He gave this talk at BYU in 1995 and yet it is amazing how much it applies to 2009...how much it applies to a heart grieving infertility.
I had a desire to share this talk with you.
I have added highlights of his talk below and then put the link at the bottom of this post so you may read it in full.
Elder Oakes says of Adversity:
"Adversity will be a constant or occasional companion for each of us throughout our lives. We cannot avoid it. The only question is how we will react to it. Will our adversities be stumbling blocks or stepping stones? "
He goes on to talk about how the Lord's plan allowed for pain in order for there to be joy. He quotes President Hunter "We came to mortal life to encounter resistance. It was part of the plan for our eternal progress. Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow, there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being, or joy. [CR, April 1980, p. 34] "
Elder Oakes goes on to say:
"We can take comfort in the fact that because opposition is divinely decreed for the purpose of helping man to grow, we have the assurance of God that in the long view of eternity, opposition will not be allowed to overcome us. We will prevail. 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.
Our adversities can be the means of obtaining blessings unobtainable without them. Young Jacob had "suffered afflictions and much sorrow" in his childhood, but Lehi assured his son that God "shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain" (2 Nephi 2:12). After the Saints suffered severe persecutions in Missouri, the Lord gave this beautiful promise:
Fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks. . . .
. . . All things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good. [D&C 98: 1, 3]
A few years later, the Lord spoke similar words to the anguished Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail.
My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. [D&C 121:78]
"All these things shall give thee experience," the Lord explained, "and shall be for thy good" (D&C 122:7).
How can adversities be for our good? Speaking in area conferences about twenty years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson explained:
It is not on the pinnacle of success and ease where men and women grow most. It is often down in the valley of heartache and disappointment and reverses where men and women grow into strong characters. [Stockholm Area Conference, 1974, p. 70]
Every reversal can be turned to our benefit and blessing and can make us stronger, more courageous, more godlike. [Philippines Area Conference, 1975, p. 11] "
He quotes Sister Elaine Cannon from her book title "Adversity":
"if we face up to our individual adversities or hardships, they can become sources of blessings to their apparent victims. God will not give us adversities we cannot handle, and he will bless us richly for patiently doing the best we can in the circumstances.
Elaine Cannon reminds us of an important way these blessings come and how we can make the most of them.
When we are pushed, stung, defeated, embarrassed, hurt, rejected, tormented, forgotten--when we are in agony of spirit crying out "why me?" we are in a position to learn something. [Cannon, Adversity, p. 47]
A person who understands that life is schooling is more likely to benefit from adversity than one who expects only happiness in life. [Cannon, Adversity, p. 46]"
And Quotes Presiden Spencer W. Kimball:
President Kimball gave us these inspired thoughts on the blessings of adversity:
I'm grateful that my priesthood power is limited and used as the Lord sees fit to use it. I don't want to heal all the sick--for sickness sometimes is a great blessing. People become angels through sickness.
Have you ever seen someone who has been helpless for so long that he has divested himself of every envy and jealousy and ugliness in his whole life, and who has perfected his life? I have. Have you seen mothers who have struggled with, perhaps, unfortunate children for years and years, and have become saints through it? Have you seen people who have calamity like the woman in my childhood who came home after a party and found seven children in ashes, her children, whom she had locked in her home. I am glad that we don't have to make those decisions. No pain suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effects if it be suffered in resignation and if it be met with patience. [TSWK, p. 16768]"
Elder Oakes goes on to repeat words he wrote to a young man who was hurt during a chemistry lab misjudgement. These words were later put in a hymn.
"In the furnace God may prove thee,
Thence to bring thee forth more bright,
But can never cease to love thee;
Thou art precious in his sight.
God is with thee, God is with thee;
Thou shalt triumph in his might.
The young man was blessed in his adversity, and so was I. The words of that hymn have been among my comforting companions for almost thirty years. Since that time I have discovered the source of that vivid metaphor. It is the words the Lord spoke to the children of Israel through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, I have refined thee . . . ; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:10; 1 Nephi 20:10).
I know that the "furnace of affliction" is an eternal reality and that its consequences are an eternal blessing. I know and testify to the truth of Alma's teaching "that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day" (Alma 36:3).
I pray that we will place trust in that comforting assurance and act so as to be worthy of our Heavenly Father's choicest blessings for his children. Those blessings are made possible because of the Resurrection and Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose witness I am, and in whose name I testify, even the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
Elder Oakes "Adversity"
It is amazing to hear it again...but this time I can testify to what he has said...that it is true because I have experienced this in my own life.
My life has been forever changed by infertility. Where I once asked "why me?" I now thank the Lord for the blessing of being infertile.
The pain has taught me how to love in a deeper way, understanding, Charity and above all it has brought me to truly know my Savior Jesus Christ!
I have learned that I don't have to travel through pain alone...that my Savior is there to lift me up and help me along if I will reach out to him.
Today I am a different person.....I am no longer broken. I have had our Saviors healing come into my heart and mind and I am not only whole but a better version of whole than I was before.