Music & the Spoken Word: Resilience — a choice

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music & the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir prepares to resume the weekly performances. This will be given Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.

Whenever we see a wildflower pushing through a crack in concrete, we marvel at its determination to thrive. A seed landed in a difficult spot, but it had the tenacity to grow and bloom anyway.

We feel the same rush of admiration for trees that spring up after a devastating fire. When everything seemed ruined, somehow nature won and life continued.

Many of us are like those determined seeds, those persistent trees. We’ve found ourselves in a difficult spot, or we’ve experienced a devastating tragedy: financial or health losses, death of loved ones, lost opportunities. Can we possibly grow and bloom in such conditions?

Religious leader Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf [of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles] said, “It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop” (see “Your Happily Ever After,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010).

Our attitude really can make all the difference. A woman who lost her restaurant during the pandemic immediately set up a takeout company. She made ends meet until she finally grew it into a catering business. She worked hard and refused to give up, and her determination paid off.

And we all know people whose early childhood seemed to set them up for failure, yet they defied the odds and joyfully built a happy, successful life. In their adversity, they learned to forgive, to take responsibility for their own growth, and to be resilient. As the expression goes, instead of cursing the rain, they built a boat.

Among the many things we can’t choose about our life, we can always choose our goals, our work ethic and our attitude. Even setbacks, though we’d never choose them, can be blessings when they lead us to explore other avenues. In time, we feel grateful for the better job we found after we were laid off or the compassion we feel toward the grief-stricken after our own period of grieving.

Helen Keller is a remarkable example of someone who overcame the incredible disadvantages of being both blind and deaf. She not only learned to sign and speak; she also became a worldwide inspirational leader. From her unique perspective, she observed in “Optimism: An Essay,” “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, KSL.comBYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), thetabernaclechoir.orgYouTube and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages