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BYU-Idaho President's Report

Feb 2020

President Henry J. Eyring giving a devotional address at BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring

Rising Above Opposition

(An excerpt from President Henry J. Eyring’s devotional on September 24, 2019)

From the beginning of this world, the daughters and sons of our Heavenly Father have faced stiff opposition. Adam and Eve, our first parents, experienced almost unimaginable trials and sorrows. Likewise, the early prophets, including Noah, Abraham, and Moses, were similarly beset by opposition.

So was Elijah, who stood alone against the so-called prophets of Baal. Elijah was given unusual power over earthly elements. His miracles included raising a boy from the dead, invoking a three-year drought, and calling down fire from heaven to consume unrighteous priests. Elijah’s last miracle was to be taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire.

Watching at that moment was meek Elisha, who had served as Elijah’s junior missionary companion for some six years. Elisha worried terribly about filling Elijah’s shoes, enough so that he asked for a double portion of his master’s spirit (see 2 Kings 2:9). Elijah replied conditionally, saying: “Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10).

Providentially, Elisha had the gift of spiritual sight, which allowed him to see Elijah taken up (see 2 Kings 2:11–12). This gift of sight also allowed Elisha to subtly minister to people who tended to be overlooked. Calling on the powers of heaven, he ministered to the thirsty and hungry and diseased. Miracles such as extending the life of a meager supply of food may seem small compared to Elijah’s. In fact, some people of that time might have passed them off as products of human resourcefulness, lucky timing, or natural events.

But Elisha’s gift of spiritual sight was real, and each of us can develop it. Miracles are most likely to come when we are selflessly, humbly serving others. The faith nurtured in us this way will build our confidence in Heavenly Father’s power to lift and strengthen us beyond our natural abilities.

The key principle to remember is the one Elijah taught Elisha: “If you see it.” Some people naturally have this kind of spiritual eyesight. In particular, many children have it, perhaps because of subtle memories of the premortal existence. Nevertheless, life and its disappointments tend to create spiritual myopia and even temporary blindness. If we are at all doubtful or cynical, our hearts can harden and our desire to see spiritual realities becomes diminished.

I know of no better way to develop and retain Elisha’s gift of sight than by keeping personal records, especially written ones. It’s easier and more rewarding than you might think. You don’t need formal training in writing. And you don’t have to write every day or capture all of any one day’s events. I’ve found it useful to focus on just a few notable events and feelings, especially those in which heaven’s hand could be felt or seen.

Moreover, you don’t have to be strictly true to reality. In fact, one of the blessings of journal keeping is the opportunity to think critically about what really has happened during your day. By habit, I try to be slightly more optimistic and generous than an unbiased observer would be. In particular, I’m predisposed to give others the benefit of the doubt. It helps to see their good intentions and to congratulate them on their efforts, even if the outcomes aren’t extraordinary. You can recognize the opposition they face and portray them in glowing, even heroic terms.

I would encourage you to do the same for yourself. Take credit for what you have learned as you acted, not necessarily the way things turned out. See the would-be hero in yourself. Give yourself credit for acts of kindness and moments of courage. And look for the subtle charms of daily events. Make the weather a little milder and the scenery a bit prettier.

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