Compelled by persecution to leave his native land, Rabbi Akiva wandered over barren wastes and sandy deserts. His entire belongings consisted of a lamp which he used to light at night in order to study scriptures; a dog which served him instead of a watch, to awaken him in the morning, and a guard to protect him while he slept; and a small donkey on which he rode.
The sun was fast going down, night was approaching, and the poor wanderer knew not where to shelter his head or rest his weary body. Fatigued and almost completely exhausted, he at last came near a village. He asked for a night’s lodging but was refused. Not one of the inhospitable citizens would receive him--so he was obliged to seek for shelter under a few trees nearby.
“It is very, very hard,” said he, ”not to find even one hospitable roof to protect me from the weather, but God is just and what He does is for the best.” He seated himself beneath a tree, lighted his lamp, and began to read the Word of God.” He had scarcely read a chapter when a violent storm extinguished his light. “What!” he exclaimed, ”must I not be permitted to pursue even my favorite study?” But God is just and whatever he does is for the best.
He stretched himself on the bare earth, willing if possible, to have a few hours sleep. He had hardly closed his eyes when a fierce wolf came and killed his dog. “What new misfortune is this?!” said the astonished traveler. “My vigilant companion is gone! But God is just--He knows what is best for us poor mortals.”
Scarcely had he finished the sentence when a terrible lion came and devoured his small donkey. “What is to be done now?” exclaimed the lonely wanderer. My lamp and my dog are gone. My poor little donkey is gone as well. But praised be the Lord. What He does is all for the best.
He passed a sleepless night and early in the morning, went to the village to see if he could get a horse or any other beast of burden to enable him to pursue his journey. To his great surprise, he did not find a single individual alive.
It appeared that a band of robbers had entered the village during the night, killed its inhabitants, and plundered their houses. As soon as Akiva had recovered from his amazement at what had happened, he lifted up his voice and exclaimed, ”Thou great God! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! I know by experience that mortal men are short-sighted and blind, often considering those things as evil which thou intendest for their preservation, but Thou alone art just and kind and merciful. Had not the hard hearted people, by their inhospitality, driven me from their village, I would assuredly have shared their fate: had not the wind put out my lamp, the robbers would have been drawn to the spot. I perceive also that it was thy mercy which deprived me of my two companions that they might not, by their noise, give notice to the robbers where I was.
Praised be thy name forever and ever, for thou knowest what is best.”
With that story in mind, listen again to this scripture:
Rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks. (D&C 98:1)