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Author learns firsthand of adversity after writing book

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"WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US ABOUT ADVERSITY," by S. Michael Wilcox, Deseret Book, 2010, 152 pages, $19.99

When S. Michael Wilcox began dissecting the scriptures to find insights for his new book, "What the Scriptures Teach Us About Adversity," he had no idea how much those principles would come to mean to him and his family.

Only months before the book's release, his wife Laura was diagnosed with a stage-3 inoperable malignant tumor in her brain.

"All of the sudden what I had written was more than theology, it was a reality for us. I had to go back through the book. It was a preparation for me, I suppose, in many ways," Wilcox said. "I would apply the very things I had written to my own life. All the principles I found have proved to be valid and comforting as we go through this difficult time."

Wilcox said medically, things don't look good. The cancer continued to spread despite radiation treatment. It's in the Lord's hands now, said the author and retired CES instructor.

"We have done all we can, which God expects of us. So however this is going to end up, it will be good. It will be a manifestation of God's love for us and we will accept it as a gift and as his love in our behalf," he said.

From the small disappointments to the life-shattering, dream-shaking moments, everyone faces hardship. Because adversity is so common, the scriptures address all kinds of situations in daily life, Wilcox said. Page by page, he scanned the standard works in search of stories, principles and insights. The father of five is grateful for what he learned. He was also quick to point out these are not his ideas, but the Lord's principles.

"It turned out to be a lens that I could view my wife and family situation through that gave greater clarity to what we were going through. The scriptures do work," Wilcox said. "I am grateful I approached the scriptures thinking of adversity because at a time when I needed these principles they were fresh and alive in my mind and I could draw on them as I needed them."

From the persecution of the Prophet Joseph Smith to stories from the Old and New Testaments, Wilcox has compiled numerous examples of dealing with adversity. He especially admires the example of the Savior, who "during his difficult part, turned outward and looked to help and comfort other people," he said.

The book, however, doesn't have all the answers, Wilcox said. Mankind has always asked why God allows inhumanity, cruel behavior, horrible diseases and the suffering of little children. While some questions are never completely answered, truth seekers may take some satisfaction in knowing great men of the scriptures have asked the same questions.

"There are times I look at heaven and say, 'Lord, who is running the show? How could you let this happen? How can you let people do these things to one another?' Those are tough questions, and the scriptures give some answers but they don't settle it," he said. "Jeremiah, Malachi and Joseph Smith asked those questions, so it must be all right for Mike Wilcox to ask them and not get satisfactory answers."

Ultimately, Wilcox hopes the words in his book will help people to not just endure life and trials, but to live joyfully with hope, even in the midst of discouraging times.

"I think the scriptures are there to help us get through those times. I hope (this book) turns people into the scriptures. I may not have found all the scriptures that will help in a particular situation, but if they just realize there are answers here and they turn themselves to them the Holy Ghost will help find what they need."

e-mail: ttoone@desnews.com