Elder Clark G. Gilbert, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System, delivered Tuesday’s devotional address. He spoke on how BYU’s mission enables a union of sacred and secular studies and shared four attributes of Christ that can bring us comfort during perilous times.
Elder Gilbert explained that he loves BYU – and not just because he’s an alumnus. Elder Gilbert juxtaposed his uncomfortable experiences as a religious minority in high school with several cherished memories at BYU where he felt uplifted and encouraged in scholarly and sacred settings.
Learning from John Tanner (a future BYU–Hawaii president), studying international theory under Jeff Ringer and being recognized by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who was president of BYU at the time, added greatly to Elder Gilbert's appreciation of BYU.
“All of these leaders – from the university presidents to faculty and even my peers – taught me that at BYU, we can perform at the highest levels, engage with the world and never compromise our values or our beliefs. In fact, BYU taught me that we can do this not in spite of our faith but because of it.”
Elder Gilbert also used his perspective as the Commissioner of the Church Educational System to explain the detailed, Church-guided structure within BYU's administration. He explained that BYU will never stray from its mission because it’s led by a very special board of trustees, including President Russell M. Nelson.
“The board is chaired by a former medical school professor, three former university presidents, the head of one of the largest women’s organizations in the world and other leaders with robust educational and administrative experience. By any external standard, this is a remarkable board. But more importantly, these are spiritual, even prophetic leaders. They pray over you. They counsel about your needs. They receive revelation for this institution. They love BYU, and they love you.”
Despite Elder Gilbert’s firm faith in BYU, he recognizes that we all need support. To help us navigate increasing contention and find peace in perilous times, Elder Gilbert shared four comforting attributes of Christ.
1. Christ takes us where we are — you don’t have to be perfect Elder Gilbert used a conversion story of a family in San Antonio, Texas, to explain that perfection isn’t required to follow Christ.
“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 “Even when we feel attacked for our most cherished beliefs, He inspires us to respond with empathy and kindness,” testified Elder Gilbert.
3. Christ repairs the breaches in our lives Elder Gilbert recounted a realization he had while counseling with a man who had made some terrible mistakes in his life. This man had been diligently working through the repentance process but still felt discouraged because he couldn’t fix everything. Elder Gilbert recalled his colleague sharing an insight from Isaiah 58:12, which teaches us that there are certain wounds only the Savior can heal:
“[He] shall be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”
4. Christ succors us in our infirmities There will be moments when pain hits in unexpected and unfair places, said Elder Gilbert. Nevertheless, he emphasized, Christ is perfectly understanding and comforting.
“For any of you … who are struggling with challenges that don’t seem fair, don’t turn to the world. Please, turn to your covenants that bind you to Jesus Christ. He can comfort you in a way no one else can.”
Next devotional James and Deborah Fallows, writers and journalists, will deliver the next forum address on Tuesday, February 15, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.
Their remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio 107.9 FM, and SiriusXM 143. Video, text, and audio are archived on speeches.byu.edu.