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A blessing in disguise

Lynn Olsen Published on 12 November 2014
Work blesses generations

“Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success.”
—David O. McKay

As I was driving home from work recently, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, not only for the beautiful area in which I am blessed to live but also for the bounties of the harvest I observed all around me.

Near our office was a field of dry beans being combined. Just a short way down the road was a truck full of sugar beets, ready to be weighed at the local stockpile.

Around the first corner, potatoes were being dug. Only a bit further down the road, a field of fresh-cut alfalfa was lying in the field. And making the last turn before my house, I passed two loads of chopped corn, heading to a nearby silage pile. What a marvelous time of year!

Sometimes it’s easy to look at the end result and forget what went into getting the crops to this point, though. We forget that the plenty didn’t come without previous efforts.

It came because of careful planning, planting and care throughout the growing season. It took a lot of effort to get to this stage and to be able to enjoy the rewards.

The law of the harvest says that we will reap what we sow, but sowing involves work. We don’t get to enjoy the harvest without that work. You can’t just see a seed sitting in a bag and not plant it in the ground.

And you can’t just randomly scatter the seeds on top of the ground, or plant them and forget about them. Harvesting a bountiful crop takes diligence and effort, and people involved in agriculture do this better than almost anyone I know.

The principle of work has been around since the very beginning. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread …” (Genesis 3:19), but he also told him that “… cursed is the ground for thy sake.” (Genesis 3:17; emphasis added).

For Adam’s sake? It may seem strange to some that the earth was being cursed, but that it was also for his benefit. How was this a blessing? And is it still a blessing for us today?

F. David Stanley has said, “We are what we are as a people because our ancestors were not afraid of honest, hard work. Our forefathers understood the necessity of it; sheer survival demanded it.

A common ingredient among all successful people is an understanding of what constitutes paying the price of success. Basic in that formula of paying the price is an inner gift of determination that ‘I’ll do whatever it takes.’ That means, ‘I’ll work hard, with integrity, to achieve my goal.’

“Hard work is a blessing of God. It involves going after it with all (your abilities). That alone is the difference between the average and the excellent.”

One of my favorite childhood stories is “The Little Red Hen.” There are several variations of the tale, but the story goes that the little red hen finds some grains of wheat and asks a few of the barnyard animals to help her plant them. They do not want to help, so she does it herself.

When it comes time to water and harvest the wheat, then mill it into flour, they once again decline opportunities to do the work, so she does it herself. When it comes time to make and bake the bread, still no one is willing to help. So she also does that herself.

Finally the bread is baked, and it’s time to partake. Suddenly the farm animals are eager to be a part, but the little red hen explains that since she is the one that did the work, she will be the only one to eat the bread.

Now some might say that the hen was selfish, not being willing to share, but she was simply able to benefit from her individual efforts. This lesson is an important one.

We learn to appreciate what we have by putting forth the effort to achieve it. Few things compare to the sense of accomplishment that comes to a person who has worked hard and done something well.

In another analogy, Stanley says, “Great athletes are hard workers. Points, rebounds, assists, tackles, goals and home runs are all the result of long hours of painstaking practice and hard work.

The bulk of that practice will always be on your own, away from the coach. Victory is brought to pass by one’s personal diligence and commitment to hard work.

The view of a champion, and the glory that surrounds him, must never be overshadowed by the long process of becoming one. There is a time of preparation and a time of victory. The second mile of hard work is what makes the difference between the exhilaration of achievement and the acceptance of mediocrity.”

It’s the hard work, time and effort that helps us improve. We learn by doing, struggling and finally succeeding. And that is what makes us better people.

So, yes – work is a blessing. I am grateful to all those in our country who labor each day to keep us safe and protected and who make it possible for us to enjoy the many things that make our lives more comfortable. I’m grateful for moms and dads who spend time raising their children to be good people.

But especially during this season of harvest, I am grateful for the hard-working farmers and ranchers in our country that provide us with safe and nutritious food to eat.

Let us follow their example and work diligently in whatever field we are in. Take pride in your work. Teach your children to work.

As recommended by Korsaren: “If you are poor, work. … If you are happy, work. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If disappointments come, keep right on working. If sorrow overwhelms you, … work. … When faith falters and reason fails, just work. When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead, work. Work as if your life were in peril. It really is. No matter what ails you, work.” (“The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life,” New York: Forbes Inc., 1968, p. 427.)  FG

The value of work blesses lives for generations, as demonstrated by Victor Emanuel Bean (left), with his sons Vern, Ariel, Walter, Ellis, Grant and Jeff, as they head out to irrigate in North Powder, Oregon, circa 1913. Family photo provided by Lynn Jaynes.