Friday, April 23, 2010
What Happened to Spring???
Isn't that just a little bit like life? You make plans, you prepare, you learn, and some trial (read little bit of snow!) comes along just at the moment when you think were starting to look forward toward the spring.
In the trials, the hurts, and the pain of life, we pass through the refiner’s fire, and the things that are not important in our lives can melt away, leaving our faith bright and strong. In this way, we become more acquainted with our Heavenly Father. In our heartaches, we seem to listen better to the faint whisperings of His Spirit.
Into each one of our lives there comes adversity and suffering. Even the faithful are not spared their season of trial. The Apostle Paul referred to his own challenge: “ … there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” 2 Cor 12:7
The thorns that hurt our very hearts, are often the very things that change our lives. We become closer to our Heavenly Father as we go through the refining process which often seems harder than we would wish. In this way, can our very souls be molded to become more like His. Through the fires of adversity, our faith can be strengthened and we can become closer to Him. Moroni testified, “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:6
One of my very favorite pioneer stories is about the Martin-Harris handcart company. James E Faust recites the story as President McKay told it. He tells about an incident that happened years after the trek was over.
“A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.”
Then President McKay quoted an observer who was present in that class: “Some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.
“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism?
“ ‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’ ”
He continued: “ ‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“ ‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’ ” (Ensign, 2006, Refined by our Trials)
Many of us would wish, as I have today, that life could be full of spring. That we would have no winter to endure, no thorns in our flesh, or handcarts to push. We would wish that we could have faith and testimony without the trials, that we could have the strength never to make mistakes without the tests. That the winter could finally, completely, be over.
But we can take comfort in the fact that we are never truly alone. A loving Father walks with us and pushes the handcart for us. We can rejoice in the knowledge that when our trial is complete, we will stand on the path of right with a surer step and we will be a little (or even a lot) closer to being what He wants us to be.