Sister Benson

I’m reading President Benson’s biography. You probably already know that he grew up, the oldest of eleven children, on a sugar beet farm in Idaho. At one point, when his mother was expecting her eighth child, his father was called on a mission.

While he was gone, smallpox struck the family. Although no one died, it must have been an especially frightening time, since Sister Benson was still pregnant.

I was thinking about what it would be like to have seven kids (the oldest was 11), have a husband on the other end of the country for two years, be expecting a baby, have a farm to maintain if you wanted to eat, have no telephone, car, or running water. (I won’t mention the lack of Internet and air conditioning, my two favorite innovations.) I would imagine that her easiest day of work during this period of her life involved an exertion that would kill me, and I don’t think I am exaggerating.

We say, frequently, that God allows us to struggle and suffer for our own growth. Compared to Sister Benson, am I growing? I certainly am not struggling and suffering the way that she did. I wonder how any of us might expect to look Sister Benson in the eyes and claim that our mortal experience tried or challenged us in the way that hers did. She is, of course, not an exception. I’ll spare you the stories of people walking across the plains while their bare feet left a trail of blood in the snow.

I feel weak, lazy, and ungrateful.

4 comments for “Sister Benson

  1. Julie in Austin
    April 25, 2004 at 8:32 pm


  2. April 25, 2004 at 9:27 pm

    Even more, to have given away your inheritance so that everything you did, you did yourself.

    But, it isn’t just the saints in generations past:

    to re-tell a story:


    My Dad talked about a friend of his from Burundi. The man left for his field one day and returned to find all of his neighbors, all of his friends, and all of his family dead in ethnic violence. Only his mother in Tanzania was alive, so he began to walk East towards the coast.

    He had little or nothing and eventually failed of his strength and fell down to die. As he lay there, he saw some orange peels that someone had thrown on the ground. He ate them and recovered his strength and lived. That is hardship of the type that I am grateful to God that I have not had to live through.


  3. Julie in Austin
    April 26, 2004 at 12:34 am


    I am not sure, but I think you may be confusing Sister Benson ETB’s mother with Sister Benson ETB’s wife. I think it was the wife who gave up the inheretance; I was writing about the mother.

    By the way, you have mail. I finally sent the copy of my thesis that you requested.

  4. Mardell
    April 26, 2004 at 4:25 pm

    I our moderen world we have different trials. Things that we think nothing of, but would not have amazed Sister Benson. I her day it seems that just to physically survive there were many challenges, but there was no media, internet and not many outside influences on families. Today the physical challenges of living are far less, but there are many more challenges to deal with.

    So to sum up every generation has their trials, some are physical others are emotional and many are spiritual. Although, they are different it does not mean that lazy or weak just that our experiences are different.

Comments are closed.