Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sabbath Lessons

I heard a very interesting quote today that stirred up many thoughts in me. The quote was, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity". My interpretation of this is; when we have difficulties, then is the time God can show us His hand in our lives.

There is a famous pioneer handcart story about two companies (Willie and Martin Handcart Companies) that started their journey too late in the winter and suffered starvation, frozen limbs and more before being recued by those who had already arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. My great, great, grandfather was part of that rescue effort. Years later some people were discussing that incident, and even became critical of church leaders who allowed the companies to start so late in the winter. I quote from a talk by Gordon B. Hinckley, "One 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 will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.

“He said in substance, ‘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. A 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 and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there too. 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? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church because every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities."

The scriptures are full of verses that remind us that our Savior is the one sure source of peace in troubled times. Even through the greatest trials, He can give us the "peace of God which passeth all understanding" Phil. 4:7 He pleads to us, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28 He truly has been "a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall." (Isaiah 25:4)

The peace spoken of doesn't necessarily come with a solution to our problems. A person's cancer might not go in to remission. The divorce might go ahead as planned. We might not get relief from a physical illness or ailment. Sometimes we have to experience negative things in this life. But even in the midst of trials, we can pray and receieve an assurance that God lives. He loves us and knows us individually. The Holy Spirit is often referred to in the scriptures as "the comforter". We can receive that comfort from God.

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