"There is no such thing as false hope, only false hopelessness."
When every missionary returns home from his assignment, he reports to his local Stake High Council. I reported to the Tooele Utah South Stake High Council the Tuesday after I returned home from Ecuador. I walked into the High Council room and saw a long table lined by twelve chairs, six on each side. At the head of the table was another table with three chairs. More chairs lined the walls on either side of the table.
I sat in a chair along the edge of the wall and waited for my time to speak. A younger man in a wheel chair rolled into the room and asked if I could help him with his laptop computer. I was happy to comply as he took his place at the table as a member of the High Council.
As I talked about my experiences in Ecuador and shared my testimony of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, the man in the wheel chair didn't stop smiling.
A few days later, I received a call from the man in the wheelchair and learned his name was Chad Hymas. He asked if I could accompany him and speak with him at a ward within our stake. I happily agreed. (If you know me, you know I love to speak in Church).
The next Sunday, I went to the ward and presented my message. Then Chad began his talk. He praised me for my testimony and my ability to convey it. And he told his story.
For years, Chad had been active and vibrant. He was married and had children. He loved athletics and working outdoors. By his mid-twenties, he had accomplished his goal of owning an Elk Ranch. But on April 3, 2001 everything changed.
Chad was hurrying to go see his son take his first steps. First, he needed to feed his elk. He loaded a one-ton bale of hay onto his tractor, but by accident, the bale slipped from the tractor's forks and landed on his head.
His neck was broken, and he became a twenty-seven-year-old quadriplegic.
Yet the bale of hay didn't break Chad's spirit. Despite painful surgeries and physical therapy, Chad has not stopped moving forward, filled with gratitude to God for the many blessings He has given him. (Click here to read Chad's accomplishments).
I left that meeting filled with love for Chad. He was a man I wanted to be like.
Thankfully, over the next year, I had the opportunity to speak with Chad several more times.
Today, Chad spoke to our ward. He told of an experience he had with his son, the same son who started walking on the same day Chad lost the ability to walk. Chad's son had been preparing to be baptised, and Chad was trying to teach him about faith, that faith means believing in things which aren't seen but which are true.
After their discussion, his son wanted proof that Chad could once walk since he was only a baby when Chad became a quadriplegic. Chad pointed to the scars on his neck where the doctors had repaired his fractured spine. Then he pointed to his hip and the scars from where the doctors took some of his hip bone to repair his neck.
His son looked at the scars and said, "Dad, those scars on your neck and your hip are getting better. You'll be walking soon just like me."
Chad wanted to explain to his son about spinal columns, but he waited. That night, his wife discouraged him from telling his son that it was unlikely that he would ever walk again.
The next day, Chad sat down with his son and said, "Thank you for teaching me about faith and hope. And you're right. I will walk again. It may be tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or in the next life. But I will walk again."
After Chad finished his story, he turned to us and said, "My son taught me that there is no such thing as false hope, only false hopelessness."
I broke down and sobbed like a child. You see, for the past few weeks, I've been feeling hopeless and worthless. My current search for law-related employment has proven fruitless and frustrating. No one in the Utah legal job market has been interested in me. And here was Chad Hymas, a man confined to a wheel chair who may never walk again in this life. He was telling me to be of good cheer and to be happy.
That's because through Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel, we have every reason to hope.
Chad Hymas is one of my heroes, and his message today was an answer to prayer. I hope that I will one day be able to stand at least half as tall as he.
To learn more about Chad or to invite him to come speak to you or your organization, visit his website at www.chadhymas.com.
To invite missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to your home, click here.