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While living in Christchurch, New Zealand, BYU Associate Academic Vice President Alan Harker was surprised to see boats heading out of the harbor just as a devastating storm was entering, he said at the Devotional on Tuesday.

Alan Harker
Credit: Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo

"This was entirely counterintuitive to someone of my limited experience," Harker said. "I would have thought that my boat would be safest in a picturesque harbor, tucked into a deep-water inlet in the hollow of an ancient volcano, behind a sizable rock jetty."

However, the boats that left the harbor were the vessels that were able to successfully weather the storm by heading to sea and dropping anchor. There was a lesson in understanding that it was the anchor that created the stability – and thereby the hope – to keep the boats upright despite the storm, said Harker.

"In the storms that will descend on our seemingly safe harbor of home, family, church and career, real hope grants us stability, affirms our orientation and allows us to steer through those troubled waters with measured progress," Harker said.


In order to allow hope to be an anchor to our lives, Harker said, we need to acknowledge that storms and challenges are a required part of our progression.

"The greatest learning opportunities come in that chaos and confusion of a failed experiment, a clash of ideas, in moments of doubt," he said. "It comes in the recognition that we do not know all things, that our preconceived notions are perhaps incorrect, and that the acquisition of knowledge is not a matter of memorizing facts and figures."

While challenging, these great learning experiences can help us gain more hope, strength and valuable experience, Harker said.

As we traverse round after round of this spiritual learning cycle, we gain experience in the application of our faith, experience in waiting on the Lord, experience in being obedient, experience in understanding His ways, experience in being blessed, experience in feeling the quiet whisperings of the Spirit, experience in feeling our Savior’s love for us and all of God’s children. In each new experience, we fashion a new anchor of hope that we plant firmly around us.

If you missed Harker's remarks, the Devotional can be streamed on and will be archived on

Next Devotional: Michelle Stott James, College of Humanities German and Russian Department Chair

The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Michelle Stott James on Tuesday, June 21, at 11:05 a.m., in the de Jong Concert Hall.

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