Wednesday, September 30, 2009

38n - Review of Past Post #14 - Can Facing Adversity Ever Prepare us for Eventual Blessings?

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TODAY'S THEME


FACING ADVERSITY!

Alma and the Four Sons of King Mosiah Face Unexpected Adversity! -By Gary Kapp

Alma 36: 12 But I (Alma) was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! (emphasis and clarification added)
Now, I hope that you are in agreement with me on that which Alma the Younger's experiences help us to more clearly see, that the adversities we face in life can very effectively prepare us for better things!

Neil Birch (Me, This Blog's Author) at age six in Front of the Primary Childrens' Hospital Located then just across North Temple Street from the North Gate of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah (U.S.A.) -Photo taken by Neil's mother, Virginia Jensen Birch sometime in either 1938 or 1939.
I will now share with you some of the adversity I had to face beginning at the tender age of five. Unlike Alma and the people he was teaching (in the scripture above) I had not yet reached the age of accountability before God (age eight). I was a good child, I just happened to drink (Tuberculosis "TB" infected) milk that my good parents obtained unknowingly from a dairy located not too far from our home in Roseville, California (U.S.A.)


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 to yourself, let me tell you more about the effects on me of that adversity that came to me in that early part of my life.

Not too many months ago, while doing my forty minute elliptical exercise six days a week routine (- an update on July 23, 2011 - 55 minutes a day now on a more heavy-duty elliptical. I never miss a day because of illness because I just don't get sick and I thank the Lord for that! Eating correctly helps much also) At the Murray, Utah Recreation Center, keeping my heart rate under 141 beats a minute as my doctor told me 77 (79) year-olds should do, and using two successfully medically implanted new knees - (one on December 13, 2001 and the other on February 6, 2008), I saw and heard a good sized group of pre-teen 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 shouting for joy, the joy of using their bodies while developing skills needed in playing basketball.

I remembered right then, at their age I would have never been "shouting for joy" like they were doing because our very good and greatly respected (respected to this day by me and my parents who are now deceased) doctor, Lucas W. Empey M.D., had, on purpose, made my left knee stiff.

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 about half a year. This was done because the medical opinion then was that only by so doing my leg would grow to a normal length. And it did, but it remained stiff for 65 years until a new knee was implanted (in  December 2001).

During part of my sixth and seventh years I had a Plaster of Paris caste on my left knee and spent 14 months away from my family as a patient at the LDS Primary Children's' Hospital shown in this photo:

The Primary Childrens' Hospital That Once Stood Across North Temple Street From the North Gate of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah (U.S.A.) It Was Replaced Sometime in 1952 by a New Hospital Which Was Built in the Avenues section of Salt Lake City.
The photo you viewed earlier in this post was taken by my mother in the front yard of the hospital shown just above.


The Present Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The very large and beautiful Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (shown above) now stands in that same block where that hospital and several other smaller buildings once stood.

My parents felt that was the only thing that they could afford (financially) to have my knee treated by specialists and also for me to be able to begin attending the first grade (which was taught right there in the hospital). They didn't have the needed means (an auto) to transport me to school in Roseville, CA. My father was a clerk at the Roseville Roundhouse of the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was during the Great Depression and his salary was somewhat meager.

My Mother and Father and my brother who is twenty three months younger than me, lived 700 miles to the West from Salt Lake City, Utah (U.S.A.). 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. 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 on this newspaper photo. I guess we were all asked to have a happy look on our faces, but I don't think that is the kind of look I'm showing in that photo. Being away from home for fourteen months was very difficult for seven year old me.



I did exceptionally 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 helped shape my life in a positive direction.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is a worthy man in every stake (an area organization) of the church whose responsibility it is, to give patriarchal blessings from the Lord to individuals in the Church who desire and are worthy to receive such. I received such a blessing when I was ten years old and living at our home in Roseville, California (U.S.A.) (which is about 14 miles North East of Sacramento, the Capitol City of the State of California.)

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 of gratitude as I typed those words just now. That Patriarchal Blessing was true prophecy!

I'm adding this paragraph later. Yesterday (at the time I first used this material in my blog post #14 in June 2008) 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 used to sing to me when I was discouraged about my knee problem. This is it:

Happiness: (The title of a song which is found in a Primary (which is the LDS Church's Childrens' organization, in case you are not a member of the church or are new to the church and don't know what "Primary" is.) older Song Book: "The Children Sing."
I am happy today for the sunshine, for the skies 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.

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 in you?" If you would like, you could e-mail your answer to me at: jneilmelva@gmail.com I will keep your answer confidential and not share it on my blog unless you ask me to do so.
The Resurrected Jesus Christ -by Heinrich Hoffmann

* The Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to have broken hearts and contrite spirits!

3Nephi 9:17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.
21 Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.
22 Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved. (emphasis added)
I repeat this painting and the scripture from above where they were shown as illustrating this post's Theme.

An Angel of the Lord Appears to Alma the Younger and His Four Friends (Sons of Their King, Mosiah). The Angel is Chastising them for Their Sinful Lives: -By Gary Kapp.
Alma 36: 12 But I (Alma) was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. (clarification added)
Alma suffered great adversity because of his many sins. That great adversity brought about in him: Repentance and the Blessed Peace which follows that! Thus, Alma the Younger, suffering great adversity and tribulation, remembered the teachings of his father, Alma the Elder. Young Alma was humbled and with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, found peace he had never before experienced or even most likely, ever even anticipated. Now I add the next four verses as I did at the beginning of this post so as to emphasize their importance:
Alma 36:17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! (emphasis added)
Now, it would seem that Alma would have ever afterwards demonstrated his deep appreciation for the great blessing his experience with adversity had brought him and that he would value the true principle consistently in his ministry among the wayward ones of his people, that facing adversity properly, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit*, is the sure means to gaining great blessings and peace.

Here is an example showing that indeed, Alma did demonstrate in his teachings of others his deep appreciation for that great blessing of adversity that had come upon him earlier in his life:
Alma 32: 6 And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.

7 Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent. . . [About 74 B.C.] (emphasis added)
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This website is not owned by or affiliated with the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church.

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TO ACCESS NEIL BIRCH'S BLOG INDEX: To Either Read the Full Index Item Which Refers To This Blog Post, (Or To Search The Index For Any Other Blog Post You Desire To Access), After You Have Read All of This Paragraph, Please Scroll Back Up And Click on the Following: Facing Adversity Can Prepare Us for Eventual Blessings. -Post 38n. When The Picture of Our Savior, Jesus Christ Sitting Next To a Little Boy Comes Onto Your Screen, Please Scroll Down In The Index To Your Target Item Or Use the Alphabetical Scrolling Device (When It Has Been Installed).

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I deeply appreciate your readership and hope you found very beneficial, that which was presented to you in this blog post.

If you have any questions about what you have read or viewed in this post or in any previous posts of mine, or if you even have a curiosity about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and or its teachings, please e-mail me. I'm Neil and my e-mail address is: jneilmelva@gmail.com. If you contact me I'll get back to you just as soon as possible.

I invite you to let your friends and relatives know about this blog if you think they would be interested. Please be advised that I also have an additional blog. It is in Spanish: It is translated from this English blog of mine.


Neil Birch

2 comments:

joy said...

Neil, Dr.Empey was my father. He did the best for the information available at the time.
I had polio in 1955 and had a long effect on me.
I too, have a new knee as of 2009.
Joy Empey Carter, Boise, ID

Anonymous said...

Brother Birch, :-)

I stumbled across your blog a few days ago and have bookmarked it because I really enjoy your comments and lessons. Thank you for the time you put into sharing your testimony and inspirational thoughts with each blog.

I do have a question for you:
The lyrics to the song from the blog I read today:

I am happy today for the sunshine, for the skys of gray or blue. For within my heart is a song of love. 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.

What is the name of the song? I really like the message of the lyrics and would like to learn the song. If you would help me find the tune, the name of the song, or the music so I may learn it I would greatly appreciate it. I'd like to share it with my kids and help them learn it as a song to sing to help remind them of the positive attitude that is important to have while facing adversity.

THANKS!!!!!