PROVO, Utah — Tyler J. Griffin said he's the first to admit he doesn’t have all the answers about life.
“I want to talk about things as they really are — the muddy mortality,” the BYU professor of ancient scripture said during his Education Week course at Brigham Young University on Tuesday. “Not the clean, neatly packaged distinctly right and wrong world that we sometimes wished we lived in.”
Throughout the history of the world, Griffin continued, three questions have been universal among mankind when they feel distant from heaven:
- What in the world is happening to me?
Griffin advised listeners wrestling with these questions to re-evaluate their relationship with God.
“Step one, when heaven feels distant, don’t think that God is giving everybody else all the answers and just withholding them from you,” he said.
Drawing on experiences from friends, family and his study of the life of Jesus Christ, Griffin reminded listeners that challenges are not unique to this day.
“Everyone faces it, but nobody more so than he who is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” he said.
Analyzing the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Griffin discussed the moment in the New Testament when the Savior was brought before Pontius Pilate and crucified in exchange for Barabbas, who was a murderer and a thief.
“I don’t know about you, but all growing up, every time I would hear or read this story, I’d get these angry feelings inside of my heart for Barabbas. I didn’t like this guy,” he said.
But according to Griffin, the word “Barabbas,” when translated, means “son of the father,” and the professor said he now finds he relates to the biblical character.
“The older I’ve become, the more I’ve realized that I’m Barabbas,” he said. “That’s my story. That’s me. That’s you. I’m guilty. And yet Jesus was innocent.”
Internalizing the suffering of Jesus Christ can bring individuals closer to God and enable them to endure trials, Griffin said. Studying the challenges of prophets in the scriptures can also be a source of strength.
“Can any of you think of a single scripture character that started out on their journey knowing exactly what God wanted them to do, how he was going to help them accomplish it and why they needed to do it?” he asked the audience.
Stating that not even the prophets had all the answers to difficulties they encountered, Griffin encouraged listeners to trust in Jesus Christ during their personal struggles.
“I don’t have an answer for why you’re going through all the things you’re going through,” Griffin said. “I don’t know and I don’t understand most of the time, but I know God lives. I know Jesus is the Christ. And I know that they are Gods of power and love and justice and mercy ... they will help us to become the most joyful and the most productive and the most happy we can possibly be throughout eternity.”