I believe I have mentioned in some previous letters that some of my grandsons have been coming to my home on Saturdays to record my remembrances of different members of my ancestry. This little exercise causes me to reflect upon their tribulations and wonder how they ever endured their trials and emerged as stronger individuals. Just like the saints of old, they did not get to choose the time of their adversity so they could never plan for it. And a number of my ancestors experienced all of the major persecution that we read about in church history. When we read in 2 Timothy 3:12, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," we know that a wise Father is not allowing such a pattern for entertainment.
Consider the words of Elder Orson F. Whiney: "No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God. . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven."
I suppose we all understand that we somehow benefit from the "rough waters" that we encounter in our voyage through life, but this does not make the suffering any less intense. Yet we can rest assured that the Lord never abandons us during our periods of adversity. In fact, just the opposite is true; I love Elder Neal A. Maxwell's expression on the subject: "(God's) grace will cover us like a cloak--enough to provide for survival but too thin to keep out all the cold."
I have often referred to the history of the Martin and Willie handcart companies of 1856. Late in leaving England, they arrived in Iowa City to find supplies severely depleted by other immigrants heading westward at an earlier date. To make matters worse for them, Brigham Young, not knowing of these late arrivals from England, had called in the resupply wagons that had been meeting the other companies in eastern Wyoming with needed assistance.
One delay after another forced the two handcart companies to leave Iowa City about July 15th, knowing that the high terrain through which they would be forced to travel was known to have some early severe weather. But would they be safe because they had exerted their faith already in an effort to come to Zion? Not so.
I know I have cited their experience in previous letters, but I would like you to remember one thing today: their exhibition of faith did not exempt them from trials beyond their imagination. Those who survived were much stronger because of their experiences, and those who were unable to complete the journey certainly inherited a great reward because they demonstrated their being willing to accept the will of the Lord.
Isn't life wonderful! Each day brings a new experience (even for a retired person like me.) I just had a funny thought--has anyone come to an understanding of what specific plans a person can make for post-retirement years? I can still chuckle about it, even though I am approaching that era. But I am still young at age 92.
Have a wonderful week. I'm praying for you. Love, EldER Taylor