A passage read in church two weeks ago touched me greatly.
Those who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) may not know some of the amazing stories of pioneers who made their way across the country to the Salt Lake Valley. One of the most heartbreaking was the Martin Handcart Company.
Because of the unexpected delays and other unfortunate circumstances, over two hundred members of the Willie and Martin handcart companies died before they could reach the Salt Lake Valley. None of the other handcart companies coming to the valley before or after them suffered so many problems.
Some years after the Martin company made their journey to Salt Lake City, a teacher in a Church class commented how foolish it was for the Martin company to come across the plains when it did. The teacher criticized the Church leaders for allowing a company to make such a journey without more supplies and protection.
An old man sitting in the classroom listened for a few moments and then spoke out, asking that the criticism be stopped. He said, “Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it. … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with him in our extremities [difficulties].
“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”
During our trials and struggles, do we ever look back to see who is pushing us through? I know there have been many times the angels of God have pushed me onward. How selfish I've been not to acknowledge that.
This gentleman (who had been through hell and back) stated, "Everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with him in our extremities. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay".
Is it possible to consider my trials, including infertility, as a privilege? It takes such a strong person to think of hardships in this way. I'm afraid I am not that strong.
Although I have never experienced a fraction of the heartache felt by the Martin Handcart Company, I believe in the last six years I have come to know God more now than I ever have before.
And for that, I am grateful.