the smallest to the largest.”

The Lord is always present to inspire and direct His followers, even in their darkest hours.

“Though often that direction is not immediate and sometimes requires every ounce of patience we can exert to wait to get an answer,” she said. “I can promise you that what lies ahead for all of us will require all the faith we can muster to meet it and with every step we need to look to the Lord.”

She also testified that Tuesday’s BYU-Idaho devotional was presided over by one of the Lord’s Apostles — President Oaks. It is no coincidence, she said, that the Oaks were with the BYU-Idaho students at this pivotal moment in their lives.

“To make this day memorable, … remember that the dullest pencil is better than the sharpest memory.  As President Oaks speaks to you, write down ideas that relate to you — and more importantly, feelings and impressions his words bring to mind. 

“That is the Spirit talking to you.”

Students gather in the BYU–Idaho Center for a devotional with President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
Students gather in the BYU–Idaho Center for a devotional with President Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: James Turcotte, BYU–Idaho

Uplifted and fortified

Students at BYU-Idaho were clearly thrilled to have President and Sister Oaks in Rexburg. They began filling the BYU-Idaho Center long before Tuesday’s devotional began.

Afterward, many said they were uplifted and fortified by the messages of their special visitors.

“I appreciated what President Oaks said about having faith in Jesus Christ and putting His will first,” said Cheng Yang, a communications student from Taiwan.

Amara Alonso of San Antonio, Texas, was reminded Tuesday that faith in the Lord is synonymous with trust in the Lord. “So often, we just have to rely on God and understand that He knows more than we do,” she said.

Amara’s friend, Ines Morales of Emmett, Idaho, echoed Alonso’s sentiments that faith and trust in Christ make for a powerful combination.

Brady Fang, another Taiwanese student, said President and Sister Oaks’ shared counsel to have faith in the Lord “can really help me when I have struggles.”