Trust in the Lord
Mark B. Woodruff
Assistant to the Commissioner of the Church Educational System & Secretary to the Boards
Brothers and sisters, aloha. I am pleased to be here with you today on this beautiful campus to celebrate with you your graduation from BYU–Hawaii. This day of commencement marks a beginning as you consider the many opportunities that are—or will soon be—available to you. If your options are not yet what you had hoped or worked for, please be patient, and know that Heavenly Father will bless you for your diligence as you place your trust in Him. With this and all other decisions, you should “trust in the Lord with all [your] heart; and lean not unto [your] own understanding."1
Trusting in the Lord is not always easy, especially when the solution to a given problem is not readily grasped by our limited, mortal understanding. Many times, our finite minds can only foresee what we believe will be the expected outcome to a crisis or challenge. Because of that, it can be difficult to concede that an alternative outcome is possible with Heavenly Father’s help. He knows our destinies and our potential. It is sometimes challenging, though, to exhibit sufficient faith that He will not forsake us.2 We tend to rely on our own understanding when what we really should be doing is seeking to know the will of the Lord.
While serving as a mission president in Brazil, I was blessed by the example of a missionary who trusted in the Lord during a particularly challenging family situation. His response to this challenge would have immediate consequences on his mission and far-reaching repercussions for his future as a member of the Lord’s Church. This good elder, whose parents had been in opposition to their son’s service as a missionary, was summoned home during the first few months of his mission because his father became terminally ill. Before he left to go home, this elder was determined that he would return to his mission. However, he knew that once he went home, the pressure he would receive from his family to stay with them would be intense.
After several weeks at home, his father passed away, and, as he had anticipated, his mother asked him not to return to the mission. After much prayer and fasting, he made the difficult decision to go back to his mission and to trust that the Lord would take care of his mother, while at the same time softening her feelings toward the Church. For many months, she chose not to have any contact with her son. But near the end of his mission, she finally reestablished communication with him.
This elder did not foresee this positive conclusion to his trial, especially while he served faithfully for so many months without receiving any correspondence from home. He put his faith and trust in God rather than rely on his own understanding. I know that as you put your trust in the Lord with any temporal, family, or spiritual challenges you face, you too will be blessed with the guidance necessary to be truly successful in life.
Trusting in the Lord does not guarantee that the outcome of a trial or challenge will happen in the way we would like it to turn out. We receive God’s blessings in our lives as we pray that His will be done, not our own, as our Savior did throughout his ministry.3 Doing so requires great faith, especially during particularly arduous challenges.
A man of great faith and trust in God was Jonathan Napela, an influential early Hawaiian convert of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was trained as a lawyer and served as a judge, but he was compelled to resign from his position after his conversion to the gospel. However, his talents quickly became a blessing to the Church as he helped George Q. Cannon with the translation of the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language.
When Jonathan was about 60 years of age, his wife, Kitty, contracted leprosy. She was sent to the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka’i. Not wanting his wife to go there by herself, Jonathan went with her to provide his love and support. While he was there, he was called as branch president, where he ministered to many struggling individuals in the colony. Brother Napela eventually contracted leprosy himself and died shortly before his wife did.4
Jonathan Napela’s life of courage, conviction, and absolute trust in the Lord—even when he was confronted with overwhelming challenges and possible personal harm—blessed the lives of not only his wife but of many others living in Kalaupapa. Had he relied upon his own understanding and reason, he likely would have missed a tremendous opportunity to serve and bless the lives of others.
There are those in the world who would say that his trust in the Lord was to no avail because he died prematurely from leprosy. However, God’s ways are not man’s ways; they are always higher than man’s ways.5 Jonathan’s trust in God was surely rewarded, as promised by the psalmist: “They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever”.6 As you strive to do that which is right before God, you too will be as mount Zion, steadfast and immovable. You will abide in God’s grace forever. Your life will be blessed in more ways than you can envision—even blessings in disguise will be yours because of your humble obedience to do God’s will.
Another inspiring example of trusting in the Lord is found in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In one of many examples throughout his life, Joseph refused to deny his testimony of his First Vision. Although he suffered greatly for sharing his experience with others, Joseph was determined to remain true to the things he had seen and heard. He said:
"I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; . . . why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen?"7
The extreme persecution Joseph experienced was not sufficient to turn him away from the trust he had placed in the Lord, “but undaunted, still he trusted In his Heav’nly Father’s care”.8
To be undaunted means to be “determined and not afraid to [do] something, even though it might be difficult”.9 Brothers and sisters, as you leave BYU–Hawaii, there will be situations in your life that will test the trust you have placed in your Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you willing to be undaunted in your resolve to trust in the promptings you receive through the Holy Ghost? Or will you, in times of discouragement and difficulty, lean unto your own understanding? As you place your trust in Heavenly Father’s care, you will receive more blessings in your life than you can possibly comprehend. Your life will be rich and full, and you will be truly successful. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
 Proverbs 3:5
 see Hebrews 13:5
 see Matthew 26:42
 see Fred E. Woods, Kalaupapa: The Mormon Experience in an Exiled Community [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017], 34–43
 see Isaiah 55:8–9
 Psalm 125:1
 Joseph Smith—History 1:25
 “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer,” Hymns, 2002, no. 26
 Macmillan Dictionary, s.v. “undaunted,” macmillandictionary.com