|Elder Jeff Champlin|
In April conference, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy asked “When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are – that we are children of a loving God? Is that, then, coupled with the absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us – like a refiner’s fire – to become like Him?”
Enduring or overcoming severe challenges ultimately comes down to surrendering , or sacrificing, our will and turning to the Saviour who has made the ultimate sacrifice.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland said it simply, “You can have something you want, or you can have something better”.
Choosing the Lord’s will – over our own will - is the essence of the Law of Sacrifice.
Our trials have an eternal purpose. And they not only bless us, but our hardships endured well, bless others.
However the opposite is also true. Trials not endured well can have long-lasting negative impacts on others, most notably family.
According to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “If you are injured but forgive, patiently and willingly endure the difficult sorrows and trial of life, or make difficult, seemingly unfair sacrifices, blessings flow, even unto the saving of families and the blessing of future generations.”
In 1923 staggering economic hardships meant the Turner family would need to give up their farm and move to the town of Corrine, in northern Utah. Ida Turner searched the regional advertising section of the Salt Lake Tribune. There, in the newspaper, misplaced among the list of “houses for rent,” was an ad that read: “Wanted, a home for a boy.”
Ida was deeply moved by the cryptic classified advertisement. It reopened a deep wound in her heart. Sorrows she had tried to suppress washed over her anew.
Her husband, Horace, resisted her. After all, they barely had enough to feed and clothe themselves, their son and three daughters.
Ida wouldn’t, couldn’t let it go.
When her husband relented, she mailed a response to the advertisement. There was no further correspondence. Yet within weeks, the boy, Jack, age 9, accompanied by his father holding a small bag of Jack’s meager belongings, arrived at the farmhouse unannounced.
Jack’s father explained he was in the military and was frequently transferred from one army post to another. This time they were sent from Florida to Fort Douglas, east of Salt Lake City. Jack’s father said that where ever they had lived – which so far included 4 eastern states – they found a place for Jack, because Jack was disobedient to his mother, who had two younger children to raise.
That day was the beginning of what Jack described as the happiest days a boy could ever have. He was loved, and for the first time felt like part of a family.
Over a year later, Jack’s father returned to Corrine, again unannounced. He had come to take Jack. He was discharged from the army and was moving his family back to Florida.
Jack and his foster family were devastated. This news was especially painful for him and Ida. She felt the hole in her heart open wider than ever as she watched Jack looking back at here out of the car’s rear window as his father drove away.
Weeks turned to months and months to nearly two years. Jack moved from one foster home to another throughout Florida and Georgia as his father sought permanent employment. Along the way, Jack wrote simple letters to Ida about being unhappy, lonely, burdened with excessive chores in the homes of strangers, and wondered why he couldn’t stay with his own family. If given the chance, he wrote, “I will be a good boy”.
In one letter he mustered the courage to ask Ida to write his father and ask if he could return to Utah and live with her again. Months later Jack, almost age 12, found himself on a train under the care of the Red Cross, returning to Utah. He never saw his father again.
After his arrival at the Turner home, Ida told Jack about a little boy whose mother had died at his birth. His father remarried and his new wife did not like the little boy, so he couldn’t live with his family. She told Jack he was that boy.
Then was when Jack learned the angry woman he thought was his mother was not his real mother. Ida also told Jack that she had a child who had died, how it had broken her heart, and caused her sorrow the depth of which only a mother could feel. She told Jack her little girl, Alice, would have been his same age.
It is not much of a stretch to say that Jack and Ida lived happily ever after. Jack was anxious to join the church of the Turner family: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a missionary for 2 ½ years, fought in World War II for 4 years, and then returned to Utah, fell in love and married in the Logan Temple.
Together, he and his bride had 10 children. I am their fifth child.
Our family, now 202 in number, has benefited down to the third generation, because of the choices made, the sorrows endured, the patience shown, and the faithful lives lived by a lost boy and a grieving mother who made him her own.
All of us have people like Jack and Ida in our lives, past and present. Perhaps even someone we work with here.
Many have overcome, or are striving to overcome, unbelievably difficult things, some far grater than Jack and Ida endured – things for which their loved ones and us are, and will be, the blessed beneficiaries.
May we honour and be forever grateful for those whose sacrifices and sorrows – endured well – bless us and those we love.
And may we realize that our choices, made while under the pressures of life, impact not only ourselves, but those near us who need us to be faithful, especially our families – now and for generations to come.
Trusting, as Elder Wirthlin has said, “that the Lord compensates the faithful for every loss…and every tear today will eventually be returned a hundred fold with tears of rejoicing gratitude.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
|Elder Taylor as a Missionary to Louisiana|
|Jack during happy days in Corinne, Utah|
|Ida Turner, the woman who gave Jack a home|
REFERENCES for Quotes:
Halstrom, Donald. April 2016. “I Am a Child of God”.
Wirthlin, Joseph. October 2008. “Come What May and Love It.”
Uchtdorf, Dieter. April 2016. “In Praise of Those Who Save”
Other great talks on same topic:
Halstrom, Donald. April 2010. “Turn to the Lord”
Uchtdorf, Dieter. April 2012. “The Merciful Obtain Mercy”.
Ucthdorf, Dieter. April 2007. “”The Point of Safe Return”.