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'Fear not,' says Elder Cook to LDS young adults

Speaking on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Elder Quentin L. Cook counseled young adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the world to “fear not.”

“The world literally seems to be in commotion,” said Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “There is a level of contention that is unprecedented. Peace of mind and feelings of security can seem elusive and even unobtainable. My message to you this evening is that we should not have fear even in a dangerous and troubled world.”

Participating in a worldwide devotional for young adults, Elder Cook assured the congregation that they “can have complete joy because of the Savior.”

The meeting — which originated in the Washington, D.C., Stake Center, adjacent to the Washington, D.C., Temple — was translated and broadcast across the globe. Elder Cook’s wife, Sister Mary G. Cook, also addressed the young adults.

Elder Cook began his remarks by speaking of his oldest son, who was living just three blocks from the World Trade Center in New York City 15 years ago when terrorists attacked the United States.

“My purpose this evening is not to have you dwell on terrible events from the past,” said Elder Cook, noting that he wanted to emphasize joyful events.

“But I also want to help you contemplate the trials, tribulations and dangers that you either face, or fear you will face in your individual lives.”

As a result, he said he would address three types of events — those that involve physical dangers, those that involve special challenges and those that involve spiritual dangers and challenges.

Physical dangers or challenges

“Regardless of how or where you access your daily news, physical dangers, violence and tragedy are the first reported,” Elder Cook said.

Church members knew before they came to earth that the exercise of agency could result in opposition and conflict, he said. “We knew that in addition to war and violence there would be significant sinful conduct across the entire world. We also knew that Jesus Christ was willing to pay the price for these sins.”

Special challenges

“As young adults, in addition to physical challenges, you have special challenges and some are unique to your day,” he said. “You are concerned about decisions relating to education, employment, marriage and family.”

Elder Cook spoke to the young adults about how they will plan and prepare to achieve worthwhile goals in today’s world, and the impact of the internet and social media on their righteous goals.

“I am particularly concerned about how many young adults fail to set righteous goals or have a plan to achieve them,” he said. “I am also concerned that many underestimate and devalue their own talents and capabilities. Resolving these two issues will bring much joy into your life.”

Elder Cook said the internet and social media ­­contribute much good to modern society, but can also distract people from accomplishing their true calling in mortal life.

“My earnest plea is that all of us will evaluate how and when we use the internet and social media. … I also want to leave you with one additional thought on this subject,” he said. “We hear a lot about being authentic in social media. Being sincerely Christlike is an even more important goal than being authentic.”

Spiritual challenges

One of the most vital responsibilities in this life is to make and keep sacred covenants with God, said Elder Cook. “This requires that we examine unworthy desires and separate ourselves from them.”

In a world where “rewards and trophies are often received for merely participating,” standards and expectations may seem unfair or even cruel, he said.

“Many justify sinful conduct and use as their defense ‘Jesus taught us to love everyone.’ This of course is true, but often those who advocate this position seem inclined to ignore his equally important admonition, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments,’” said Elder Cook. “It is not appropriate for us to negotiate the terms of our relationship with the Godhead.”

During her remarks, Sister Cook told the young adults that the way they feel about themselves determines how successful they will be in their mortal journey. “Our self-esteem is enhanced when certain basic human needs are met,” she said. “I will mention three: the need to be loved, the need to be accepted and the need to succeed or achieve.”

When these human needs are not met, she added, “We feel unloved, unaccepted or unsuccessful.”

Many young people report that they deal with loneliness, she said.

“I think it is important to keep in mind that we are never truly alone,” she said. “The Savior has promised us comfort. … We can be alone, but we do not have to be lonely.”

She told the worldwide congregation: “Regardless of your situation at this present time, find joy in everyday life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up every morning and say: 'I feel loved, I feel accepted and I feel successful.' We can all do this.”

sarah@deseretnews.com, @SJW_ChurchNews