LDS Business College Devotional
July 3, 2012
Before I get started on my talk, I just want to tell you how much Heavenly Father loves each of you. As I have sought the will of heaven to know what I should share with you today, I had constant outpourings of how much Heavenly Father loves and appreciates each of you, and that makes this a weighty assignment, because I want to make sure that my words are a blessing to you. I know that Heavenly Father appreciates when you fight against the odds in your life, and when you make sacrifices and obey, and when you are humble enough to repent when it’s needed. He’s relying on you to carry forward this Church in the future, and He has complete confidence in you. I just wanted to start out by sharing that message.
I also want to mention that Elder Marvin J. Ashton said that the ability to weep is actually a spiritual gift, and Heavenly Father has given me more than my share than I really think He should have. So I’ll do my best to not share so much of that gift with you, but if I do, thank you for your patience. And if you are someone who really can’t stand people who cry in public, I want to let you know that we are going to talk about football in a few minutes to kind of balance it out. And there’s no crying in football, so I just wanted to let you know that so that you don’t automatically tune out every time I share my spiritual gift with you.
One question I have for you is how many of you know Brother Adrian Juchau, or have had a chance to meet him or work with him? Raise your hands. Thank you. Brother Juchau, just so you know, I’m not going to ask you to do anything weird. Before I do get to something I want to say, I want you to know that he is one of the best-kept secrets at LDS Business College, and if you have been involved in the mentors and ambassadors program, you have been able to partake of the wisdom and the blessing that that program has been and who you have become in the process. And Brother Juchau actually shared this analogy with me that I want to share with each of you.
What I want you to do is take your index finger and stick it about six inches in front of your face and focus only on your finger. What do you see? This is the part where you can actually talk. A finger. What’s on your finger? Okay, do you see a knuckle, you see hair, depending on how old you are maybe wrinkles, maybe scars, maybe dirty fingernails, maybe beautiful fingernails.
Now I want you to keep focusing on that finger. Don’t take your eyes from your finger, and tell me what I’m holding up. [Holds up a picture of the Savior.] What kind of a square is it? None of you can tell me. Now I want you to keep that finger up in front of your face and look at your surroundings. What do you see that you couldn’t see before when you were staring at your finger? Okay, a picture of Christ. What else do you see? A lot of great people. You see me. Okay, don’t look at me; look at your finger the whole talk.
So pretend this finger is a big problem you have in your life. While you are staring at that problem and focusing only on that problem, what does that mean for you as far as fixing your problem goes? What are you missing? Everything. Okay. There are so many beautiful things in this room and in this world that you can’t see because you are focusing on that problem. And you’re missing, actually, the main source of help with that problem. So that is actually what I want to focus my talk on today.
I want us to talk about Christ’s matchless healing power and the power of deliverance that He offers to each of us, regardless of who we are and what our circumstances are. And I hope we can all walk away with an increased conviction of how much He yearns to lighten our burdens and to heal us and deliver us and to make us into who He wants us to be.
Like I mentioned when we liken our finger unto a problem, a lot of us feel like we don’t just have one finger in front of our faces, we feel like we might have 10. They move around a lot, and then they’re here and there, and we might actually feel like we are broken. Can anyone tell me what this is? [Shows a broken Pampered Chef stone slide.] Stoneware. What is special about it? Why would it be better than just a regular pizza sheet or something like that? What happens the more you use it? It gets what they call seasoned, so your food actually tastes better. Some of us might feel in different seasons of our lives that we just have too many fingers in front of our face, and we might feel broken. My talk today is especially for those of you who feel broken, and for those of you who want to help others who feel broken.
And before I get into it, I want to ask you guys—I already have a big long list of things to answer this question that I’m going to ask. I’ve worked with people your age professionally and in the Church for several years, and I know some of the things you face that make you feel broken, but I want to make it real for you guys. So what kinds of things in your lives or the lives of people your age—friends, family, people you know—might make you guys feel like that?
This is the part where you speak, and if you don’t, I’ll shine the laser on you.
[Below, Sister Thompson responds to individual comments.]
•Okay, relationships. There are lots of things with relationships. There are strained relationships, broken relationships, no relationships, too many relationships. Some people might not feel like that’s a problem, but it’s a problem in some people’s lives.
•Finances and financial struggles. Okay, trying to make it through college, pay your tuition and pay your rent. And if you’ve got a family, that makes it even more weighty.
•There’s the regular load, and then there can be academic struggles. Maybe you’ve got cognitive limitations, or maybe it’s just not your subject and it’s really stressing you out, or you’re putting all your time into the subject trying to do well. And then there’s just the general heavy load of school.
•Balance—between school, work, everything else, social life. You want to serve in church; you want to learn everything you can from your professors while you’re here, and from extra programs like mentors and ambassadors. And this is the awesome time in your life to socialize with great people, so that’s something you want to do. Anything else?
•People who kind of bring you down. Okay, so you’re trying to be righteous, or maybe have a positive attitude, and there are may be other people who are wanting to get up but are actually pulling down.
•Feeling alone. Absolutely. This is a time where it could be a social Mecca; it’s also a time where you are away from home, and it could feel like—there could be loneliness and isolation as well.
•Temporary or long-term illness, that keeps you from doing what you would like to do.
•Culture and language problems. My hat is officially off to every international student who comes here. I wouldn’t last five seconds in your country. My gift of weeping would be chronic as I tried to survive.
•Trying to stay obedient and righteous in a wicked world is a difficult thing to do. That’s actually one really important reason that the Church has schools like this, is to help protect you from that and help you grow in the ways you can grow, in a safe environment.
Thank you for your feedback. I hope you are feeling an increase of the Spirit just by the fact that we are teaching one another and you are sharing today.
I have also known students who struggle with depression and anxiety, destructive addictions, same-sex attraction; we mentioned social struggles, academic struggles. The loss of a loved one, spiritual or physical. Those are all things that can be very heavy burdens, and I don’t want to focus on the heaviness of the burdens today, I want to focus on the healing. But that heaviness is real, and that’s exactly why the Savior is there to heal us.
What is more concerning to me than the heaviness of the burdens is the hopelessness that can come along with that. Satan says, “Oh, that’s a really great person who has a lot more power than me, and I want them to feel worthless while they’re struggling with this burden, or to feel hopeless.” And so he cashes in on that experience. But I do want to again testify that President Monson has said that He [Heavenly Father] “shapes [our backs] to bear the burden[s that are] placed upon” us. (April 2009 General Conference) He offers us the healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2; 3 Nephi 25:2; 2 Nephi 25:13), and he offers us the “companionship of the heavens” (James Ferrell, The Peacegiver).
So why do you guys think that brokenness … actually, I need to end the discussion so I can do my talk, so I’m going to ask a question, but it’s back over to the speaker, okay? So, rhetorical question: why does Heavenly Father allow brokenness in our lives? Oh, I skipped and didn’t even mean it. We say, “Oh, I was so good when I was that brand new Pampered Chef pizza stone, and now I’m this broken piece of junk and I can’t even do anything.” Why does Heavenly Father allow that in our lives?
When we suffer what we may feel are Abrahamic trials or insurmountable obstacles, we may wonder why. And again, I want to offer two answers why. There are a lot of answers why, but I want to focus on two today that actually are an outpouring of Heavenly Father’s love for us.
The first one is that it is the price we have to pay for eternal life. And the second one is that we would not reach our potential otherwise. I have a wonderful quote that I want to share from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and I want to give you a quick background on this. I was living up in Rexburg in May 2007, and I was dealing with some things that felt like Abrahamic trials to me. And I found out that Elder Holland was coming to my stake conference. I had loved him; I loved his talks and would study them and gain so much strength from them. And at the time, my desire—I just had this yearning to meet with him one-on-one and receive his counsel with what I was going through. And I knew that that’s not how it works. They’re busy and they have lots of people to meet with, and that’s why we have local leaders. Heavenly Father takes care of us through our home teachers and our bishops and our visiting teachers and stake presidents. But I offered this prayer. It was the desire of my heart, and I said, “I know this is ridiculous, but here’s my prayer.”
And then I kind of forgot about it because I thought it was ridiculous for me to ask. So anyway, we get to the adult session of stake conference and Elder Holland started out his talk, and he said, “I have had the most unusual experience trying to prepare a talk for this session.” And he said, “Did one of you pray for an answer with a pressing issue?” And there could have been five hundred people in that room that did, but to me, that was an answer to my prayer. And then he said, “Whoever you are, pretend we’re having a one-on-one conversation.” To me that was so special. I didn’t need to meet with Elder Holland one-on-one, but Heavenly Father knew what I needed. And I received permission from [Elder Holland] to share some of the quotes that he shared at that stake conference. And this quote that I’m going to share has to do with the reasons why Heavenly Father allows brokenness in our lives and why it’s part of mortality but why it comes when we haven’t necessarily done anything wrong.
Like I said, it’s the price for eternal life, and it helps us reach our potential, so this quote backs it up:
“When you grit your teeth, tough it out, and . . . stiffen your spine, something happens. That something is that the path you say you can’t walk, you walk. And the load you say you can’t carry, you carry. And you find something God intends you to find. You find the seeds of divinity in you. He is making you like God and there is no easy way to do that. Life is hard because salvation is hard.” And then he said something very piercing: “The road to salvation goes through Gethsemane. How can we say we’re disciples of Christ and not expect to experience at least a tiny bit of Gethsemane? There’s no way to become like God without walking where he walked and suffering what he suffered a little.” (May 2007)
Now I’m going to show you a video that’s totally contrasting, or illustrating the point of how we need extremities to reach our potential. The contrast part is that it’s not a Mormon Message, okay? It’s some football guys at a practice. So those of you who are tired of the crying, you get to hear some yelling. So just preparing those of you who are really gentle and don’t like yelling—I’m not really a yelling fan either but just look for the point behind what’s going on in the video.
[ ‘Facing the Giants’ death crawl scene]
Voice: “Okay let’s go, show me something. Ten yards. Move it.”
By the way, this is a football team that is in a losing streak and doing really bad.
Voice: Okay, get your knees on the ground. Show me something. Ten yards. Show me some muscle! Show me some power! Give me some more! Go!
While we’re getting the sound, ponder the spiritual implications of the death crawl. That’s what you were just seeing. Okay. What’s the death crawl in your life? Sometimes the Lord asks us to do the death crawl.
Voice: All right, let’s go. Show me something. Ten yards. Let’s go. Let’s go, Giles. Show me some power! Keep your knees of the ground. Show me something. There we go! Ten yards! Show me some muscle! Show me some power! Give me some more! Let’s go. Very good, boys! Very good!
Boys’ voices: That’s not even funny dude.
Young man: So Coach, how strong is Westview this year?
Brock: A lot stronger than we are.
Coach: You’ve already written Friday night as a loss, Brock?
Brock: Well, not if I knew we could beat them.
Coach: Come here, Brock. You too, Jeremy.
Brock: What, am I in trouble now?
Coach: Not yet. I want to see you do the death crawl, and I want to see you do your absolute best. (Laughter)
Brock: What, you want me to go to the 30?
Coach: The 50.
Brock: The 50. I could go to the 50 if there was nobody on my back.
Coach: Well, you’ll have Jeremy on your back. But even if you can’t I want you to promise me you’re going to do your best.
Brock: All right.
Coach: Your best. You’re going to give me your best.
Brock: I’m going to give you my best.
Coach: Okay. One more thing. I want you to do it blindfolded.
Coach: I want you to go farther. Get down. Jeremy, get on his back. All right, let’s go, Brock. Hands and feet, there you go. To the left, to the left. There you go. Keep coming. There you go. (Sounds of struggle, talking in background.) There you go, go left. There you go, Brock. Good strength. That’s it, Brock, that’s it.
Brock: Am I there yet?
Coach: Just give me your best, Brock. Don’t stop. You’ve got more to give than that.
Brock: I ain’t done, I’m just resting a second.
Coach: You’ve got to keep moving. Let’s keep moving. Let’s go. Don’t quit till you’ve got nothing left. There you go. Keep moving. Keep going. You keep driving. Keep your knees off the ground. Keep driving. Your very best! Your very best! Your very best! Keep moving, Brock! That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! Keep going. Don’t quit on me. Keep going. Keep driving. Keep your knees off the ground. That’s it. Your very best! Don’t quit on me. Your very best. Keep driving! Keep driving! There you go! There you go! Just keep driving! Keep your knees off the ground! Keep driving! Don’t quit until you’ve got nothing left. Keep moving, Brock. That’s it! That’s it! I want everything you’ve got! That’s it!
Brock: It’s hard!
Coach: Don’t quit on me. Your very best. Keep driving! Keep driving! Don’t you give up on me, Brock, you hear me? You keep going. You’re doing good. You keep going.
Brock: It hurts!
Coach: I know it hurts. You keep going. It’s all heart from here. Thirty more steps. You keep going, Brock! Come on! Keep going!
Brock: It burns!
Coach: Let it burn. It’s all heart. You keep going, Brock. Come on! Keep going! You promised me your best—don’t stop! Keep going!
Brock: It’s too hard!
Coach: It’s not too hard! Keep going, Brock! Twenty more steps! Twenty more! Give me your best! Keep going! Don’t quit! Go, Brock Kelly, don’t you quit on me! Ten more steps! Ten more! Don’t quit!
Brock: I can’t!
Coach: You can! Five more, come on Brock! Don’t quit! One more!
Brock: I just don’t have any more.
Coach: You did good, Brock. You’re in the end zone … Brock, you are the most influential player on this team. If you walk around defeated, so will they. Don’t tell me you can’t give me more than what I’ve been seeing. You just carried a 140-pound man across this whole field in your arms. Brock, I need you. God’s gifted you with the ability of leadership. Don’t waste it. Can I count on you?
Coach: What is it, Jeremy?
Jeremy: I weigh 160.
Okay. So how many of you guys know Ralph Little? Don’t you think if he were a football coach, he’d be like that—except there’s no such thing as running out, right? There’s no such thing as having nothing left. Anyway, every time I watch that I can’t help but think of Brother Little—inspiring.
So back to the video. How long is a football field? One hundred yards. So Brock was settling for 30, maybe 50 [yards] if I’m lucky, but he had someone who saw his potential and could stretch him a lot further, and that’s what Heavenly Father wants to do with us. And that’s why He blindfolds us a lot as well. He doesn’t let us see the whole picture because He knows that we would give up before He’s done with us and before He has turned us into what He wants us to be. So while we’re saying, “Heavenly Father, please turn us back into that brand new Pampered Chef stoneware,” He’s saying, “You know what? I want to turn you into a masterpiece. I have something much better in mind for you, and that takes a lot more personal crafting.” And we’re not all going to look the same. He’s got different masterpieces in mind that are much better than a Pampered Chef stoneware.
So that’s what I want to stress to each of you. And just to further the point, what would have happened if Joseph of Egypt had given up? There would be no Twelve Tribes. He delivered his family; he delivered Egypt; he delivered everyone in the surrounding area who would have faced starvation.
What would have happened if Abraham gave up? If Abraham had said, “God’s asking too much of me?” We are blessed every day from the Abrahamic covenants that Abraham made, and we have an abundant amount of spiritual blessings because of those covenants that were restored with Joseph Smith. What if Joseph Smith and the early pioneers would have given up and said, “You know what? I’m staying in New York. I can’t handle this Missouri or this Illinois,” or “I’m staying in Iowa.” Think of all the blessings, including this school, including the continuation of the priesthood, the Book of Mormon, everything that we would be missing out on if other people had given up. And Heavenly Father needs you to keep pressing forward, too, because He’s got things like that for us to do as well.
So if healing were always easy and immediate, we would all be doing it all the time, and I would not be giving this talk. So obviously there are barriers to healing, and I just want to address a couple of those as well.
According to Elder Neal A. Maxwell (Oct 2003 General Conference), God wants to give us “all that [He] hath,” [but] we suffer from what he calls the poverty of perceptions! (see D&C 84:38). We don’t see things clearly because, number one, we’re mortal, and number two, just being on this earth and having weaknesses causes us to not see things clearly. And Satan is out there trying to spread his counterfeits. So again, this is exactly what Satan wants.
Elder Holland (May 2007) has a response to that as well. He calls them ‘satanic ploys.’ And the kind of misperceptions I’m talking about are:
(1)If we’re struggling and suffering we think it’s because we’re defective or inferior.
(2)We think God does not really care about us, otherwise He would save us sooner.
(3)We think maybe the Church isn’t true after all, or
(4)the Atonement might work for other people but not for me,
(5)Or we think, “I am totally alone and there is not a single soul who gets it,” or
(6)The world’s standards define my worth, not the gospel standards.
So now that we’ve heard a bunch of lies, let’s listen to the stone-cold sober truth from the Brethren.
Elder [Jeffrey R.} Holland:
He says, “Remember forever that God loves broken things. You may feel broken but remember that this is part of the pattern of life. . . .”
And then he paraphrased a famous quote by Vance Havner and said:
“It takes broken clouds to nourish the earth and broken ground to grow grain and broken bread to nourish us, and it took a [symbolically broken] Savior to save and heal us, and we are grateful for it. . . . ” He broke so that we can be repaired and healed.
“The thing that the Lord loves more than anything is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. . . . When [you] turn it over to Him and say ‘I cannot fix this’,” He doesn’t say, “That’s because you are a loser.” He says, “that is music to His ears.” That is music to His ears because what He wants is to teach you how to be like Him, and to comfort and heal you.
“During times when you feel broken [and hopeless] . . . . Heaven is closer to you than any other time in your life. In these times, you may have access to more of heaven’s care than you’ve ever been entitled to.” Please don’t ever forget that.
“In the middle of a storm, stay on board. Don’t jump ship. This is when you need the ship the most. Stay with the ship [aka: the gospel]; it’s your only chance for salvation. Stay with the Master of ocean and earth and skies who can calm the storm.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, May 2007, Rexburg East Stake Conference)
Let’s hear truth from another Brother. President [James E.] Faust says:
“You can do something for another person that no one else ever born can do.” (Sept 2005 General Relief Society Broadcast)
Lorenzo Snow says:
“The Lord . . . will try us until He knows what He can do with us. He tried His Son Jesus. Thousands of years before he came upon the earth the Father had watched His course and knew that He could depend upon Him when the salvation of worlds should be at stake. . . . He will continue to try us, in order that He may place us in the highest positions in life and put upon us the most sacred responsibilities” (Lorenzo Snow, Millennial Star, 24 August 1899, 532).
And I don’t think “highest” means “mission president.” Highest means where Heavenly Father views is highest.
So now that we’ve just heard it from the mouths of two or three witnesses, there’s no room for argument, right? So any time those lies come into our heads or we hear it from other people, we eschew it, right? We say, “No thank you. I’m going to listen to the voice of truth.” I will do it if you will. Is it a deal?
Now that we’ve talked about the damage a ‘poverty of perceptions’ can do, let’s talk about the blessings that can come from seeing the world and living with an eye of faith. My favorite Bible hero is Joseph of Egypt. For many years, he has been that way because of the strength he had when he had no reason to hope and when his future seemed bleak, even though he had done everything right and he had no idea how long he was going to be a slave or how long he would live.
As you may recall, He was one of 12 brothers, and his brothers lived far beneath their privileges and mocked a lot of the sacred covenants that Heavenly Father had made with them. They resented Joseph because they felt Jacob, their father, was giving him special treatment. And he would tell them about the dreams he had, and one of them had to do with them one day bowing to him, and that was really the kicker where they were like, “He is never going to rule us, so let’s kill him.”
Luckily, Reuben had a little bit softer heart than the rest of them and said, “You know what? Let’s not kill him.” And they decided to do the lesser of two evils and sell him into slavery instead.
I want you to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a minute. Can you imagine what it would feel like to have all of your most cherished hopes and dreams ahead of you, that you had prepared for your entire life, and then to be thrust into circumstances that made these things permanently impossible, or seemed to? Can you imagine being heartlessly and bitterly betrayed by the very people who were supposed to love and protect you the most? Can you imagine what it would feel like to wonder how long you would live, if you would ever know freedom and civility again, and if you were being punished and forsaken by God for something you had done or had not done that you should have? Maybe some of you can relate to this.
Despite all of the anguish Joseph was in, he set a magnificent example for us of how to access the Lord’s power of healing and eventual deliverance. Instead of mourning his fate and giving up on life, he chose hope, faith, trust and hard work. He bloomed where he was planted. When the Lord blessed him with favor in the sight of Potiphar, and unfortunately also Potiphar’s wife, Joseph chose obedience, regardless of the price. When he was faced with a possible life in prison, he chose patience and service. When he was given the status of second in command to Pharaoh and all of Egypt, he chose humility and gave credit to God. When faced with the chance to avenge himself of the severe crime his brothers committed against him, he chose compassion, forgiveness, and reunion. All of this would not be possible without the Savior. That’s where he found the strength to do it.
As you know, Joseph was a slave for many, many years before he became second in command to Pharaoh. So my question is, why do you think the Lord waited so long to deliver him? I submit to you that He was preparing Joseph to lead an effort to deliver. He needed this time to develop spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and in all other ways so that he could be the kind of leader that the Lord needed him to be and so that he wouldn’t let the power get to his head.
And again, I want to ask you, is it possible that the Lord is doing similar things with us when we face brokenness? I believe that He is. He is preparing us, He is putting us in these humble circumstances that may feel desperate so that, when we are delivered, we will know who delivered us, and we will know who healed us.
So another question is, at what point, do you feel like, Joseph’s stumbling block of being in bondage become a stepping stone? I think most of us, without thinking about it might say that it was when he became second in command to Pharaoh and got out of prison. And I want to submit to that it was long before that. I believe it was every time he chose hope over despair, agency over passive resignation, and faith and trust over fear and worry, and obedience over selfish indulgence, and forgiveness over revenge or bitterness. Each time Joseph relied on the Lord and chose the higher road, his stumbling block became a stepping stone because each step he took made him more like the deliverer that the Lord was making him into.
Another story that I want to share with you is a beautiful story of Joseph Smith when he was little and had to have surgery on his leg. I used to think of this as a Word of Wisdom story. I just remembered that they offered him whiskey to dull the pain, and he said no, and I just thought that Joseph Smith was inspired because he knew that drinking was bad even before he had the gospel and was only a little boy. But I listened to President Monson tell the story in a general conference address, and it brought on a whole new meaning for me. They offered to have him bite on a cord so that he wouldn’t thrash about, because they didn’t have anything to dull the pain, and he said "You [don't] need to tie me [down]." And this is like a 6- or 7-year-old boy, keep in mind.
And then they said, “Have some brandy or wine or at least something to help you out here,” and he said no. And this is the part that was meaningful to me. He said, "If my father will sit on the bed and hold me in his arms, I will do whatever is necessary." Now that is a touching story about a father and a son, but it had more meaning to me than that. I think it was symbolic of the Father and son relationship that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want to have with us. When we are in our extremities, He wants us to hold tightly to Him, He wants to comfort us. He wants us to feel of His love, because that is their work and their glory. That’s why they exist, is to comfort us when we are faint and to “hear our souls complaint.”
And I just want to testify to each of you that the Atonement, as Elder Merrill J. Bateman has said, “was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.” (October 2005 General Conference address). It wasn’t just an impersonal “mass of sin” that was dumped on Him in Gethsemane. Instead it was “a long line of people,” and he felt our infirmities, he “[bore] our griefs, … [and he] carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5) each and every one of us. And He knows the way out, because He got out for us.
I again want to testify that Jesus Christ has a matchless power to heal and deliver us. He can make a way when there is no way. He does it all the time. If you have looked at technology lately, those things didn’t exist. He is making ways when there is no way in so many ways—in our personal lives, in our spiritual lives, and just in the way the whole world runs these days. He feels every pain, and He knows how to overcome. He yearns to comfort us. He is the source of Light that makes it possible for us to endure, to repent, to obey, to sacrifice, to consecrate, and to forgive.
He is the Light that grows our seeds of Divinity in us. He goes before our face, and He is on our right hand and on our left. He is aware of every detail. Jesus Christ suffers with us. He doesn’t just sit back over there going, “Ooh, looks like Barbara is having a bad day.” He is wanting to be involved in all of the detail. And I testify that as we turn to Him, we can find the kind of healing that only He offers. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.