Handicaps, afflictions come to the innocent

Humanity has always included a sprinkling of those who have learning or communication disorders, or mental, physical or emotional impairment, said Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve at the April 1991 general conference. Those who lovingly care for them live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in exceptional purity, he noted.

"It is natural for parents with handicapped children to ask themselves, 'What did we do wrong?' The idea that all suffering is somehow the direct result of sin has been taught since ancient times. It is false doctrine. That notion was even accepted by some of the early disciples until the Lord corrected them.

" 'As Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

" 'And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

" 'Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.' " (John 9:1-3.)

Elder Packer said that there is little room for feelings of guilt in connection with handicaps. "Some handicaps may result from carelessness or abuse, and some through addiction of parents. But most of them do not. Afflictions come to the innocent.

"The very purpose for which the world was created and man introduced to live upon it, requires that the laws of nature operate in cold disregard for human feelings," he said. "We must work out our salvation without expecting the laws of nature to be exempted."