“Now we have a world where people are confused. If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news.”
President Henry J. Eyring sang the familiar children’s primary song to students at BYU-Idaho during the first devotional address of 2019. He and Sister Kelly C. Eyring exhorted students to remember to be optimistic even though the world displays negative messages.
Sister Eyring started off by remarking on how wonderful it is to be able to see the stars at night here in Rexburg, Idaho. During their time as a family in Japan, she said she couldn’t ever see the stars. Her gratitude for such a seemingly small thing demonstrated the characteristic of optimism.
“I think that we all have the opportunity to face everything that we enjoy in this life either with optimism or fear or trepidation… I really want to send the message that we can choose,” Sister Eyring said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio. She expressed that starting a new semester can be hard, especially for new students, but because of the Savior we can always be positive.
She quoted John 16:33 in her address, which says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
She invited all listening to write in their personal journals or notebooks about the gratitude they feel to their Father in Heaven for the gift of the Savior and the ability to see the stars. She also encouraged the students to write down the hopes they have for the new semester.
President Eyring commented about journal writing in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, “It’s an opportunity to look at parts of the day that were most blessed.”
For those individuals who struggle with keeping a journal, President Eyring suggested starting in a way that is doable for that person. That may mean only once a week instead of every day, but it is important to start somewhere.
In his address, President Eyring spoke of the negative messages that permeate our news feeds every day.
“Based on news media reports and other messages received each day, we might naturally conclude that the world is becoming increasingly wicked and hostile,” he said.
To contrast what the world would have everyone believe, President Eyring reminded us that along with the troubling times, there are many great aspects to the time in which we live.
He quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who said, “There never was a greater time in the history of the world to live upon the earth than this. How grateful every one of us ought to feel for being alive in this wonderful time with all the marvelous blessings we have.”
Among the many blessings of our time, the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, increased liberty, technological advances, decreases in disease, and many more were mentioned.
President Eyring shared a story about a Soviet fleet officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This simple officer, Vasili Arkhipov, made a historically altering decision when aboard a nuclear submarine. During a time when tensions were high, right before President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita
Khrushchev called for the removal of nuclear weapons from Turkey and Cuba, he had a decision to make.
The submarine he was on wanted to fire a nuclear torpedo. He refused to give his approval because he had seen for himself the devastation that radiation could cause. Once the submarine surfaced they realized that war had not broken out. Vasili’s decision prevented that from happening and the loss of many lives.
President Eyring pointed out that the news didn’t cover that part of the story, and it isn’t very well known. Such it is with the news today. Positive stories about the good in humanity are often left out in favor of darker things.
Thus, all of us need to pay attention to the headlines that remain unwritten. President Eyring encouraged everyone to bask in the light of the gospel and to spread that in our spheres of influence. By remaining positive, the world will fade into the abyss of endless distractions that no longer receive attention.
“Miracles are occurring,” he said, “not only at the level of governments and scientific discoveries but also in individual daily lives.”