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Denise Stephens, professor of astronomy, spoke at Tuesday’s devotional about how understanding stars can help us understand our place in the universe.

“As I have studied God’s creations in the heavens, I have come to believe that all of God’s creations serve a purpose and exist for a reason,” she said. His creation of stars testifies that He lives and that He has a divine plan. However, unlike stars, which all eventually die, we are eternal. Our exaltation is the reason for the creation of everything we see.

Stephens pointed out that God gives an astronomy lesson to Abraham in the scriptures (Abraham 3:2–3) to help him understand the glory of stars. In her own astronomy lesson, she explained that stars vary in temperature and luminosity. Their glory varies from the brightest supergiant stars to the smallest white dwarfs.

Our sun falls somewhere in the middle of that range. It is not the largest, hottest or brightest. It does, however, provide just what the Earth needs. If it were any hotter or colder, it could not sustain our lives.

“The Sun has the perfect set of attributes to fulfill the calling it has been given,” said Stephens. “Each star is different, each has different attributes, each is at a different stage in its development and each star has a different mission. Likewise each child of God is different. . . . Just like the Sun, each of you has the perfect attributes and qualities you need to fill the measure of your creation.”

The same is true of brown dwarfs, which Stephens studies. Brown dwarfs are often called “failed stars” because they begin their formation like stars but never ignite hydrogen fusion in their cores, which is necessary for a star to develop. Stephens pointed out that “failed star” is a misnomer because these formations were never really meant to become stars. They serve a different purpose and help astronomers understand gaseous planets better.

“Brown dwarfs provide astronomers with essential knowledge that could be obtained in no other way. They perfectly fill the measure of their creation,” said Stephens.

In some ways, we are like those stars. If we compare ourselves to others, we cannot find happiness. However, if we truly understand our nature and our purpose, we will come to see that we perfectly fill the measure of our creation.

“Remember that you are a child of God,” said Stephens. “You are His creation. And you are perfect in who you are meant to be. Reach out to Him, and He will help you discover the gifts and talents He has given you and the mission He has for you in this life. None of us are failures.”

“When you are most weighed down with anger or doubt, if you can remember to look up, to behold God’s vast creations, you will be reminded of your eternal nature and that your current challenge or struggle is just a small moment in the timeframe of eternity,” she concluded.

“Never forget to look up. He is there and He is waiting for you and He will help you find your place in this universe.”

Next Devotional: Jeff McClellan, director of Publications and Graphics

Jeff McClellan, Director of Publications and Graphics, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, July 10, at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.

His remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYU Radio and will be archived on