BYU–Pathway president promises students can find calm by turning to the Savior amid turmoil

Elizabeth Meeks is a BYU–Pathway student from Arizona. Soon after the semester started, she contracted a particularly bad case of COVID-19 and struggled to focus or think clearly. She wondered if she would need to drop her classes.

Marcus Blanc is a BYU–Pathway student from Haiti. When the pandemic hit, he unexpectedly returned home early from his mission to find his country experiencing economic uncertainty, high crime rates and civil unrest. He struggled to access a computer or the internet.

BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Clark G. Gilbert shared the experiences of both students during his last devotional as president of the Church’s online learning program. President Gilbert, who was sustained during April general conference as a General Authority Seventy, will be replaced by Brian K. Ashton on Aug. 1.

During the devotional broadcast on Tuesday, June 15, President Gilbert spoke of BYU–Pathway students all across the world — like Meeks and Blanc — whose lives have been impacted by the pandemic and have wondered whether they can keep going with the world being in such commotion.

President Gilbert shared Doctrine and Covenants 45:26, “And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them.”

Even as the turmoil in the world increases, President Gilbert told students, they do not need to fear. “You can have the calming influence of Jesus Christ in your lives,” he said. 

Meet the new president of BYU–Pathway Worldwide — a former member of the Sunday School general presidency

He then quoted Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who counseled BYU-Pathway students during a devotional in November 2019: “You need to remember always that you are not alone in this. … [Y]our Heavenly Father and your Savior know you and can and will grant you heavenly help. Make God your partner in BYU–Pathway.”

An El Greco painting found in a prominent cathedral in central Spain depicts Jesus surrounded by an ominous crowd. Those attending seem afraid of the chaos around Him but the Savior is calm with His eyes fixed on heaven.

“When the world is in commotion, we can look to heaven and find peace,” President Gilbert assured.

He shared a video where President Russell M. Nelson recounts being on a small airplane when an engine caught fire and the aircraft took a deep dive toward the earth.

Although President Nelson expected to die, he felt perfectly calm. “I was prepared to meet my maker,” he says.

To individuals whose hearts are fearful, President Nelson says in the video: “Be patient with yourself. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable. But demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference. I’m so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that allows me that kind of strength in these tumultuous times.”

Remember the students Elizabeth Meeks and Marcus Blanc? President Gilbert asked. “Like so many BYU-Pathway students, they have exercised their faith in Christ and made God their partner in this process.”

Meeks finished her semester and worked through her health challenges by praying every time she worked and studied. “I feel at times like angels were guiding my hands to type what I needed to type,” she said.

President Gilbert also shared the words of Blanc, who said: “It was really, really hard for me, but I prayed, and the Lord listened and helped me. Even if life is hard, keep praying and have faith in Jesus Christ.”

President Gilbert concluded by acknowledging the many challenges faced by his listeners. “I know you sometimes have fears about completing your schooling amidst a world in commotion. But I testify to you that the Lord is with you, and He will help you find hope and strength in these tumultuous times.”