Sunday, February 22, 2015

When the Goats Die

After my last post considering how Robert Louis Stevenson did much of his amazing writing as a result of being bed-bound with serious illness, I saw a story which comes from Meridian Magazine by Mark Albright on November 23, 2014.   

The story tells of a young man named John from Mozambique who faced terrible opposition when his family's goats died from some disease.  His family depended on those goats for their livelihood.  As a result of this set back, which appeared very much like a "disaster" to the family, young John set out for the city to find some other way to support himself.  

The article skillfully tells the story how a series of events led to John getting an education and becoming a "man of importance" in his community.    John's son, David, grew up with opportunities that never would have come his way if John were still a goat herder in Mozambique.

David earned an important scholarship which led to a government job in the USA.  Along the way he was introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ and is today raising a strong family in the Church and serving in his community.  What would David's life be like had his father's family had fine fat goats instead of adversity?   What if the goats had not died?

Adversity is something we all must face as a consequence of living in a fallen, mortal world.  We know that ultimately our lives can be blessed by these experiences.  Still, none of us eagerly look forward to life's challenges and tough spots.  
Right now I am itching all over from bug bites - something that is generally just annoying.  However in Samoa, getting bitten by mosquitoes can be dangerous.  There are some serious diseases, like Dengue Fever and Chikengunya which are major health concerns in this country that are transmitted by insect bites.  There is no vaccination to prevent these illnesses and no real treatment if I get it.   I have used strong insect repellent and covered up as much as I can when I go outdoors.  Still - I continue to get bitten by bugs.   

I am hoping and praying that I stay healthy.  I must admit, I have a fair amount of fear about these nasty fevers I could contract that bring with them unrelenting pain in the joints, pounding headaches and overall weakness and malaise.  Sounds pretty miserable if you ask me.

I hope I'm not finding all these inspirational stories about adversity right now to prepare me for an adversity about to happen in my own life.

But the reality is, even if I were not to get a single bug bite and could be guaranteed not to get sick at this time - adversity IS a part of life and we will all have difficulties, pain and opposition.  It is part of the plan.

So instead of seeing these stories as a warning omen of pain to come, I will take them as a reminder that sometimes our blessings do not come wrapped up in pretty packages.  Sometimes they come looking like disaster.  Sometimes our goats will die.

Thank you to Mark Albright for sharing this story.  I will definitely be looking for more of his writing. 
"Like the mortal life of which they are a part, adversities are temporary.  What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them."  Dallin H Oaks, Adversity, Ensign, July 1998

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