Life comes with difficulty. Joseph Smith said that God will feel after us, and He will take hold of us and wrench our very heartstrings. He wants to refine us as silver, and that takes heat. Adversity is part of the program. Job knew about it more than most. I have a brother who’s known quite a bit about it. He contracted a disease when he was ten and had to make some few adjustments to his lifestyle, as did our family. But other than that, he was able to do what most young men do. That went on for about a dozen years, and then things started to change quite drastically. Soon he lost his eyesight, and then his kidneys. The whole ordeal was very traumatic to his wonderful wife, and she decided it best if they parted ways. He moved back home with Mom and Dad and tried to go forward. The bodily and emotional pain was intense. His life seemed to have fallen apart. Living in a very distant city now, he could only realistically see his little daughter about six or seven weeks out of the year. It was hard for him to consistently work a job, so money was scarce. Yet through it all, he kept a positive attitude. No blaming. No complaining. He grew extremely close to his Savior and his Father in heaven. He was able to have a kidney transplant, which gave him a great boost and some more years on earth. But the disease worked its wretched course upon him and we watched his body slowly deteriorate. He had to have one leg amputated as well as some toes on his remaining foot. His nervous system was pushed to the limit. The pain was constant. He began having seizures here and there. Still, ever positive. “How are you today?” we would ask. “Doin’ great,” was his familiar reply. Always changing the subject, not wanting to dwell on it.
Sometimes our sicknesses and struggles are present to teach us things. Other times they are present to teach things to those around us. Bryan certainly was purified as silver. What about the rest of us…those who knew him and associated with him? We witnessed his heroic attitude…his remarkable faith in a Savior whom he understood so much more because of it all.
My brother was set free on May 1, 2001. He could see again. He could walk again. He could fly! What have I learned from him—isn’t that what we’re supposed to do, while we’re here? learn from each other! I’ve learned that life is a trail of tears. And whatever hasn’t killed us yet can make us stronger. Now you and I can get down about the dark clouds, the annoying wind, the rain blowing in our faces, the rocks we keep stubbing our toes on, the blisters, etc. But my brother, though he was basically blind could see what most of us miss. It’s that blasted rain we’re so angry at that’s making those flowers grow at our feet, lining our way to our journey’s end. There is happiness to be found in the midst of our difficulty and we can miss it if we don’t open our eyes and look for it. Joy is calling you and me! I love my brother for teaching me that. He never said it, but he lived it. And the vivid picture of him in my mind is worth more than ten thousand words!