With the commencement of summer finals and fall semester, challenging times are nothing foreign to BYU students and faculty. Tuesday morning, they received counsel on how to overcome trying times.
Janet Bradford, a librarian in the HBLL for 25 years, said “opposition in all things,” or both good and bad times, are a part of life. She specifically referenced the history of Aug. 2 (the day of the Devotional), stating in her research as a librarian that she found some interesting historical events on that day, specifically birthdays and deaths.
She said among those who were born were Irish actor Peter O’ Toole in 1932 and Andrew Gold, who inspired the theme song for the popular TV series “The Golden Girls,” in 1951. A few deaths she referenced were the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, in 1922, as well as American ventriloquist Shari Lewis, the former hostess of “Lamb Chops Play Along,” in 1998.
Bradford also made reference to a few specific good and bad events which occurred on Aug. 2.
“I discovered that in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was actually signed on Aug. 2,” Bradford said. “In 1790, the first U.S. Census was conducted; and in 1870 the Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube, opened in London. Aug. 2 also had its share of tragedy. In 1922, a typhoon hit China killing more than 50,000 people; in 1934, Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany; and in 1980, a bomb exploded at a railway station in Bologna, Italy, killing 85 people and wounding more than 200.”
Bradford said similar results could be found researching any day of the year. The point she was trying to make was that good and bad things happen each day somewhere in the world. She mentioned there are short time intervals between good and bad times.
“I think that sometimes that the difference between a good and bad day is about 24 hours,” Bradford said.
Bradford gave the example of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who had to remind himself every morning that as he put his trust in God, that trying times would work themselves out. Bradford said President Hinckley’s approach to trying times was a great example for all of us.
“If President Hinckley needed to remind himself daily to carry on, then we probably need to be reminding ourselves even more,” Bradford said.
Bradford presented specific ways we can overcome trying times and carry on with life. She compared the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi as an example of asking God to be an instrument in his hands as a way to carry on through difficult times.
“This simple prayer contains profound truths,” Bradford said. “The imagery of becoming an instrument in the Lord’s hands is beautiful and is my first guideline for carrying on. This has become my motto.”
She said the study of hymns in daily worship, whether it is in reading scriptures, saying prayers, or other personal forms of worship is another way to carry on. Some specific hymns that helped her carry on were “ There is a Green Hill Far Away,” “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” and “We Are All Enlisted.”
Bradford said she got married later in life, and this was a difficult experience for her. One hymn that aided her in this specific trial was “Where Can I Turn for Peace?”
“Turning to the hymns on many lonely evenings lifted my spirits and helped me to maintain eternal perspective,” Bradford said. “Where could I turn for peace? Where was my solace? Where was the quiet hand to calm my anguish? Who, who could understand? He, only one.”