Saturday, July 12, 2008

Post 14 - Could Adversity Ever Be A Blessing?

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(I will refer to this photo later.)

In this post we will first check on Alma the First and those who had been baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ at the Waters of Mormon to learn what they did soon after being baptized and had founded Christ's church.

Mosiah 18:31-35

Why didn't the Lord set up things so that this faithful group of 450 saints would not have to speedily travel away from the Waters of Mormon into the wilderness to escape King Noah's army? What about the strong words of prophecy that Abinadi uttered about the downfall of King Noah and his priests and the people who continued to follow them? Why could King Noah still be able to continue in his evil ways of preventing true believers from worshipping as they wish? Does the Lord have a purpose in allowing adversity to come upon his people? If so, why?

Examine your own life. Has any adversity you may have faced actually turned out to have had a beneficial effect on you? While you are trying to answer my question let me tell you about some adversity in my life.

Last Friday afternoon while doing my thirty-five minute elliptical exercise(six days a week routine)(keeping my heart rate under 140 beats a minute as my doctor told me 76 year-olds should do, and using two medically implanted new knees - one on December 13, 2002 and the other on February 6, 2008), I saw and heard a good sized group of boys on the basketball court just behind me down on the first floor making all kinds of happy noises while working out in a basketball camp. They were really yelling for joy, the joy of using their bodies to develop skills needed in playing basketball.

I remembered right then, that at that age I would have never been "yelling for joy" like those boys were doing because my doctor, Lucas W. Empey, had on purpose made my left knee stiff. At age five I had contracted Tuberculosis of the left knee because of raw milk that turned out to be infected with TB bacteria we had been buying from a dairy near Roseville, California where I grew up.

To achieve my having a stiff left knee, Doctor Empey put me in traction for most of the rest of my fifth year by attaching pulleys to the outside end of my crib with weights on the ends of ropes that ran over the pulleys and stretched my left knee straight during much of the daytime hours for at least a half a year. This was done because the medical opinion was that only by so doing my leg would be able to grow normally in length. And it did, but it remained stiff for 65 years until the new knee was implanted.

During part of my sixth and seventh years I had a caste on my left knee and spent 14 months away from my family as a patient at the LDS Primary Children's' Hospital which was then located across North Temple Street from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The photo at the beginning of this post was taken by my mother in the front yard of that hospital.

My parents felt that was the only thing they could do to have my knee treated by specialists and for me to be able to begin attending the first grade (which was taught right there in the hospital).

My Mother and Father and my brother who was two years younger than me lived 700 miles to the West from me. Whenever my mother would kiss me goodbye after visiting me for several days at the Children's' Hospital most every month, I cried, at times, almost uncontrollably.

Here is a second photograph of me as a seven year old here. It was taken by a Deseret News photographer for an article in their March 18, 1939 issue. The cake was given to the children at the Primary Children's' Hospital to eat. This cake memorialized the Salt Lake Exchange Club's sixteenth anniversary. I'm the second boy from the right. My mother drew an arrow above me. I guess I was supposed to have a happy look on my face, but I don't think that is the kind of look I'm showing. Being away from home for fourteen months was tough.
I did very well in the first grade that was held at the hospital and there were many loving, caring nurses and I developed some good relationships with other children. Church meetings including Primary were held regularly. I learned to love our Savior, Jesus Christ, while there.

The adversity I went through during that time and to some extent all the time I was growing up because of that stiff knee, was actually something that shaped my life in a positive direction.

In the Church of Jesus Christ there is a worthy man in every stake of the church whose responsibility it is to give patriarchal blessings from the Lord to individuals in the Church who desire to receive one. I received such a blessing when I was ten years old.
Let me quote a small portion of that blessing:
"...these things which have come unto you (my stiff knee and the challenges that came with that) will be for your good. For you shall develop patience and shall have a kindly spirit towards your fellow man, and love for your fellow man in his affliction shall be great in your heart." (I added that which is parenthesized.)
I shed some tears as I typed those words just now. That Patriarchal Blessing was a true prophecy!

I'm adding this paragraph later. Yesterday at a family reunion two female cousins of mine reminded me of a song my mother had sung to each of them as they were growing up, telling them each that it was what she would sing to me when I was down emotionally. This is it:

HAPPINESS (By Mr. and Mrs. N.W. Cristiansen) I am happy today for the sunshine, for the skys of gray or blue. For within my heart is a song of life. I'll live, I'll work, I'll do.

No cloud can cast a shadow over courage such as mine. For I'll sing this song as I go along. I'll live, I'll work, I'll do.
Now back to my goal of reporting on the outcome of the adversity that came to the people of the Lord who were led by the prophet, Alma, the First. Also, you will want to know about the fulfilling of the prophecies regarding the downfall of King Noah and his priests. Please read this scriptural reference to learn some answers to those questions. You may want to Listen to this chapter also.

Mosiah 19:1-29

Now we've just learned that the prophecies against King Noah had begun to be fulfilled. His army was reduced in size and therefore can't continue pursuing Alma the First and The People of the Lord. Also, serious trouble with the Lamanites is reported. King Limhi, Noah's more righteous son along with a strong advisor, Gideon, negotiates a peace with the Lamanite King. The Lamanites demand and receive a huge tribute of 50% of everything King Limhi's people earn. King Noah is killed by fire as prophesied by Abinadi. He was cowardly in commanding the men to leave their wives and children in the hands of the Lamanites and escaping into the wilderness. The Lord's prophecy through Abinadi is really coming through now!

I find it time to close this post. I eagerly look forward in Post 15 to continuing to help us learn about how the Lord helped His people who are led by his prophet, Alma the First, through their adversities. I particularly want us to learn how these adversities helped them to grow and develop spiritually. Bright futures are often the result of having gone through tribulation.By the way, what was the answer you gave to the question I asked you above, "Has any adversity you may have faced actually turned out to have had a beneficial effect on you?" If you would like you could e-mail your answer to me at: I will keep your answer confidential and not share it on my blog unless you ask me to do so.

I look forward to writing Post 15 as soon as possible. The Book of Mormon, this book of books, teaches great lessons the Lord Jesus Christ wants each of us to learn. Thank you Mormon, and thank you, Lord. I hope you blog readers recognize as we go through these writings of Mormon, how similar in style and in culture the accounts are to those in the Old Testament. After all the Nephites and Lamanites culture derived from the culture of ancient Israel.


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Neil Birch


Kathleen said...

I am going to correct you on the song that you posted. "I am happy today for the sunshine..." is from the song "Happiness" that appeared in The Children Sing. I don't know exactly when it was written. The correct words are "...For within my heart is the song of LIFE"...(not love). Many people make this mistake, but I love the original lyrics. Just an FYI.

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling to remember the words to this song for a long time. Thank you not only for the words to the song but also for your message of hope.

Dawn Mercedes said...

This Children's Hymn has been in my mind today...but I could not remember the entire song. Thank you for posting this along with your testimony. Yes, adversity is here...and here to try us. And refine us. I am grateful for your post today. Hugs from afar...