President Kevin J. Worthen and his wife, Peggy S. Worthen, kept with tradition Tuesday and presented the first devotional of the semester at Brigham Young University.

Both recognized that these are interesting times, as apparent from each speaking in an empty Marriott Center due to COVID-19 concerns.

“As we start the year, we face some challenges and problems that have never been encountered before on this campus – as evidenced by the unique setting and format for this devotional,” Kevin J. Worthen said. “The circumstances in both the world — and our personal lives — sometimes seem daunting and difficult, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Each of us may wonder from time to time, why we have to deal with such challenges and problems.”

President Worthen used the legendary story of Pandora’s Jar (now known as a box) and hope being held still inside the jar as the introduction to the importance of having hope.

He shared an excerpt from the Book of Mormon in the book of Alma Chapter 22 where Aaron, the missionary son of King Mosiah teaches the King of the Lamanites how to receive hope.

“Aaron told the King, ‘if thou desirest … and call on [Christ’s] name in faith, believing ... then shall thou receive the hope which thou desirest.”

Worthen noted that, “first the King had to exercise his agency by desiring to believe – by choosing to hope that the joy and blessings about which Aaron had testified were really possible. He then needed to pray for spiritual confirmation. The spiritual assurance he received as a result of his prayer, which was faith — then engendered a deeper kind of hope, a ‘more excellent hope’.”

Worthen encouraged the students to have, and develop, hope and then shared four of his hopes for the students and the coming year.

  • I hope each of you stays safe and healthy. We are in the midst of a pandemic, and that requires that we do some things differently. Most importantly, we must each be willing to adhere to the safety guidelines and directions to which each of you has agreed to comply.
  • Second, I hope each of you discovers — or rediscovers — the joy of discovery — that you more fully experience the enlightenment and energy that comes from learning truth through study and faith.
  • Third, I hope each of you feels fully a part of the BYU community — that every one of you will feel you belong here at BYU. I hope that we can each develop a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of all of God’s children, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or other distinguishing feature, each of which is secondary to our common identity as beloved spirit children of heavenly parents.
  • Fourth, and most important, I hope that in the coming year each of you can feel in greater measure God’s love for you individually. His love for you is perfect – not because you are perfect, not because you got admitted to BYU, not because you aced a test, not because your parents are proud of you – but because you are you — and you are his.

Peggy S. Worthen spoke of faith and courage and offered up the Old Testament story of the spies Moses sent to discover what they could about the land of Canaan. Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua showed great faith and courage while others did not. Because of this courage, although more than 45 years later, Caleb was allowed to enter the promised land.

Peggy S. Worthen suggested four things in her talk to help students develop Caleb-like faith and courage.

  • First and foremost, we need to always remember to turn to Heavenly Father and be willing to submit to him. He loves us. He will help us. He will increase our faith and fill us with a brightness of hope.
  • Second, remember the importance of daily, meaningful scripture study.
  • Third, look for opportunities to serve. A kind word or deed, or an envelope full of hearts, not only lifts the recipient but is a miraculous healing balm for the giver.
  • And finally, don’t be afraid to share your difficult and extraordinary experiences with others. They can inspire and encourage you; and you will find that often you can inspire and encourage them.

“I have great faith in you. More importantly God has great faith in you. You are not here by chance,” Peggy S. Worthen said. “You have accomplished much already in your young lives.”

Peggy S. Worthen told students, you can do more, much more if you will face your challenges with Caleb-like faith, courage and optimism.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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