While faith in God is waning throughout society, everyone must choose whether faith as an enduring place in our own lives, said Elder Larry Y. Wilson, of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the Devotional on Tuesday in the Marriott Center.
The way to find our own faith could be inspired by a trip through the wardrobe to Narnia or on a quest to destroy the evil One Ring.
In his address, Elder Wilson told the story of how the terrible effects of World War I and II created a generation filled with disillusionment and cynicism. However, two works of literature – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – seemed to go against the despair of the time. Those two works can teach much about finding faith amidst darkness Elder Wilson said:
Following the war, Lewis and Tolkien went on to become university professors. They taught a generation of students struggling to make sense of the world at a time when faith was openly questioned… Having come through this period with their own faith intact, they had a message for the next generation. The horrors of war had not manifest to them that faith in God had failed, but rather that faith must be viewed in its proper setting. That proper setting was the fallen world where those who have the precious gift of faith must fight for good against the combined forces of an enemy bent on their destruction.
Regardless of the pain and struggles we feel in our everyday life, we can find hope in the Savior, Elder Wilson said.
"We can sometimes forget exactly what the great hope of Christianity is," he said. "It is not that Jesus Christ will fulfill all of our own natural aspirations for happiness, but it is hope in a triumphant future that only God can and will provide."
Often the challenge comes in how we frame ourselves and our circumstances, Elder Wilson said. Either we are the Lord's servants or we imagine that the story is all about us. This trap leads us to think that Christ will make all our dreams come true.
"You too find yourself in a world of conflict between good and evil," he said. "You too must decide what part you will play… We must accept God's will for our lives even when we don't fully understand it.
At times, Elder Wilson said, it might be tempting to believe that there isn't one true path.
"There is a story line to this world's history," he said. "It is an epic tale. It involves a True King who is hidden from the world's sight for a time while his kingdom is ruled over by a wicked pretender to the throne, a cruel despot who seeks to rule by war, blood and horror."
Despite the terror, we do have many reasons to have hope, Elder Wilson said.
"The True King has true followers, humble servants who are able to see through all the lies and deceptions of the enemy, and who seek to build allegiance to the True King," he said. "They seek to prepare a people who will be ready to receive Him when He comes in glory and defeats the false king, rewarding those who are looking forward to his coming."
If you missed Elder Wilson's address, you can watch it on BYUtv.org.
Next Week's Forum: Bonnie Brinton Anderson, Marriott School
The next BYU Devotional address will be held on Tuesday, December 8, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.
Bonnie Brinton Anderson, associate professor in the Information Systems Department of the Marriott School of Management, will give the Devotional address.
Her remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYU Radio.