The Fruits of Adversity

Week 6 of my COVID-19 “stay-and-work-at-home” adventure. I’m a bit shocked to realize it’s been that long! Time is elusive and one day melts into another. I sympathize with those who are feeling stir-crazy. I worry for those who are facing financial distress. I pray for those who are working on the front lines at such high personal risk. My heart breaks for those who are dealing with illness, and grief. Whatever your unique burden is right now, I hope my blog will bring something positive to your day.

I’m tremendously blessed to be able to work from home. In truth, I often feel guilty about it, since so many others do not have this luxury. I am not facing serious financial strain. So far, everyone in our home and close circle is “covid-free” and healthy – with exception of my Uncle John who suffered a heart attack while cycling last week with my Aunt Kris. He experienced a miraculous rescue & life-saving surgery [during this crazy time of COVID19 lock-down, my aunt could not be inside the hospital with him which was traumatic]. He is already recovering at home. This is a very personal reminder of how important our healthcare workers are, true Saints on earth, saving lives! AND, this is the reason we must all PLEASE stay home to help save their lives – so they can save people like my Uncle John needing emergency care!

I’ve settled into a very comfortable routine in my home office; gazing out my window at the sky and mountains, completing work projects, answering email, joining “Zoom” video meetings with my team, and corresponding via Skype and text.

I take daily walk breaks, and am cherishing all of the extra quantity and quality family-time. Spring is bursting out all over, reclaiming the landscape one green blade of grass, blooming tree bud, and ray of sun at a time.

No longer do Jeff and I arrive home exhausted from fighting an hour of commuter traffic and then frantically try to throw something together to eat. Now, we leisurely start preparing dinner at 5:00 PM. The family sits around the table talking, laughing and enjoying our meal. Then, we head outside for some sunshine on our beautiful trail. In general, I am feeling happier and sleeping better than I’ve felt or slept in years.

I. love. this.

My life is not perfect or what I’d label “serene”. Soon after I began working from home we faced a new and unexpected trial as a family – completely unrelated to COVID-19. I imagine many of you are facing an “extra” personal challenge, too. Or, you will in the near future, because Life is predictably unpredictable like that. It keeps coming right at us, regardless of a Pandemic, or earthquakes (yes, we’ve been getting those, too). Have you noticed that as soon as we climb one “mountain” challenge, another one presents itself? Sometimes, we don’t even get to finish one mountain before we must start climbing a new one!

I’m learning to breathe, and embrace the “exercise” of life’s challenges!

One of my favorite artists [of so many] is James C. Christensen. His creativity is boundless! He offers fantasy art that is whimsical and symbolic. He also creates beautiful religious art filled with emotion and spiritual insight. Today I recalled his painting entitled The Fruits of Adversity.

The Fruits of Adversity

The Everyman is enjoying the white fruit of the tree of life, but the tree is coming from his hump — from his trials and adversity. He’s walking on the strait and narrow path, which happens to be on top of a wall in this painting, but it’s through the adversity he has endured that he is able to enjoy the fruit.” – James C. Christensen, in LDS Living

I’ve been thinking a lot about “trials and adversity“. We live in a world full of injustice, heartbreak, trauma, and suffering. Sometimes the chaos and cruelty overwhelms me. I feel discouraged and defeated. Why must really good people have really bad things happen to them? Why must innocent children have to suffer terrible things? Why must our human family be filled with so much hate and division? Why must things become so incredibly complicated and unbearably painful?!

These are questions for the ages. I don’t pretend to have the answers.

When I feel discouraged and depressed about life, there’s nobody better to listen to than the apostle Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. On Sunday I read his Conference talk entitled “Look to God and Live“. It was given in 1993, but it could so easily be today.

“…in community after community, in small nations and large, we see individuals and families facing heightened anxiety and fear. It would seem that discouragement, depression, and despair are our contemporary “Black Plague.” Ours is, as Jesus said it would be, a time of distress with perplexity (see Luke 21:25).”…

… Only if the world has meaning at a spiritual level is it possible for human beings to keep going, to keep trying. …

My testimony today is of the angels and ministers of grace who will always defend us… I testify this morning of God’s limitless love for his children, of his unquenchable desire to help us heal our wounds, individually and collectively. He is our Father, and Wordsworth wrote more than he knew when he said we came to earth “trailing clouds of glory … from God who is our home”

I feel so much hope when I think of the “angels and ministers of grace who will always defend us“! It is also very comforting to know that God has limitless love for us, and will help us heal our wounds!

Touching The Hem – James C. Christensen

In this second painting by Christensen, he says he wanted to capture “the woman’s believing heart and that magical moment when she touches Christ’s hem with the certainty that is faith in action and feels herself being made whole.” The red ribbon symbolizes her health problem–what the Bible calls “an issue of blood.” The checkerboard pattern is a symbol of life and death, good and evil. The light at the end of her finger represents the powerful moment when she touches His robe.

I love pondering this woman. She suffered for the majority of her life. All of that time, she must have been developing her “faith muscles” until the moment finally arrived for her to put her “faith into action and feel herself being made whole“. Or, as Elder Holland would say, God helped her heal her wounds.

In other words, WE each have POWER within us to “exercise our faith” and participate in healing, blessing and being a part of creating miracles. Not every blessing or miracle we ask Heaven for is going to be answered instantly or dramatically. Some things we may hope and pray for our whole life – despite exercising great faith – may never happen. But, I’ve learned when one door closes, another one opens. When one path is barred, a detour is provided, and it always leads us to important learning experiences we needed, and unexpected rewards we wouldn’t have received otherwise.

As Christensen described in the first painting above, “it is through the adversity we have endured we are able to enjoy the fruit

In this time of plague, when the only thing that feels certain is uncertainty, and our only option is to “wait upon the Lord”, I am reminded of the story of the ancient Hebrew slaves who suffered plagues and miraculous deliverance from Egypt. In the musical “Prince of Egypt” depicting the Hebrew story there is a song just when the slaves are about to give up hope, called When You Believe. I think it’s very applicable for us!

Many night’s we’ve prayed

With no proof anyone could hear

In our hearts a hopeful song We barely understood.

Now we are not afraid

Although we know there’s much to fear

We were moving mountains long before we knew we could

There can be miracles if you believe!

Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill

Who knows what miracles you can achieve?

When you believe, somehow you will.

You will, when you believe.

When You Believe – Composer, Lyricist: Stephen Schwartz

There will be deliverance from this plague. There will be many miracles! In times of despair, look for the “fruits” in your life – the unexpected blessings – that are happening because of the adversity & challenge you are enduring.

Be safe and well my friends, Holly

1 Comment

  1. There have been many stories of miracles during this time of trial. Just heard on the local news a lady at a nursing home in KY has recovered from the virus. She is 103. That is a miracle. Holly, I know you love Brian Stokes Mitchell. Don’t know if you saw this story on the CBS Nightly news about him. Here is a link:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/video/broadway-performer-on-a-quest-to-spread-joy-in-his-neighborhood/

    What a blessing to everyone who hears his voice. Praying for you and your family every night. Love you, Lynne

    Liked by 1 person

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