Elder Paul V. Johnson
Commissioner of Church Education
On behalf of the Board of Trustees for BYU–Idaho I congratulate you at this special time in recognition of your graduation. Thank you for your diligent efforts over the past few years that have qualified you for this honor. Many thanks also go to your families, and the faculty and other employees who have supported you in your efforts. I also thank the faithful members of the Church whose tithing makes this university possible along with many donors who have generously helped this great institution.
My father received his mission call about a week before Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. By the time he returned from his mission, the war had escalated to a world war that many thought would bring the end of civilization. My mother was at college during these war years when the ratio of women to men on campuses was very skewed since so many of the young men were at war. My parents’ world had drastically and suddenly changed in a very short period of time.
The world has changed significantly since you began your studies. You walk out of the university into a world very different than when you entered. How do you deal with these momentous changes that were not part of your life plan? One of the great advantages of an education from this institution is that you learn how to go forward in a challenging world.
Your future is not determined by the conditions around you or the changes in the world. Your future is determined by your faith, your choices, and your efforts—not because your faith and choices will eliminate either global or personal pandemics, but because they will invite the Lord to be close to you and help you. If you keep your covenants you will have access to the inspiration and power you need to triumph over any challenge with which you are faced.
I am grateful for my parents who, in the face of a very challenging world, stayed true to their faith and moved forward with their lives, trusting in the Lord and His promises to them. By taking this approach to life, the challenges of the times allowed the Lord to shape them. Their faith and determination to keep their covenants has been a great blessing to their descendants. There are well over 200 of those descendants now, and the number is growing rapidly. The Lord does consecrate our afflictions for our gain when we are faithful. 
“Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly.”  Notice this scripture says that “all things shall work together for your good”— all things. Even the challenging, troubling, and difficult things shall (not may— shall) work together for your good.
You have a bright and exciting future ahead of you. It is bright because of your connection with the Light of the World. “He that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”  This promise is not limited by challenges or world events. It is a promise to each individual who receives light and continues in God.
These are your days.  Go forth with the increased knowledge and skills you have attained here. Go forth with the increased testimony and power with which you have been endowed and watch the Lord’s blessings flow to you and to all those who follow Him. Be grateful for the miracles that He performs in your life. And when it is difficult to see the miracles He has performed—or intends to perform—hold on. Our perfect Savior has performed the infinite Atonement, and help is coming. And as you labor to wait, pray to be able to bless others of His children as a sign of your gratitude for the blessings He has already sent into your life, and as a sign of your confidence in Him, as well.
I leave you with the charge the Lord gave to Joshua as he approached his own commencement, facing a very different world as he prepared to take the children of Israel into the promised land: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” 
May the Lord bless and strengthen you. He will.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 See 2 Nephi 2:2.
 Doctrine and Covenants 90:24.
 Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.
 See Helaman 7:9.
 Joshua 1:9.
Be Strong and of a Good Courage
Audio of Elder Paul V. Johnson's spring 2020 commencement address