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At the April 1980 general conference, Elder Howard W.Hunter, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told of joining a large crowd to watch the long-boat races in Samoa.

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“The crowd was restless,” he said,“and most eyes were turned toward the sea, watching for the first glimpse of the [boats]. Suddenly there was a roar from the crowd as the boats came into sight in the distance. Each of them had a crew of fifty powerful oarsmen dipping and pulling the oars with a rhythm that forced the crafts through the waves and foaming water—a beautiful sight.

“The boats and men were soon in full view as theyraced toward the finish. Even though these powerful men pulled with their might, the weight of a boat with fifty men moved against a powerful adverse force—the resistance of the water.

“The cheering of the crowd reached a crescendo whenthe first long-boat crossed the finish line.”

After the race, Elder Hunter walked to where the boats were docked and spoke with one of the oarsmen, who explained that the prow of the long-boat “is so constructed that it cuts through and divides the water to help overcome the resistance that retards the speed of the boat. He further explained that the pulling of the oars against the resistance of the water creates the force that causes the boat to move forward. Resistance creates both the opposition and the forward movement.”1

What would happen without adversity?

In order to have adversity, the men first needed to get into the boat.  Next, they needed water and a tool like oars to provide a way to create resistance.  If there were no oars and they sat in the water, they wouldn’t go where they wanted to go and would float aimlessly where ever the currents took them.  If there were no water and only oars, they wouldn’t even move anywhere.

Having resistance isn’t enough though.  They could be all the smartest, strongest, well-trained athletes and have the best oars and boat but if they didn’t communicate effectively and paddle together, they wouldn’t move forward towards their goal of the finish line.

Our Lives as a Boat Race

Each of us is on a journey.  We are all in the boat of life and have choices as we move through our journey.  Daily we have the choice to let adversity overtake us, or to use tools and communication strategies to use adversity to our advantage.

The tools we use to overcome our challenges may vary depending on our situation and struggle, but some tools and communication strategies will be universal.

These include tools and communication such as praying for strength, relying on friends and family, reading scriptures and other uplifting books for insight and understanding.  Cultivating deep relationships so we can have this communication is essential as well.  It is important to work and practice daily communication and relationship building with our Heavenly Father, Jesus, spouses, children, friends, members of our quorums, etc.  If we have been effective at this, it will make it so we can paddle through adversity and become stronger, rather than adversity overcoming us.

Questions to consider

How do you respond to adversity?

How has adversity and relying on God, family, and friends helped shape who you are?

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