Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FIRST DAY OF SPRING. . . not so much!!

Hello Family!!

On Wednesday the 20th, we woke up to about 2 feet of fresh snow!  So Elder Clark and I spent a good chunk of our day clearing out snow from our apartment complex.  The entire complex is all senior citizens, and then us young men.  So we cleared off every car in the parking lot, and then shovelled walkways.  To gain a sense of how much snow there was, at one point, when I was standing in it, the snow went all the way up to my belly button.  My slacks were beyond soaked by the time we got finished.  It was ironic though, because it was supposed to be the first day of spring.  I guess things are different in the Maritimes!



(Elder Hunt was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting last Sunday, and he sent his talk.  I really like it!!  So here it is! ) 

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was growing up in the town of St. George, Utah. One particular winter had packed the mountains with an unusual amount of snow. Normally, St. George is known for its' dry deserts and hot temperatures. This year was no different following the snow, and as the hot temperatures rapidly increased, so did the amount of water in our rivers due to runoff. This amount of water was combined with the following days of pouring rain, and continued to increase the size of the river. 
Now, when I say river, I actually mean a very small, 3 ft. wide creek. However, this once contained creek quickly transformed into a raging 100 ft. wide mass, which could not be contained by its small banks. It tore at the banks, eroding them away, drawing closer and closer to the homes of family friends. In fact, it was getting too close that my family began to help them evacuate all of their belongings, in anticipation that the house would be swept away by the river.
As we helped move things out of the house, I noticed the big glass window, much like that of a storefront, that faced the river. It was dark, and hard to see the river, so I went to the window, pressing my hand and face firmly to the glass. Just when I had thought I was in a perfect position to see, there was a blast.
The window I had been up against shattered, and I was thrown backwards. In that moment, I didn't know what had happened, or even why...All I knew was I was scared and confused.
In our lives, we're often caught off-guard, just as I was, by a blast. These blasts, as we know them, come in the form of trials and adversity. They like to sneak up on us and hit us when we least expect it. Today I want to talk about how these trials are not only necessary, but beneficial.
After the initial blast in my friend's home, I later came to find out that the blast, which had so forcefully disturbed me, came from the powerful explosive of dynamite. Many years before the incident, there had been a partial dam built along the river, and officials had now discovered the only way to help contain the river would be to blast the dam out. Although it was unexpected to many others, including myself, the blast was absolutely necessary in order to save the home.
We each are personally blasted in our lives. Maybe it's a sickness, a broken down car, or even a death in the family. Our trials come in all shapes and sizes, but none of us are immune to them. So when these things happen, we can't necessarily change the situation. BUT, we can change the impact it has on us, and how we deal with that specific situation.
When I had finally recovered from the initial shock of the dynamite blast, we observed the damage that was done to the window, and began to deal with the situation. Instead of wallowing in sorrow over the effects that had been caused by someone or something, we began to cleanup and move on. 
Within three days, the river was contained, and the house was saved...only at the cost of a broken window.
These trials that we face often feel like a big blast, or a giant shattered window, when they hit us. But in the eternal scheme of things, they save us from a far more destructive flood.
Our Heavenly Father knows each of us. He loves us. He gives us trials and adversity in life because HE knows how it will benefit us. He knows these smaller "broken windows" save us from being swept away by a raging flood. He gives us these moments to be torn down, so that He can lift us higher. But as he allows these things to happen, he cannot and will not choose for us, how we deal with them.
Bro. Steve Dunn Hanson relates a story in a talk he gave in the February 1981 Ensign, entitled: What To Do With Adversity :       When my great-great grandparents joined the church in Sweden, they were faced with a long ocean voyage to America, a train trip from New York to Omaha, and then a trek by wagon to Salt Lake City. But when they boarded the train in New York, they discovered that they were to ride in stock cars that had been used to haul hogs to market -- and the cars were filthy and filled with hog lice. Grandmother accepted the inconvenience, but the humiliation was almost more than grandfather could bear. "To think, we are no better than hogs" he grumbled. Reluctantly he made the trip anyway. 
Grandmother was expecting another child...
Somewhere on the plains of Nebraska, a healthy baby was born. But, a few days later, the three year old son contracted cholera and died that night.
The next morning the wagon master said they would hold a short funeral service and bury the boy in a shallow grave, apologetically explaining that they were in Indian country and didn't have time to do anything more. But grandfather couldn't accept this, and insisted on staying behind and digging a grave deep enough so the animals wouldn't get the body.
Throughout the day and into the night he worked, building a strong wooden coffin and digging a grave five feet deep in the hard soil. Finally, exhausted and sobbing, he buried his son and then walked all night to catch up with the wagon train. He was heartbroken and mad -- mad at the wagon master for not waiting to give his son a proper burial, and mad at God for allowing his son to die...
This wasn't the end of their difficulties. They continued to suffer serious hardships and adversities throughout their lives. But although they both went through identical experiences, each was affected differently by them Grandfather became withdrawn, and bitter. He stopped going to church and found fault with church leaders. He became caught up in his own miseries, and the light of Christ grew dimmer and dimmer in his life. 
On the other hand, grandmother's faith increased. Each new problem seemed to make her stronger. She became an angel of mercy -- filled with empathy, compassion, and charity. She was a light to those around her. Her family gravitated toward her and looked to her as their leader.
When these trials come into our lives, we should take them, and use them as steps toward Heaven, rather than a reason to justify our acts and feelings. When they come, we can choose to be as the father in the story, becoming bitting and pulling ourselves away from God. Or we can follow the example of the mother, and trust in Heavenly father, knowing that good will come from whatever happens.
What can and sometimes does happen when we go through something that blasts us, is we can become afraid. That same night after the dynamite had gone off, I was back at hom with my family when my mom asked me to take out the garbage. It was a simple request that normally I wouldn't have a problem with...but that night, I couldn't do it. I was too afraid that taking one step outside of the house might just cause another blast to go off. Looking back now, I can tell you that many other blasts did go off, but my mom taught me a valuable lesson. She taught me that whether I was inside or outside of the house, the blasts would still go off, So I needed to learn how to deal with them. 
As we each learn to deal with our very personal and different challenges, there are a few things that can help all of us, regardless of specific circumstance.
First, we should pray for understanding and comfort. When we turn to the Lord in these tough times, we show him that things are out of our control and that we need his help to see why this specific trial is necessary. As we do this we will gain a sense of understanding which brings us comfort to help us make it through.
Second, we must be patient in enduring. I was always taught that "patience is a virtue." Well, I've never agreed with that statement. I've always changed it to "patience is a skill to be learned...then it becomes a virtue." We are also always told to "endure to the end," but there is a major difference between simply enduring, and then enduring well. Having this patience may be something we need to work at, but it is key in helping us to endure well.
Third, we must trust in God. When we have complete trust in God, fellings of fear, doubt, anxiety, and many others, have no place in our hearts. They are instead replaced with faith, which in turn leads us to do everything we can on our part, to help God help us.
In Doctrine and covenants, section 58, it states: " Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings.
As we learn how to deal with the adversity in our lives, we strengthen our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and His son, Jesus Christ. As we turn to them, and trust in them, they will always provide a way for our eventual happiness. 
I know that God loves us. I know that he blesses us with tough times, so we can recognize the good ones in our lives. I know He will be with us through these trials, IF we let him.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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