Feed your FAITH and your fears will starve .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blessings of Adversity

Trent was asked to speak about a month ago in Stake Priesthood Mtg that was yesterday.  He had been preparing for quite a while and was excited to have the opportunity.  Then we found out about the new chemo plan and it didn't fit really well with the meeting.  He was scheduled to have his Neulasta shot 24-48 hours after the completion of chemo, so we waited until just after he finished his talk to give it to him because it always hits him really hard.  He spoke yesterday at 7:30 am and I gave the shot at about 8:45 am (hour 46 post chemo).  Almost immediately afterward he tanked.  He did make it to church but I had to come home to get him pain meds and make him a shake.  We figured everyone would excuse the 32 oz mug he sipped on through Sunday School. :)  He slept all the way through sacrament and crashed as soon as we got home.  He is really having some bad pain right now and is just plain feeling horrible.  I hope this round at least gives him a couple of good weeks before we do it all over again.  It is so frustrating for both of us because he was doing so well and then he bottoms out like this. Ugh.  The thought of possibly three more rounds is depressing.  However, there are greater powers at work here and I know that, so we pray continually for patience.

Trent wanted to share the talk he gave yesterday on the Blessings of Adversity.  It pretty much sums up how he has viewed this whole experience.  I really wish I could have been there to hear it.  I thought I might have to give it for him because he was so sick.  He took Zach instead, just in case Zach needed to read it for him.  We heard from many people yesterday how powerful the meeting was and how inspirational Trent's message was.  I hope you enjoy it as much as they did!

The Blessings of Adversity 
I consider it a great privilege to have this opportunity to be able to speak with you about the tremendous blessings that are abundantly given when adversity befalls each of us.  Waiting upon God with great patience and having an unbending faith that He will hear our pleas, answer our prayers, provide comfort and hope are essential components of the Plan of Salvation that bind us eternally together.  I testify that our Heavenly Father is acutely aware of our needs and that He is in absolute control.  If we are able to step away from the challenges we face for a moment, there is ample evidence of divine intervention, where God has placed both people and circumstances in our path to help strengthen us individually and as families in times of unimaginable adversity.  He knows exactly what we will need to overcome those trials.  The Plan of Salvation that encompasses every aspect of this mortal existence is there for each of us to benefit from in times of calm and during the storms of our lives.

In the New Testament (JAMES 1:2-3) the apostle James counsels “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations” the Joseph Smith Translation substitutes temptations as “many afflictions”.  Indeed this mortal life is full of afflictions that are meant to prove us worthy and more importantly to gain access to the blessings promised for pursuing after righteousness.  James also states the following “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith work patience”.  It is because of our willingness to surrender our will to God through patience and long suffering that we relinquish control to the one individual with a complete understanding of what is best.  That exercise of faith requires a mortal being with limited sight to trust an immortal being with a perfect view from beginning to end.

It’s crucial that I begin with a brief explanation of the circumstances that have defined my recent life.  To merely state that over the course of this past year and a half I was sick, would be a gross understatement.  After being misdiagnosed for five months, it was in May of 2010 that I was correctly diagnosed with stage IV cancer and the life I knew, would never again be the same.  This was brought on without any warning, no known cause, and a mystery that has baffled the medical staff dedicated to preserving my life.  We started with two very aggressive rounds of chemotherapy because of the advanced nature of the disease.  They were unsuccessful and complicated by a staph infection that threatened to take my life.  A decision was made to immediately remove the college football size tumor that had developed on my hip and treat the infection.   After recovering for a short time, it was determined that two more rounds of chemo should ensue to battle the remaining tumors that had grown in my lungs, but this too was unsuccessful.  With no signs of tangible progress, another change was mandated that ultimately entailed an additional seven rounds of chemotherapy.  It was nothing short of miraculous that in February of 2011 I finally qualified for thoracic surgery, to remove the few remaining tumors from my body.   

We moved forward with the hope that this ordeal was far behind our family and we would be fortunate enough to continue onward with the pursuits of life. However, in June another tumor was found and two more rounds of chemo have ensued.  Our last scan determined that the tumor was still growing and at least two or possibly four more rounds of chemo, and probably another surgery is in the works to remove this new tumor. 
  Every aspect of being ill from the aches, pain, nausea, fever, chills etc. I have experienced over and over again and to extremes during this adversity.  I would spend the entire year in bed, unable to do much of anything for myself, a glaring contrast to the way I had lived my life before, now completely dependent upon others for everything.   With these events unfolding day by day our family’s future was very uncertain and yet there was great peace in knowing that whatever was going to happen would ultimately be for the very best.  I learned to trust more absolutely in God.

The scriptures repeatedly testify to the many types of adversity we face and the opportunities given to each of us to overcome those trials.  It is a tender mercy from God that there are blessings found when our spirits and physical bodies are broken.  In the Old Testament, (Psalms 145:9), David proclaims “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works”.  All too often the negative aspects seemingly outweigh the positive if we fail to recognize how much of our lives are truly impacted by God.  There has been ample evidence of God’s tender mercies repeated countless times during this trial that have demonstrated His magnificent love and concern for our family.   I have found solace in the teachings from the prophets that proclaim how adversity has the ability to draw us closer to God and the abundant blessing He desperately wants to provide to His children. 

Perhaps the counsel given in the Book of Mormon, from Lehi, a father, to his son, Jacob about “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11) is a timeless reminder that this life will be full of challenges.  It’s because of this opposition that the greatest growth occurs.  To understand the admonition from the prophet Lehi “righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.  Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one.” we need this opposition in order to meet our full potential.  It’s a necessary part of our development as spiritual beings, living a mortal existence, to face adversity.  This adversity allows each of us the opportunity to more fully appreciate how wonderful our Heavenly Father is.  If we step back from our reality and look at the bigger picture we will assuredly see the hand of the Lord guiding us, protecting us, and providing a way long before and during our most difficult and trying times.  We have never been left to do it alone.  How humbling this has been for us to witness.

In the (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7) the Lord spoke to the prophet Joseph Smith while imprisoned in jail at Liberty, Missouri and proclaimed “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” We know that this was a time of great distress because of the tremendous persecutions the saints were facing and that the pressure was deeply troubling for the prophet.  In the midst of this adversity the saints were being prepared for incredible blessings due to their faithfulness. 

I have also felt on many occasions that in the deepest moments of despair that the blessings our little family was receiving were not only giving us valuable experience but were also for our eternal benefit.  However discouraging and ugly cancer was in a physical and mental state, it has been comforting that our spiritual framework was sound.  It provided the necessary relief that acted as a counter balance to the disruptive forces that were attacking my system.  I’m thankful for the teachings of the scriptures and the simple fact that they provide strength when times are dark and uncertain.  The comfort gained from reading these passages in the scriptures is quite remarkable.  I have experienced it time and again during this battle.

The hymn “Be Still My Soul”, # 124, has messages that are quite profound.  In the first verse written by Katherine von Schlegel, she eloquently demonstrates the calming effect that is attainable when we turn to God and place our faith, devotion and hope towards the Lord, that anything is truly possible.
1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2. Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
In the third verse we’re reminded about the disappointment, grief and fear disappearing and love’s purest joy restored.  How magnificent a reward to have all safe and blessed when it counts the most.  I sincerely hope that I’ll endure this trial well.  I have witnessed through Priesthood blessings, charitable acts, family fasting, prayer and service rendered that “love’s purest joy restored” is absolutely real.
3. Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

In the beginning of this trial, the effects of this disease were terrifying and the range of emotions surrounding our immediate future was overwhelming.  The mere thought of having a disease that would brutally attack my body without regard was challenging to cope with. 

My concern was directly related to the possibility of not being able to care for my family’s immediate needs and provide the necessary opportunities for their future growth and welfare.  Their well-being was weighing heavily on my mind.  It was at this difficult moment that I was given a priesthood blessing from our bishop in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Bishop Hahne declared that I would be made whole and live to raise my children to maturity.  He confided much later that it had been a real trial of his faith because although he had been prompted to say those words during that blessing, as a medical doctor he knew of nothing that supported what he said.  These promises have since been repeated numerous times in subsequent blessings of healing and comfort throughout a very difficult year.  I have grown to appreciate the real power of the priesthood in action and have seen a peace restored in my life regarding the direction that Heavenly Father desires for my life.  I have developed a more abiding love and respect for Him because I have witnessed His remarkable love and concern for me, individually.  Knowing and feeling of this genuine love helps us overcome the most challenging obstacles we may face.

There have been several instances where we have seen the love of our Heavenly Father through people He has placed in our lives.  When I had first fallen ill, I was an unemployed graduate student and my wife was only working part time and we did not qualify for insurance with her company.  The expenses for the treatment of cancer are staggering and without insurance we would have been sunk.  Before the MRI confirmed that it was indeed cancer , my wife’s boss, Craig Larabee,  had suspicions that it was worse than what we were expecting and had already decided to grant my wife full time status with the necessary amount of hours to qualify for full coverage.  He was willing to give up his personal vacation days to help guarantee the policy would be intact when we needed it and make certain that our family was okay.  This act of kindness continues to resonate with his constant worry for our family throughout this ordeal and we are eternally grateful to Heavenly Father for Craig’s powerful influence in our life.  This was not a coincidence.  He is a genuine friend that has strengthened my wife’s testimony quite significantly by helping her recognize Gods hand in all things.  His church group would immediately bring in boxes of food, supplies for our home, gifts for our kids and most important, prayers on our behalf.

To this day the idea of other Christian denominations actively praying for a sick father of five who happens to be LDS has been inspiring.  I have been humbled by this charitable act because I know for a fact that it did not happen just once but in many cases has continually occurred throughout the year.  Bereans, Catholics, Lutherans, and Latter-Day Saints, etc., pleading to heaven for a common cause, many individuals whom I have never personally met are examples of truly wonderful people and it’s profoundly humbling to have strangers pray on your behalf. 

Another incredible blessing has been returning home to Brigham City to live with the Frandsen’s.  We have sincerely appreciated the genuine kindness and concern shown for our family at a time when everything normal in our lives was turned upside down.  We would have experienced something very different had we not been able to have a place to live and focus entirely on simply enduring this trial without so many additional worries that our family was faced with.  They have been nothing short of outstanding and exemplify charity at every turn.  It has become a huge blessing that we will always hold dear and perhaps never be able to repay. 
These are just a few examples of the blessings that we have witnessed firsthand through adversity.  Despite the challenges that have shaken our foundation we are more able to handle these various problems because we have been strengthened repeatedly and felt the guiding influence of our Heavenly Father.  I take great comfort in the opportunity I’ve been given to wait upon the Lord. In the New Testament, (2 Corinthians 12:10) the apostle Paul wrote “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities….for when I am weak, then I am strong.” This statement is applicable to any situation because when things seem impossible they are actually achievable through Christ.  I marvel that He willingly experienced the pain, suffering, sorrow and despair through the atonement that would allow for a much greater understanding of the obstacles we face.

I have gained a tremendous level of gratitude for the pure blessings of the gospel.  The positive influence on our family has been manifest through numerous acts of compassion, love and service given through grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins.  It has most assuredly provided a constant protection in the thick of the storm.  Having this knowledge has reminded me of the amazing love that our Heavenly Father and Christ have for each one of us no matter the difficulty we face.  I’m thankful for the blessings made available through adversity that demonstrate how the Plan of Salvation is meant to save us all.  I love what the gospel represents that no matter how difficult things may be there is always hope. 

Perhaps the greatest measurable blessing of adversity is being able to know our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.  It’s this relationship that has provided a sure foundation, where waiting upon the Lord with faith and patience is a blessing that we should all strive for in our lives.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides safety with the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is waiting with open arms for our return.  The lessons I’ve learned over this last year as we have battled cancer have assured me that developing patience and faith in God’s plan is a remarkably powerful means to overcome the problems we face in this lifetime.  I am grateful for all of these blessings found through adversity, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

Trent Hal Rasmussen/Stake Priesthood Meeting/July 17th, 2011                                                                                                   


  1. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

  2. Wow! That was wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Trent you were a very great friend to me in high school. I am sorry for what you are going though. You can bet that all the prayers i can send are on their way. if there is ever anything i can do to help you or your beautiful family please feel free to ask. Thank You Friend, Rulin Park

  4. Trent, your words were so inspirational and your testimony is so powerful. Thanks for sharing your talk with us.

    Scott and Heather Church