Kendra M. Hall-Kenyon, interim dean of the David O. McKay School of Education, delivered today's devotional address. She taught that prospering in trials is possible when we make Jesus Christ the center of our lives.
Hall-Kenyon began by sharing a discussion she had with her then six-year-old son, Max. After a long discussion about the purpose of life, Max simply declared, “You can have a no-problem day, but you can’t have a no-problem life!”
This matter-of-fact statement reminded Hall-Kenyon that while none are excluded from experiencing trials in life, those challenges are essential parts of eternal progression.
Recounting the story of the people of Alma as told in Mosiah 23–24, Hall-Kenyon introduced the concept that no matter how righteous a people are, the Lord still allows challenges to be a part of their lives. She explained that although the Lord may not remove all trials immediately, He will allow his children to prosper even while in the midst of them.
“We prosper when we have a strong, personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ and hope in our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness.”
Hall-Kenyon continued by sharing four lessons she has learned from personal experiences in which she found strength from Jesus Christ in the midst of challenges.
Put your trust in the Lord
After graduating, Hall-Kenyon felt lost and unsure of what to do with her life. She wanted direction in every aspect of her life but learned that she needed to be able to move forward and trust that God had a plan for her.
This mindset motivated Hall-Kenyon to accept a teaching position in Washington D.C., and to later attend graduate school in New York City. It was there that she learned that acting in faith meant staying on the covenant path by doing the daily things that would deepen her conversion to her Heavenly Father.
“Continuing conversion requires us to implement a pattern of faith in our lives. We can develop this pattern during our no-problem days as well as during times of struggle and difficulty as we accept President Nelson’s invitation to make time for the Lord each day.”
Submit cheerfully and with patience to the will of the Lord
Following a driving accident, Hall-Kenyon’s younger brother Jason tragically became a quadriplegic. Despite prayers of healing on his behalf, he never fully recovered. However, Jason maintained a cheerful attitude and was able to accomplish many wonderful things in his lifetime.
In life, all will experience difficult challenges, Hall-Kenyon reminded the audience. She continued by promising that the Lord will help ease the burdens placed on His children's shoulders until they become bearable.
“My brother Jason … could have easily focused on his challenges. He wasn’t perfect, but each day he chose to have faith. He chose to respond with patience and trust in the Lord. He found his strength in Jesus Christ.”
Rejoice in the safety of your covenants
Quoting President Russell M. Nelson, Hall-Kenyon said, “Whenever any kind of upheaval occurs in your life, the safest place to be spiritually is living inside your temple covenants!”
Hall-Kenyon shared that she recently had the opportunity of to accompany her son, Max, for his first time to the temple. She expressed the great comfort she finds in knowing that her son has the temple as a palace of refuge, in which he can escape the confusion and chaos of the world.
“I know the Spirit he feels (in the temple) and the things he can learn there will be just what he needs to overcome whatever challenges he will face — now and throughout the rest of his life. The same is true for you and for me. We must find ourselves in the temple as often as we can.”
Center your life on Jesus Christ—He is the only way
As a student teacher at an inner-city school in Washington D.C., Hall-Kenyon received the horrific news that two young students had been killed as a result of gang violence. Following this tragedy, Hall-Kenyon engaged in a conversation with her students about ways they could stay safe. She was surprised when one student raised her hand and confidently declared that they needed to be saved by Jesus Christ.
While she was not expecting such a declaration, this student's answer deeply touched Hall-Kenyon and she has since reflected on its significance.
“Jesus Christ was her first thought. Her first line of defense. Over the years I have thought a lot about what that 11-year-old girl taught me that day through her example. Is Jesus Christ our first thought when we face a trial or challenge?”
Hall-Kenyon encouraged her audience to make Jesus Christ their first line of defense in all situations. She testified that when one turns to the Savior in difficult times, they can rest assured that the Lord will see them and eventually deliver them from their pain
“Whether it is a no-problem day, or we are in the midst of an intensive period of testing and trial in our lives, we can find strength in the Lord Jesus Christ.”