“The road is rough,” I said,
“Dear Lord, there are stones that hurt me so.”
And He said, “Dear child, I understand,
I walked it long ago.”
“But there is a cool green path,” I said.
“Let me walk there for a time.”
“No child,” He gently answered me,
The green road does not climb.”
“My burden,” I said, “is far too great,
How can I bare it so?”
“My child,” said He, “I remember its weight,
I carried my cross, you know.”
“But,” I said, “I wish there were friends with me
Who would make my way their own.”
“Ah, yes,” He said, “Gethsemane
Was hard to face alone.”
And so I climbed the stony path,
Content at last to know
That where my Master had not gone,
I would not need to go.
And strangely then I found new friends,
The burden grew less sore,
As I remembered long ago,
He went that way before.
–Leona B. Gates
We live in a world where we must endure trials, but we must realize that we grow from the many experiences we have in life. Eugene Hansen said, “I heard my father remark on more than one occasion, ‘I don’t mind being educated in the school of hard knocks—it’s the refresher courses I keep getting that are the trial.’” (W. Eugene Hansen, “Children and the Family”, Ensign, May 1998, 58)
The hard-knocks teach us patience. It helps to mold us into better people. We can compare it to a rough stone that tumbles in a streambed and gradually becomes smooth and beautiful. All the jagged edges have been worn off. The result is a beautiful polished stone.
Marion G. Romney said, “I have seen the remorse and despair in the lives of men, who in the hour of trial have cursed God. And I have seen people rise to great heights from what seemed to be unbearable burdens.” (“Lesson 28: “O God, Where Art Thou?” Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 1999)
Disappointments are part of life and we grow as we learn to deal with them. Some times we feel that our trials are unbearable and we don’t realize that the Lord understands how we feel. Tribulation is part of life. No one can avoid it. Sometimes we have physical or mental stress put upon us at the most inconvenient time of our lives. We just want life to go smoothly, as it was before, with no conflict. If there were a way out, then we would take it.
There are two types of conflicts: internal and external. External conflict consists of physical ailments, struggling with finances, or someone intimidating you. Internal conflict comes from within such as poor self-esteem, depression, sorrow, or anxiety.
Ezra Taft Benson said, “Be warned that some of the greatest battles you will face will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.” (“Lesson 33: Avoiding Degrading Media Influences,” Young Women Manual 1, (2002), 143)
We must never allow our trials to pull us down. We need to have faith in a loving Father in Heaven who will comfort us. Opal Clarke wrote about the trials she and her twelve-year-old son had to bear when he contracted stevens-johnson syndrome.
Don’t Let Him Die
I first became aware of my twelve year old son, George’s, illness when the choppy rendition at the piano of “Hark! The Herald Angels sing,” had stopped. Glancing at him, his head resting on the piano, I asked, “What’s wrong?’
He replied, “I don’t feel good.” As he looked up I saw his cheeks were flushed; on closer inspection it proved to be a fine rash. He had a temperature. I called our family doctor and described the symptoms. He said it sounded like the measles that were going around and he prescribed a well-known drug.
The next day, George complained of his eyes hurting. Blisters began to appear on his ears and lips, and his temperature rose. After sitting by his side for several hours, I had to leave the room momentarily. As I returned, the sight was so shocking. I rushed from the room, dropped to the floor and cried. George had rubbed all the skin from his blistered lips. His ears, neck and face were a mass of blisters, with one large blister hanging like a sac on one side of his face. George did not sleep. He kept asking us to please turn out the lights. It was frightening to hear him ask this; there was only a small night light burning and I had a small folded towel over his eyes.
Upon our arrival at the hospital, we were taken to an isolation room. As the ambulance attendant lifted my son onto the bed, the large blister on his face, a hanging sac of sloshing fluid broke.
Now, lying naked on the sterile sheets, coughing and choking, his body a mass of blisters and skinless places, he looked like someone wearing an ugly mask. I wanted to cry out, “No! No!” But I prayed that for my son’s sake my voice would be calm.
Nothing could have torn me away from my son at this time; so I was given a hospital gown and a mask. The next few days were crucial ones. Large areas of skin that had gone dark and looked as if they were scalded, pushed off from George’s back and he stuck to the sheets. The skin, pushed up on his upper arm, looked like a wrinkled nylon stocking. George’s mouth and throat were blistered, as well as the bronchial tubes, and he was coughing constantly. I covered my face, put my head on the windowsill and fought the tears.
The eye doctor said the eyes were blistered, even on the cornea, and added, “If he comes along—we may not be able to save his eyes.” It came to me that my son might be blind!
A new nurse coming in to put drops in George’s eyes, leaned over him and said, “George, I have something to put in your eyes. Can you turn your head this way?” She leaned over, and as he turned his face with it’s black rimmed hole for a mouth, one side of his face practically skinless, and skinless ears—all this was too much for this nurse. She became nauseous, gagged and hurriedly left the room.
One night, two couples were standing in the hall. One of the men looked in at George and gasped. When his wife stepped over to where he was standing, he led her away, remarking, “You do not want to see that.”
Each time the doctor entered the room, he would greet my son with, “How are you George?” George would answer, “Pretty good.” Always pretty good. At one time the doctor looked at him and said, “You are a game little guy!” There were tears in his eyes.
He asked me if I was praying. I assured him I was. He also asked if his name could be put in the temple so those who were there could pray for him.
One evening, the young doctor gravely told me things were not going well and that he had done all that he could. At that moment I felt desperately alone; what could I do except go to God for help? I returned to the room and knelt beside my son’s bed and pleaded with God to let him live.
The next day, George asked, “Are they still praying for me?” I said, “Oh, yes. We surely are son.” Then he asked me if I’d hold his hand. He said, “If you don’t mind holding a scratchy one.” All day I held his hand. By evening I sensed a calmness come over him. I said, “Doctor, I think he is better!” The doctor examined him, turned to me and with a look of almost disbelief and surprise said, “I think he is!” The crisis had passed.
The miraculous powers of the body to heal took over. New skin began to grow and the old skin sloughed off. All twenty of his fingernails and toenails came off.
Suddenly we were aware that it was Christmas Eve. Kind nurses and Santa himself came to where a brave young boy with a blotched and burned looking body sat in the bed. By tipping his head back, he saw through slits of eyes a Christmas bouquet and said, “I can see! I can see!” At that moment I was humbled beyond words.
The young doctor came into the room and said, “George, you have made medical history.” Then he asked if we minded the case being written for the medical journals. I tried to thank our tall young doctor. He said humbly, “I just stood by.” But I knew he had worked valiantly to save my son.
Our family doctor came into the room and said, “George, you are a walking miracle.” The nurses, who came to say good-bye to us, said that no one in the hospital expected to see our son go out of the hospital alive. The eye doctor said, “I feel so humble about this boy. It certainly has made me a believer.”
At this unforgettable Christmas time I realized that, to me, Christmas would forever be a time of rejoicing; rejoicing for the gift of a son.” (Opal H. Clarke, “Don’t Let Him Die”)
This young man grew to adulthood but his body wasn’t the same. His eyes are constantly red because his tear ducts were destroyed and he has to use artificial tears. He coughs frequently and has a raspy sound when he breathes because he has Chronic Bronchitis. But this faithful man, George Amos Clarke, my sweetheart and husband, was grateful for a miracle.
Dr. J. R. Miller (1840 – 1912) wrote: “God many times answers our prayers not by bringing down his will to ours, but by lifting us up to himself. We grow strong, so as we need no longer cry for relief. We can bear the heavy load without asking to have it lightened.”