Before being called as a General Authority the Cook’s had their patience and faith tired. This account shows how the Lord deals with His people, how He trieth their faith and then rewards them according to their faithfulness.
The following account is from the life of Elder Gene R. Cook. It was published in his book, Raising Up a Family to the Lord, Pages XXII to XXVII.
“…the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Mosiah 23:21.
“Let me share a personal experience that taught us to better trust in the Lord even in the face of challenges and trials. Perhaps this example will start us at the beginning, before children arrive in a family on earth.
After my mission, I had a great desire to be married. Part of that feeling came from a young lady who waited two and a half years for me. More importantly, though, I had studied the scriptures enough to know, in some measure, the great value of being married and raising a family.
When I returned home, things did not work out with the young lady who had waited for me. Seven months later, though, I married Janelle Schlink in the Mesa Arizona Temple. We both had great desires to have a family and were pleased and delighted that at last the time had come when we could do so. Our friends began to have their families-a boy here, a girl there. Nine months passed, a year, a year and a half, two years of waiting. Still no children came.
I gave my wife priesthood blessings two or three times during those years, promising that she would conceive and bear children. Still nothing happened. Three years, then three and a half years went by, and then four. During this time, my wife had a miscarriage that was very traumatic. That was the only time I saw her discouraged. I suppose our desires and expectations were so high that to finally conceive and then to lose the baby was devastating.
Finally five years passed by. We determined to seriously consider adoption. I spent a number of occasions alone over a period of weeks praying about it, as my wife felt better about adopting than I did. Finally, I definitely received an answer that we should adopt. It helped me when I recalled that Jesus was adopted by Joseph, the husband of Mary; that Joseph Smith had two adopted children; and that one of my best friends had just adopted a baby girl. All in all, it felt like the right thing to do.
We put our names in for adoption through the Relief Society and were informed that it would be perhaps a year or more until we would be able to have a baby. The wait began.
A Priesthood Blessing
About this same time, we went to the Arizona Temple. After the session, we were visiting with a good brother, a longtime family friend. As we visited, it was determined that he ought to provide a blessing to my wife. We were overjoyed, as we knew that he was very close to the Lord. We told him we would be glad to have the blessing but thought we should fast and pray about it. We set a date for a few days later when we would all fast and come together for the blessing.
The appointed day arrived. We went to this good brother’s home in the spirit of fasting and prayer. He gave my wife a beautiful blessing, very similar to those I had given her. He promised her that she would have natural children.
We left his home filled with the Spirit. To our great delight, about six weeks later the doctor confirmed that she was pregnant. We surely thanked the Lord in prayer and in fasting for the blessing we had received, trying to put as much effort into giving thanks as we had in asking for the blessing. We also called the adoption agency and had our names taken off the list, saying, “We’re going to have our own baby now. Adoption won’t be necessary.” Our joy increased as the months passed by.
About four months into the pregnancy, I arrived home from work one day to find my wife weeping. She had just arrived home from the doctor’s office; the doctor had found that the fetus was dead and would have to be removed immediately.
This was one of the only times I have hardened my heart against the Lord. “What more can we do?” I thought. “We’re trying to keep the commandments. Thou hast commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth. We’ve fasted. We’ve prayed. We’ve had blessings. We’ve waited for five years. Thou hast not answered our prayers. And now we have to go through another miscarriage.”
My wife said, “We’ve got to go right now. The hospital is waiting for us.” Her bag was packed, and we went to the car to leave. As we drove out, she told me we ought to go by and tell this good brother and his wife about it. I said, “No, absolutely not.” Feeling as I did at that moment, the last person I wanted to talk to was this spiritual priesthood holder who had given her the blessing. I refused to go.
As we drove off, my wife persisted. I continued to tell her no, that we wouldn’t stop. Fortunately, this good brother’s home was on the way to the hospital. She continued to persist. Finally I said, “Well, you go in. I’ll just wait in the car.” But that would not do; she thought I should be the one to tell them. I finally consented to briefly go in.
We knocked on the door. As soon as the man’s wife saw us, she knew something was wrong. I emotionally blurted out what had happened, asked her to tell her husband, and then turned to leave. However, this faithful brother was in the next room and heard what was said. He immediately walked into the living room, fell to his knees, and said, “Let’s pray.” His wife knelt down, and my wife went over and knelt down. I was left standing there with no desire whatsoever to pray. Finally, probably from the pressure, I knelt down as well.
Then I learned a great lesson that has helped me with others on many occasions since that time. I heard a servant of the Lord pray with all of his soul. He poured out his heart, telling the Lord we didn’t know why this had happened but that the priesthood blessing was still in full force. He said that we would humbly submit to this trial in spite of the apparent problems and difficulties and our strong feelings about them. He said that we knew the Lord loved us, and that we loved the Lord and would do whatever he commanded us to do. He confirmed with the Lord that we would humbly submit to this trial and to any other that might come-that we would trust in God.
This great leader in the priesthood, in that brief prayer, softened my heart. He removed, by the Spirit, all of my anger. He invited the Spirit of the Lord to return to me and humbled me, for which I will be ever grateful. We then left, humbled in spirit even though still saddened. We went to the hospital, where the surgery was performed.
A few days later I was again alone in prayer. I felt a strong impression that my wife and I should immediately call the Relief Society adoption agency and put our names back on the list for adoptions. “Do it now,” the Spirit whispered. “Right now!”
My wife and I immediately called them. They said, “We’re glad to reinstate your name on the list. However, because you canceled out, it will take about a year and a half wait now.”
We said, “Well, that’s all right. We just want our names back on the list.”
About three weeks later, I received a phone call at work. The Relief Society sister on the other end of the line said, “Would you like to have a baby son? If so, come and get him right now.” I called my wife and rushed home. We could hardly believe our good fortune! We ran to the store to buy some diapers. We didn’t even have any place to put the baby.
When we got to the adoption agency, they left the baby in a room with us and said, “We’ll give you a few minutes to look him over and decide whether you really want him.” He was unclothed. We checked him over from head to foot and found him in perfect condition. We just wept for joy.
We told them we would be very pleased to have him. We signed the papers, and the caseworker said, “As you know, there were many, many people before you on the list. You would have had a long time yet to wait, even if you had not taken your name off the list the first time. But as we went through the pictures of the families, we tried to place the baby but couldn’t. We went over and over the pictures of people who were on the list way ahead of you. None of them felt right. We finally got down to some of the relatively new applicants, namely the Cooks, and felt the Spirit tell us, ‘Place the boy there.’ For that reason we called you.”
We were overjoyed as we took the baby home. He ended up sleeping in a chest of drawers for the first few nights. We didn’t have furniture, clothing, blankets, or anything for him as he was totally unexpected.
What a great joy to us to finally have a son! I’m sure we must have been the happiest parents in all of Mesa, Arizona. He was our boy. About a year and a half later, after the adoption was final, we had the great joy of taking him to the Arizona Temple to have him sealed to us for time and all eternity. At last we had a son. At last we were on our way to fulfilling the injunction of the Lord to multiply and replenish the earth.
About a year and a half later, six and a half years into our marriage, our first natural son arrived. A year and a half later another son came. Then a daughter arrived less than two years later. Another daughter graced our home three years after that. Then another son came less than two years later. He was followed by another son four years after that. Three years later another beautiful daughter arrived. How blessed we have been with our children!
Truly the Lord answers prayers and fulfills all of his promises. He has said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20).
How true also are the words of Moroni, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).
True it is that “after much tribulation come the blessings” (D&C 58:4).
It is easy to see, after the fact, the involvement of the Lord in an experience such as this one. I’m sure having had that challenge of no children for so many years caused us to do our best to be prepared when the children did come. We thank the Lord for a good family, as I’m sure you do as you think of your family.
I bear testimony that the Lord fulfills his promises. If we will do our part, be patient, and keep the commandments, the Lord will answer our prayers concerning our families. He will bless us in our sacred duty to raise up our children unto him.”
Raising Up a Family to the Lord, Pages XXII to XXVII