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What if our souls hungered and sought after righteousness with Enos's “all in” mentality?, Brother Jacob T., April 21, 2024

Theme: “My soul hungered”

Like many of you here I was inspired by the recent general

conference. We heard so many uplifting messages from great men and

women who I look up to. One of the highlights was hearing from Elder

Uchtdorf, who is one of the most inspiring speakers. He mentioned that he

gets complaints when his talks don’t have anything to do with aviation. This

was his justification to give yet another great talk using aviation stories and

themes. Writers are often given the advice to “write what you know”.

Veronica makes fun of me for always talking about cancer, but I’m just

trying to follow Elder Uchtdor’s example.

I want to start by telling you about a patient of mine who I’ll call Mary.

Mary is a woman in her 70s who never had any major health issues her

whole life. About a year ago she saw her dentist because she was having

tooth pain and some of her top teeth were falling out. The dentist was

surprised to find it was a tumor growing in her maxillary sinus into the

mandible, pushing some of her top molars out. She underwent surgery,

then endured over 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments. Unfortunately,

despite all of this the cancer returned within a few months, and now it had

spread down into her neck. Her surgeon couldn’t do anything, so she was

referred to see me, the medical oncologist. The day I met her she came to

the clinic distraught, along with her husband and two daughters joining via

Zoom. The whole family was emotional and pleading for help facing this

horrible situation.

As a medical oncologist, I encounter situations like this on a regular

basis. I see people not only dealing with physical health problems, but also

the mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges that come along with

fighting cancer.

This year while reading the book of Enos, the 3rd and 4th verses

particularly stood out to me. “Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests;

and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal

life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart. 4 And my soul

hungered...” I’ve heard this phrase before, but this time reading I thought

more about what Enos may have meant when he said his soul hungered. I

thought about encounters with cancer patients like I just described. When

facing something as devastating as cancer, people and whole families are

forced to consider their mortality. I believe physical challenges like cancer

can cause our souls to hunger. People naturally have the desire to keep

living and fight for their lives to continue. I’ve found that when people go

through this process, they are more willing to do what doctors recommend.

Our souls are facing similarly serious threats every day. We all face

different challenges. It may be personal weaknesses, addiction, broken

family relationships, guilt, depression, anxiety. Whatever the spiritual

challenge we are facing, our souls hunger for spiritual nourishment. The

Savior says in 3 Nephi 12:6 - “And blessed are all they who do hunger and

thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” If we

focus our spiritual hunger to righteous desires, we can be blessed with the

fruits of the spirit, which are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,

goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance”.

Back to the story of my patient, Mary. I met with her and her family,

and we created a personalized treatment plan using state of the art tumor

genomic testing and immunotherapy treatment. In the chemotherapy era, I

would have told Mary and her family that there was no known cure, and the

best we could do was to try to prolong her life with harsh chemicals.

Immunotherapy treatments help to restore the natural power of the body’s

immune system to fight the cancer. The power to kill the cancer is already

within us, but we need the help of the medication to overcome the

obstacles put in place by the cancer. Shortly after beginning her treatments,

Mary’s tumors melted away. She no longer required pain medication. She

and her family could not believe it! The next time I saw her, I could see that

instead of fear and anxiety, she and her family were starting to have hope

that she still had a chance to live. Over the following months she got better

and better, and CT scans eventually showed that there was no trace of

cancer detectable. I just saw her a couple of weeks ago, and she is filled

with a new zest for life. She told me how grateful she was that she could

spend time with her grandchildren, and that sometimes she forgets that she

was ever a cancer patient. She thanks me every time I see her for this

miracle that has saved her. I tell her every time that I take no credit for what

has happened to her, and I am just thrilled to get to witness such a miracle.

I wish this was the outcome for all of my patients, but unfortunately we still

have a lot to learn in the fight against cancer and this miracle only happens

in the small majority.

Brothers and Sisters, in the battle for our souls, we all have access to

a saving miracle, the atonement of Jesus Christ. Just like in the fight

against cancer, we cannot face all of our spiritual challenges alone. We can

turn to our family, our friends, our fellow church members, or church


Physical hunger is a powerful driving force. I feel blessed that I have

not experienced true hunger due to lack of access to food. The closest I’ve

felt to real hunger is fasting for two meals. While I’m fasting I often find my

mind drifting to think about what I’m going to eat for dinner that day, or I

might be tempted to steal a few goldfish crackers from Ian. We’re blessed

to live in a time of abundance, but it can be a struggle to know what food is

healthy for our bodies. There is a lot of food that can satisfy our hunger

without actually providing the nourishment we need. Similarly, there are

things that can calm our spiritual hunger temporarily but not provide the

true spiritual nourishment we need. In 2 Nephi chapter 9, the prophet Jacob

teaches us to “feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be

corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness”. We live in a time of endless

distractions. Entertainment, music, video games, social media, and many

other distractions may distract us from our spiritual hunger temporarily. If

we are not careful, all of our time can be spent on these distractions, and

we can feel like we don’t have time for the Lord in our lives. I again think

about people facing the threat of cancer like my patient Mary. When I first

met her, her soul hungered for relief so much that she was “all in” to fight

and overcome her challenge. What if our souls hungered and sought after

righteousness with this same “all in” mentality? What would we do

differently? How would we prioritize our time? What sorts of things would

we do to nourish ourselves spiritually?

I’m grateful for the opportunity to prepare this talk and think deeply on

this subject.


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