A week ago, my in-laws were involved in a terrible traffic accident when a car turned into their lane and hit them head-on. Thankfully they avoided any life-threatening injuries, but it’s been a very difficult recovery process for both of them so far. Greg’s 80-year-old dad required surgery for a shattered hip and will be in a rehabilitative care center for at least a month. And while his 78-year-old mom only suffered a concussion, she’s covered with deep bruises and gashes from the force of the hit, and has needed home nursing care in order to recover. Needless to say, we’ve rallied as a family to do all we can to support them as they try to rest and heal from this awful trauma.
We were surprised when the texts and calls started coming in almost immediately. We soon learned that the accident had been featured on the local news (which means it also showed up on social media), and the love and concern began pouring in like a flood. Because Dad served as both a mission president and a temple president, comments literally came from all over the world. It meant a lot to read all the sweet words from friends and loved ones who so kindly offered their faith, prayers, and encouragement.
However, as I read all those texts and comments and even talked to friends who stopped us at Walmart, I noticed a theme that kept coming up again and again. It’s the idea that something like this should never have happened to them. That they shouldn’t have to go through something like this at their age. That they don’t deserve it after all the good things they’ve done. And I totally get it. We’ve all asked why when confronted with some sort of awful or unexpected adversity. Sometimes these kinds of horrible trials just don’t make any sense.
But even though I understand the sentiment, I’ve learned to think twice before entertaining those kinds of thoughts and beliefs. If I believe that serving enough or being a good enough person or even reaching a certain age means I’ll no longer have to go through any trials, then it’s really easy to blame God when those types of things do happen in my life or the lives of those I love.
Besides, I’ve never found a promise in the scriptures that if I do x, y, and z, then the Lord will remove all my hardship and adversity. That adversity is one of the most important things I came to earth to experience, and like my in-laws, it will most likely follow me until I take my very last breath. So to say that someone shouldn’t have to go through something or that they didn’t deserve something really seems to miss the whole point of mortality. Just look at what some of the Lord’s own apostles have experienced, like the death of a beloved spouse or cancer or severe illness. Elder Maxwell’s brutal battle with leukemia—not once, but twice—proves that no one is immune to challenges, no matter how righteous they may be.
If I’ve learned anything from our own adversity over the last year, it’s that our hardest trials often turn out to be blessings in disguise. The Lord truly hides some of His greatest treasures in the most daunting and difficult circumstances. That's definitely happened to us this year. Now that our life is settling down and we can look back on all we’ve gone through, every single one of us has said that we wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. There’s been too much growth, too many tender mercies, and too much heart-softening and life-changing and faith-growing. We’re all profoundly different, and we would choose to do it all over again just for that one reason.
So as hard as it has been to watch my in-laws struggle, I believe with all my heart that there will be great treasures hidden in the midst of their pain. The Lord wouldn’t have allowed this to happen unless He had a good reason—and I know that reason will manifest itself eventually. It reminds me of the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. If you’ve never heard it, take a minute to soak in the inspiring lyrics and see if they help you look at your own life challenges in a whole new light.