Andrew Jackson – One man with courage makes a majority.
I would like to take just a few minutes to address the youth of the world – those who are destined to someday be great leaders, and who will make their ineradicable mark upon the world through their ingenuity, intellectualism, influence, and zealousness. If there were but one message that I could impart to the youth, it would be simply this – Be Bold, Be Courageous, Be Strong.
Webster defines the word “courage” as the ability to conquer fear. The word “bold” is defined as courageous. Therefore, one who has courage is also bold. Theodore Roosevelt once said:
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught:
After we have done all we could do for the cause of truth, and withstood the evil that men have brought upon us, and we have been overwhelmed by their wrongs, it is still our duty to stand. We cannot give up. We must not lie down. Great causes are not won in a single generation. To stand firm in the face of overwhelming opposition, when you have done all you can, is the courage of faith. The courage of faith is the courage of progress. Men who possess that divine quality go on; they are not permitted to stand still if they would. They are not simply the creatures of their own power and wisdom; they are the instrumentality of a higher law and divine purpose (Gospel Doctrine, p. 119).
As you journey down the highways of life you will without a doubt encounter obstacles along the way. Some of these obstacles may seem insurmountable, but take heart, for you will overcome them. In order for you to overcome the obstacles that you will face, you will be required to have courage. Courage to make decisions – sometimes at a moment’s notice. Courage to say yes. Courage to say no. Courage to be able to stand in the face of adversity for that which you know to be right, even when being right means being unpopular. No matter what the consequences, you must always have the moral courage to stand your ground for what you know to be the truth. Don’t give in or compromise to be friends with those who you know are wrong. President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval” (Ensign, Thomas S. Monson, “Courage Counts,” November 1986, p.41). If your friends laugh at you, ridicule you, despise or even reject you, take heart, be courageous and STAND. And having done all as the Apostle Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 6:13 – STAND. Remember, even the Savior Himself was mocked, jeered, ridiculed, spat upon, and rejected.
When I think of being courageous, I am reminded of such stories in the scriptures as the account of Daniel whose very name means “God is my judge.” In Daniel 2, you will recall that king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that disturbed him greatly. He called upon the magicians, astrologers, and the Chaldeans to recall and interpret the dream or else they would be put to death. None of them were able to fulfill the king’s commands. This made him furious and he commanded that all of the wise men of Babylon were to be destroyed. Daniel, who is in prison at this time, asks that he might be given a little time and he would show the king the interpretation of his dream. The secret of the king’s dream is revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Daniel goes in before the king, recalls, and interprets the dream. Because of Daniel’s courage, the wise men of Babylon were saved from execution, the king’s dream was interpreted, and Daniel was rewarded with great gifts and was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel’s three companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also given charge over the affairs of the province of Babylon.
I also think of the courage and boldness of those three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who in spite of the king’s command to bow down and worship the golden image that he had created, stood firm for what they knew was the right thing to do, even if it meant death in the fiery furnace. The king ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. Because of the intensity of the heat, the men that put the three Hebrew children into the furnace perished. However, because of their great courage, boldness, and trust that God would deliver them from their situation, they were unharmed by the flames. Not even the hair on their heads was singed, nor were their clothes burned. The king saw what great faith these three Hebrew children had, issued a decree that anyone who spoke against the God of the Hebrew children would be destroyed, and the three were promoted in the province of Babylon. (See Daniel 3)
I am also reminded of the incident that occurred at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado on 24 February 2010. I am sure that most of you can recall the events that took place on that dreadful day. During that ordeal the perpetrators started taunting some of the kids by asking them if they believed in God. One brave girl stood up and said, “I believe in Jesus!” She was immediately gunned down in cold blood for her faith. I cannot help but wonder how many of us would have been that courageous, that bold, if we were the ones in that same situation. Her death was indeed tragic, but her testimony was everlasting. The scriptures warn us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). You may never have to deal with situations quite like these, but there will be many situations that you will face that will require you to be both courageous and bold.
You are going to face many challenges in life. There will be times when you are tasked to do some things that may seem impossible for you to do, or that go against the grain of your moral fiber. In your own limited strength and wisdom, those tasks may very well be impossible for you to accomplish, but just remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). There is no situation that you may find yourself in, no crisis that may come your way, no heartache that you may bear, no trial that you may face, no obstacle that you may have to overcome, that Christ will not give you the strength to endure if you will but put your full trust in Him and be obedient to His commands and His will for your lives.
May I conclude my remarks with the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Ephesians 6:10-18:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
My humble prayer for you this day is that you will grow to be courageous, bold and strong in the Lord. I also pray that you will “Fight the good fight, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). For “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:38).