Living Prophets Lesson 12: Spencer W. Kimball

Overcoming Personal Trials


Get the entire FHE lesson series on "Living Prophets."

Purpose: To help family members understand that trials help individuals grow and make it possible to draw closer to the Lord

Gospel Principles: Trials, adversity, endurance 

Scripture: D&C 121:7–9

Music: “Though Deepening Trials” (Hymns, no. 122), “Hum Your Favorite Hymn” (CS, 152)


President Kimball suffered many personal trials in his lifetime, so much so that he has been compared to the Old Testament prophet Job. Here is a sampling of the hardships he had to overcome: During his childhood, President Kimball suffered from typhoid fever, smallpox, facial paralysis, and once nearly drowned. When he was five, one of President Kimball’s younger sisters died; his mother passed away when he was just eleven years old. His life savings were wiped out in the Great Depression. As a stake president, he had to care for many Saints whose homes were destroyed in floods. 

In 1948, President Kimball suffered a heart attack. His heart condition resurfaced in 1972, requiring him to undergo open-heart surgery. President Kimball battled recurring throat cancer, which led to one and a half of his vocal cords being removed. Afterward he was able to speak only with a hoarse whisper. In Faith Precedes the Miracle, President Kimball wrote about trusting the Lord despite the trials and difficulties of this life: “In the face of apparent tragedy we must put our trust in God, knowing that despite our limited view his purposes will not fail. With all its troubles life offers us the tremendous privilege to grow in knowledge and wisdom, faith and works, preparing to return and share God’s glory.”


1. Print a copy of “Adversity Puzzle.” After putting together the puzzle, discuss Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s quote and the blessings that can come into our lives from having challenges.

2. Write each of the following trials on separate slips of paper and place them into a container. Add other trials your family may have experienced. Take turns choosing a trial. Have the family member read what is written on the paper out loud and then comment on how he or she would respond faithfully to that specific challenge. Ask, “What do the responses have in common?”

  • Death of a loved one
  • Job-loss
  • Loved one strays from the gospel
  • Natural disaster
  • Illness
  • A new, challenging calling
  • Strife with another
  • Divorce
  • Learning a new skill or language
  • Moving
  • Addiction
  • Separation from family

3. Provide each family member with a blank piece of paper and a writing utensil. Find a simple line drawing (or make one yourself) and have one family member give verbal instructions to the rest of the family as they try to draw it. The person giving the instructions or describing the picture is NOT allowed to show the original illustration to those who are drawing. After all family members are done drawing, have them show their pictures. Discuss the difficulties they had. Then compare this exercise to going through life. Remind family members that the Lord’s view is not as limited as ours and that He will reach out to help us in times of need.

Additional Resources:

1. After the death of President Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson spoke in memory of Spencer W. Kimball’s life, including trials he faced. The speech was published in the December 1985 Ensign.

2. The gospel study section of has information on the topic of adversity, including scripture references, magazine articles, and other study materials. 

3. A comic-book style rendition of Spencer W. Kimball’s life challenges was published in the Friend magazine in October 2007.

Get the entire FHE lesson series on "Living Prophets."

All lessons are excerpted fromthe new book Follow the Prophets: 52 FHE Lessons from Latter-day Prophets.

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