Elder Ballard Speaks about Finding Courage to Face Trials
Contributed By By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
By looking to the past, individuals can find courage to face the trials of today, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught during the Ogden Pioneer Days Devotional held in the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State University on Sunday, July 15, 2012.
“We owe them much and must never forget that the success of today was built upon the shoulders and the courage of the giants of the past,” he said.
Speaking of faithful pioneers, Elder Ballard said: “It is good to reflect on the work of those that labored so hard and gained so little. But out of those dreams and early plans so well nurtured has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries.”
Drawing from the history of Ogden, Utah, and the early days of the Church, Elder Ballard said those were years of great testing. Many of those pioneers were able “to survive the almost insurmountable trials crossing the plains and establishing the Church in the Rocky Mountains, all because of their great faith. ...
“It wasn’t just those who were leaders who had faith enough to follow Brigham Young to this barren desert,” he said. “Many very ordinary but brave Church members as well as those of other faiths came.”
It is their example of perseverance that Church members must look to and emulate today, Elder Ballard said.
“Many of you here tonight have your own family pioneer history that fills your heart with love and appreciation for them,” he said. “Some here tonight may not have a pioneer [who came] to Utah in your history, but you surely have pioneer forefathers in your lives somewhere in the world. As we learn of their ascendency over the trials of life, hopefully it will encourage and inspire us to endure our own struggles with faith and optimism.”
Drawing from stories from his own family history, Elder Ballard shared his love and admiration for such noble and courageous forefathers.
Elder Ballard asked young people to “please learn from the pioneer experiences what real faith and courage it took for those who came to these valleys 165 years ago.”
“Their suffering, along with that of other pioneers, forged a strength in their lives that is passed on to us,” he said. “Packing a few belongings into wagons or handcarts and walking 1,300 miles (2,090 km) isn’t the way most of us will be asked to demonstrate our faith and courage. There are different challenges that we face today—different mountains to climb, different rivers to ford, different valleys to make ‘blossom as the rose' (Isaiah 35:1). But even though the wilderness that we have been given to conquer is decidedly different from the rough and rocky trail to Utah and the barren landscape that our pioneer forebears encountered, it is no less challenging and trying for us than it was for them.”
Elder Ballard continued: “We need to commit to the service of the Lord and our communities with the same diligence and faith that our forefathers did. We must ever be on our guard that we do not become casual in keeping God’s commandments, in abiding by His laws and in being honest and trustworthy in all that we do. We must avoid the entrapments of evil found on the Internet, so readily accessible through our computers, [tablets], and cell phones. If we become casual in these things, Lucifer will find a way to dull our commitment [and] destroy our faith and our love for the Lord and for one another, and we will become lost in the wilderness of the world.
“Avoiding the temptations and evils of the world requires the faith and fortitude of a real modern-day pioneer. As people from all faiths and persuasions we need to walk together as today’s pioneers, living Christlike lives, supporting good causes in our communities, [and] strengthening our families and our homes. ...
“When our belief is confirmed upon our souls by the Spirit of God, faith becomes a causative force in our lives, driving every thought, word and deed heavenward. We pray for strength and guidance with trust—just as they did. That’s what it means to walk with ‘faith in every footstep.’ It was so for our pioneer ancestors, and it must be so for us today. We must instill in our children and grandchildren the same spirit that drove the footsteps of those whom we celebrate tonight.”