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Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discussed three principles inspired by events from the early life of the prophet Joseph Smith that add value to the lives of BYU students during this week's devotional address.

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President
Photo Credit: 
Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

Lesson 1: You have an important mission to fulfill

Sister Oscarson explained that just as Joseph Smith was foreordained in the premortal life to be the prophet of the restoration and was willing to stretch and work hard to extend his capacities, each person sitting in the audience came to earth foreordained to accomplish something special. 

"Just as there was nothing very remarkable about that little baby boy born in the woods of Vermont, it is perhaps hard to understand that you have the potential to make a great difference in the world," Sister Oscarson said. "I assure you that every single person sitting in this audience today has the capacity to become a mighty tool in the hands of the Lord in accomplishing deeds of eternal worth."

While Sister Oscarson noted that eternal families are at the forefront of LDS theology and doctrine, she also strongly suggested that this time for students at BYU is also for education and preparation.

"When and if marriage opportunities come, you will make a better wife, husband, mother and father because you have taken advantage of this time to educate yourself," Sister Oscarson said. "If marriage is delayed for you, your life will be richer and you will have more to contribute because you took advantage of every opportunity for learning and knowledge."

Lesson 2: Stand up to criticism

Another lesson found in the early life of Joseph Smith, Sister Oscarson said, was the idea that the Lord wants us to remember the times we have felt the spirit and to use those past experiences to strengthen and enable us to defend our faith.

Sister Oscarson recounted story of Joseph Smith who, as a fourteen-year-old boy, faced immense amounts of persecution after he told others about his experiences with the first vision. She shared that we all should follow Joseph's example as we step up to our own skeptics.

"When opposition comes, or you are going through a trial where it is hard to feel the Spirit, remember the times you have received that witness and hold on to your faith with both hands and all of your strength," Sister Oscarson encouraged.

Lesson 3: Understand principles of repentance

The one example of the universal principles of repentance, Sister Oscarson shared, is found during Joseph's firm, yet loving, chastisement from the Lord over the 116 lost pages as described in the third section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

"What healing balm those words must have been to the Prophet Joseph. He knew there was hope and that the Lord is loving, forgiving and will always allow us to start again,” Sister Oscarson said.

Sister Oscarson shared that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible to overcome our mistakes in life and to be a better person today in our habits, relationships and thoughts than we were the day before.

"It is a joyous blessing and gift that gives us hope," Sister Oscarson said. "Without repentance, there is no hope, only despair."

Next Devotional: President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen

The next BYU Devotional address will be given by President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen, on Tuesday, Jan 10, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.

Their remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYU Radio.