We all have our reverses. Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth (Prov. 13:24.) It is in the depths where men and women learn the lessons that help to build strong men and women—not at the pinnacle of success. In the hour of a man’s success is his greatest danger. It sometimes takes reverses to make us appreciate our blessings and to develop us into strong, courageous characters.
I well remember a young couple who started farming in Idaho years ago. They had modest means, but they paid down payment on 40 acres of raw land. They were going into the raising of fruit—peaches particularly. They had leveled the land, brought out the laterals, planted the trees, and then weeded and irrigated and watched until the time had come when they’d have a harvest. This particular spring the orchard was a sea of blossoms, and it looked as though they were going to have a bounteous harvest. Then one night without warning, there came a frost that wiped out practically the entire crop overnight. Well, young John didn’t go to church the next Sunday, nor the next Sunday, nor the next Sunday. Finally his good old bishop came out to see what was wrong. He found John out in the field, and he said, “John, we haven’t seen you in church for several weeks. What’s the matter? Is anything wrong?” John said, “No, bishop, I’m not coming anymore. Do you think I can worship a God who would let this happen to me?” And then he went on to explain to the bishop what had happened. Of course, the bishop felt sorrowful too, and he expressed it to John. And as he looked down at the ground for a moment, he said, “John, I’m sure the Lord knows that you can’t produce the best peaches with frost. But I’m also sure he knows that you can’t produce the best men without frost, and the Lord is interested in producing men, not peaches.” Well, John went to church the next Sunday, and another year a harvest came. He later became a bishop in the Church.
I also remember attending a meeting near Bancroft, Idaho, years ago. It was sponsored in part by the extension service of the University. We’d had a wonderful meeting, and after it was over, I was greeting some of the wonderful farmers who were there, and among them was a man by the name of Brother Yost, and I said, “Brother Yost, how are things out on the farm?” Brother Yost said, “Oh, things are fine, Brother Benson, but I’m about 20 thousand dollars worse off than I was three days ago.” I said, “What’s the matter—another frost?” He said, “Yes, it hit the wheat just in the dough stage, and you know what that means.” He said, “We’re starting the mowing machines in the morning, but everything’s all right. We’ve still got a little wheat in the bin, and we’ve got at least part of our year’s supply laid away. We’re not going to starve, and there’ll be another crop.” As we left him, I said to my wife, “What a wonderful spirit.”
We drove on down to Logan. We had our children with us, and we stopped on Main Street to go into a grocery store to pick up a few cookies for the kiddies. And who should I meet on the sidewalk but Brother Yost. I said, “Well, what are you doing way down here?” He said, “Brother Benson, it’s our day to go to the temple.” And I said, “Well, reverses don’t dampen your spirit any, do they?” Then he taught me a lesson. He said, “Brother Benson, when reverses come we need the temple all the more.”
When reverses come we need the Church and the gospel all the more. I’m satisfied that it’s possible for a man or woman who has a testimony of the divinity of this work to meet any possible reverses and still keep his spirit sweet and his faith strong. I saw members of this church in Europe right after World War II, the worst war so far as we know in the history of modern nations, when nations were fallen economically. I saw members of this church, some of them the only remaining members of once happy and prosperous families—with their homes destroyed and every member of the family killed in the war—and they stood alone as the one remaining person. I saw them and I heard them as they stood on their feet and bore testimony to the divinity of this work and thanked God for his blessings—the blessings of the eternity of the marriage covenant, the conviction that the family continues beyond the veil, that there is life after death, that there will be a happy reunion for those who live worthy.
Yes, we can meet every reverse that can possibly come with the help of the Lord and the blessings of God. And every reverse can be turned to our benefit and blessing and will make us stronger, more courageous, more godlike. Many people have had reverses in this latter day.
I often think of the Prophet Joseph—to me the greatest prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth, save Jesus only, whom he represented and served. I think of his trials and tribulations. I thought of them as I stood in Liberty Jail for the first time and then the second time. Do you remember, he was in that filthy jail, surrounded by vile men, not for a period of days or weeks, but months. And finally, when it seemed as though he could stand it no longer, remember he cried out in these words:
“O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
“How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
“Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?
“Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.” (D&C 121:1–3, 6.)
And then came the answer in revelation to the Prophet in these words:
“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.
“Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.” (D&C 121:7–9.)
See the promise. And then this mild chastisement. “Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.” (D&C 121:10.)
And then this further promise: “And they who do charge thee with transgression, their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun.” (D&C 121:11.)
And at another time, the Lord indicated to the Prophet that “the ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee;
“While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.” (D&C 121:1–2.)
And then the Lord uttered this significant statement:
“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens father blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:7–8.)