Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“O God, Where Art Thou?”
Joseph Smith's prayer in Liberty Jail, and the Lord's response.
The Savior's perfect understanding of our sufferings and adversity.
Purposes of adversity.
The Lord's counsel to those who experience adversity.
The Lord's promises to those who are faithful in adversity.
A study of this lesson will help us better endure adversity by turning to the
Scripture references for study:
Our Heritage, pages 45–53
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 28 Handout (PDF)
The Mormons Must Be Exterminated
After being driven from Jackson County the Saints fled to Clay County,
north of the Missouri River. The citizens of Clay County took the
Mormon refugees in, but did not intend for them to make permanent homes in
June 1836: The citizens of Clay County, Missouri drafted a resolution addressed
to the Mormons stating that they must move out of the county in order
to avert civil war.
- The First Presidency counseled the Saints in Clay County to settle their
affairs and move in peace.
September 1836: The Saints began to settle on Shoal Creek in upper Ray
The city they established was named Far West.
A man by the name of Alexander Doniphan was instrumental in getting Ray
County divided into Ray, Caldwell, and Daviess Counties. Far West
was located in Caldwell County and Adam-Ondi-Ahman in Daviess County.
Difficulties in Kirtland (see Lesson
In December 1837, Brigham Young was forced to flee Kirtland to preserve
his life because of his unyielding defense of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He headed west for Missouri.
There was a plot to assassinate Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Joseph
was warned in time to be placed in a box nailed on an ox-cart and driven
out of town to safety. A friend met him with his favorite horse,
Old Charley, where Joseph continued through the night until he was a safe
distance from Kirtland.
The Prophet made his way to Missouri arriving there in March 1838.
Members of the Church in Kirtland began leaving as fast as preparations
could be made. The following July, a group of 600 persons (the Kirtland Camp) made their way to Far West.
By the spring of 1838, Caldwell County had grown to a population of more
than five thousand, 4,900 of which were Mormons.
By the summer of 1838 the membership of the Church in Missouri had swelled
to about 12,000.
There were significant excommunications during this period: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, William E. McLellin, and Lyman E. Johnson.
June 1838: Sidney Rigdon delivers the "Salt Sermon."
In this speech, Sidney used as a text the verse, "Ye are the salt of
the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith, shall it be
salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and
to be trodden under foot of men." (Matt. 5:13)
Sidney applied this text to some of the dissenting brethren. Some
of the dissenters made the most of this speech in prejudicing the non-Mormons
in the surrounding counties.
July 4, 1838: Independence Day in Far West.
The corner stones for the temple were laid.
There was a parade including a band.
The Prophet wrote: "The day was spent in
celebrating the `Declaration of Independence of the United States of America,'
and also by the saints making a `Declaration of Independence' from all
mobs and persecutions which have been inflicted upon them, time after time,
until they could bear it no longer." (HC, 3:41)
Sidney Rigdon was the key speaker of the day.
Most of his speech was a good Independence Day speech on the free institutions
of our government, religious freedom, and the establishment of the Church
in this dispensation.
He then spoke of those who attempted to infringe upon the rights of the Church:
"But from this day and this hour we will suffer
it no more. We take God and all the holy angels to witness, this day, that
we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ to come on us no more for
ever, for from this hour we will bear it no more; our rights shall no more
be trampled on with impunity; the man, or the set of men who attempt it
do it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb
us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will
follow them until the last drop of their blood is spilled; or else they
will have to exterminate us, for we will carry the seat of war to their;
own houses and their own families, and one party or the other shall be
utterly destroyed.... We this day, then, proclaim ourselves free with a
purpose and determination that never can be broken, No, never! No, never!
No, never!" (CHC 1:441)
This speech may not have had much effect, except that it appeared in print
and was used by the dissenters and mobbers against the Church.
August 6, 1838: Election day at Gallatin, Daviess County.
The Mormons had been warned that there would be an attempt to keep them
from voting in the election.
The brethren living in Gallatin gave little heed to the warning and went
to the polls unarmed.
When the Mormons attempted to exercise their rights, a free-for-all broke
out. It lasted for only two minutes. There were injuries, but no
one was killed.
The Missouri difficulties escalated from this event.
As the spirit of mobocracy spread, the brethren in Far West organized into
companies of tens and fifties for mutual protection.
The Prophet encouraged the Saints to be unafraid and referred to a passage
in the 18th chapter of Judges about the tribe of Dan, "If the enemy
comes, the Danites will be after them, meaning the brethren in self-defense."
(Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p384)
One of those who heard Joseph speak of the Danites was Sampson Avard. Brother Avard secretly organized some of the brethren into companies
for mutual defense and protection.
He claimed to have the sanction of the First Presidency.
He taught those who would follow him that they should lead their companies
against the gentiles, to rob and plunder them, and waste them away. With the loot, the kingdom of God would be built.
The majority of Avard's followers left him in disgust. And soon Avard
Avard then became a friend of the mob and charged the Prophet with being
the instigator of the Danite band.
October 1838: The Missouri mobbings begin anew.
In a half hour battle at DeWitt, thirty armed Mormons led by Colonel George
Hinkle, scared off a mob of about 150. Reports of this battle found
their way back to Governor Lilburn W. Boggs.
Battle of Crooked River.
On October 25, Apostle David W. Patten led a Mormon militia against a mob
at Crooked River.
Mormon forces lost three lives and seven wounded. Among those killed
was Elder Patten. The Missourians lost one man and six wounded.
Reports of the battle were exaggerated. All Missourians in the northern
part of Ray County abandoned their premises and fled south to Richmond
for safety believing that a Mormon attack was imminent.
At the direction of Governor Boggs a force of 2000 troops were dispatched
to Richmond. The governor wrote: "The Mormons
must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the
state, if necessary for the public good. Their outrages are beyond all
description." (CHC, 1:479)
October 30: Haun's Mill massacre.
This Mormon settlement, east of Far West, was attacked by a mob of 240
men. The mob leader treacherously yelled, "All who desire to save
their lives and make peace, run into the blacksmith shop" (Encyclopedic
History of the Church, p320). Mormon men and boys fled into the blacksmith shop
and into the woods. The mob then surrounded the blacksmith shop and fired
between the logs. Nineteen men and boys were killed and another fifteen wounded.
The massacre at Haun's Mill was a demonstration of the absolute evil that
can enter the hearts of men. The History of Caldwell County, published
in 1886, recorded this account:
"Esq. Thos. McBride was an old soldier of the
Revolution. He was lying wounded and helpless, his gun by his side. A militiaman
named Rogers came up to him and demanded it. 'Take it,' said McBride. Rogers
picked up the weapon, and finding that it was loaded, deliberately discharged
it into the old man's breast. He then cut and hacked the old veteran's
body with a rude sword, or 'corn knife' until it was frightfully mangled.
Wm. Reynolds, a Livingston man, killed the little boy Sardius Smith, 10
years of age. The lad had run into the blacksmith shop and crawled under
the bellows for safety. Upon entering the shop the cruel militiamen discovered
the cowering trembling little fellow, and without even demanding his surrender
fired upon and killed him, and afterwards boasted of the atrocious deed
to Chas. R. Ross and others. He described, with fiendish glee, how the
poor boy struggled in his dying agony, and justified his savage and inhuman
conduct in killing a mere child by saying, 'Nits will make lice, and if
he had lived he would have become a Mormon'." (CHC, 1:482)
Elder B.H. Roberts continues the account at Haun's
Mill: "As soon as all in sight were
killed or wounded the militia proceeded to loot the houses, wagons and
tents of their victims, taking everything of value, and even in some cases
stripped the dead. They drove off the horses and wagons, loaded with plunder,
and left the widows and orphans of the slain destitute of the means of
"When night settled down
over the scene those who had fled to the woods returned to learn the fate
of their relatives and friends, and to care for the wounded. The next day,
for want of time to provide a more decent burial—for they knew not what
moment they might be again assailed—the survivors of the massacre gathered
up the dead and threw their bodies into an unfinished well, which was afterwards
filled up, and no one knows the exact spot of interment of these victims
of misplaced hate." (CHC, 1:482-483)
Haun's Mill Massacre by C.C.A. Christensen
October 31, 1838:
George M. Hinckle (commander of the Mormon forces) met with General Samuel
D. Lucas. Hinckle was shown a copy of the extermination order.
Lucas promised to go easier than the order if Hinckle agreed to the proposal
and asked for a postponement until the following morning. The agreement
Leaders to turn themselves in to be tried and punished.
They would take an appropriation of property as compensation by those who
took up arms.
The remaining Saints to leave the state.
All arms to be given up.
Hinckle agreed to the proposal and asked for a postponement until the following
Elder Roberts in his history records: "Colonel
Hinkle returned to Far West and reported to Joseph Smith that the officers
of the militia desired to have an interview with him and some others—naming
those stipulated by General Lucas—hoping that the difficulties might be
settled without carrying into effect the governor's Exterminating Orders.
To this 'interview', the brethren named readily assented, but judge of
their surprise, when, on meeting General Lucas and the troops that came
forward from the main body to receive them, Colonel Hinkle said: 'General,
these are the prisoners I agreed to deliver up.' They were then surrounded
and marched off as prisoners. On reaching the enemy's encampment, ninety
men were called out to guard them. Thirty were on this duty at a time:
two hours on and four hours off. The prisoners lay in the open air with
nothing as a covering, and they were all drenched with rain before morning.
All night long they were mocked and taunted by the guard, who demanded
signs, saying, 'Come Mr. Smith, show us an angel, give us some of your
revelations, show us a miracle;' mingling these requests with the vilest
oaths. Sidney Rigdon had an attack of apoplectic fits, which afforded much
merriment to the brutal guard. All night long the prisoners were compelled
to listen to the filthy obscenity of those who watched them, and hear them
relate their deeds of rapine and murder, and boast of their conquest over
virtuous wives and maidens by brute force. Thus the wretched night passed
away." (CHC, 1:486-487)
November 1, 1838:
Brigadier General Doniphan was given orders by General Lucas: "Sir:
You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square
of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning."
- General Doniphan responded with the following reply: "It
is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march
for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o'clock; and if you execute those men,
I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God!"
Heber C. Kimball's description of these events:
"November 1st, the mob, professing to be the regular
militia of the state of Missouri, numbering about 7,000, surrounded Far
West, we were all taken prisoners and then marched a short distance into
a hollow where Col. Lucas had previously pointed his cannon, in full range,
so that if we had not laid down our arms, he could easily sweep us into
eternity, which was his design. We were then formed into a hollow square,
and commanded by Col. Lucas to ground arms and deliver up our weapons of
war, although they were our own private property. We were then marched
back a short distance, on the public square in Far West, where we were
again formed into a hollow square, near the house of Brother Beeman."
(Life of Heber C. Kimball, p217)
"The mob then commenced plundering the citizens
of their bedding, clothing, money, wearing apparel, and everything of value
they could lay their hands upon; and also attempting to violate the chastity
of the women in sight of their husbands, pretending they were hunting for
prisoners and firearms." (Ibid., p217)
"The next day, 2nd, I was permitted to return to my
house, but was told not to leave the city, as it was surrounded by a strong
guard to prohibit anyone leaving the place; they were engaged in taking every
man who seemed to have any influence, and putting them in chains to stand a
trial. They were pointed out by the apostate allies of the mob."
"We were brought up at the point of the bayonet
and compelled to sign a deed of trust, transferring all our property to
defray the expenses of this war made on us by the State of Missouri. This
was complied with, because we could not help ourselves. When we walked
up to sign the deeds of trust to pay these assassins for murdering our
brethren and sisters, and their children; ravishing some of our sisters
to death; robbing us of our lands and possessions and all we had on earth,
and other similar 'services,' they expected to see us cast down and sorrowful,
but I testify as an eyewitness that the brethren rejoiced and praised the
Lord, for His sake taking joyfully the despoiling of their goods. Judges
and magistrates, Methodist, Presbyterian, Campbellite and other sectarian
priests stood by and saw all this going on, exulting over us, and it seemed
to make them more angry that we bore our misfortunes so cheerfully. Judge
Cameron said, with an oath, 'See them laugh and kick up their heels. They
are whipped, but not conquered'." (Ibid., p219)
"The murders, house-burnings, robberies, rapes,
drivings, whippings, imprisonments, and other sufferings and cruelties
inflicted upon the people of God, under the illegal orders of Missouri's
Executive, have only in part been laid before the world, and form a page
in history unsurpassed and unparalleled in the history of religious persecution-that
foulest of all crimes. This historic page alone can credit Lilburn W. Boggs
and his minions with feeding the ministers of the proscribed religion on
the flesh of their murdered brethren; the odium of which is fully shared
by the ministers of different denominations who participated in these vile
atrocities. If hell can furnish a parallel, where is it ? I have not the
ability to write what I saw and felt and realized, but will leave it to
eternity to reveal the scenes of those days. I can say before God, angels,
heaven and earth, that I am innocent of violating any law of the state
of Missouri, and my brethren are equally innocent and virtuous, true to
their God and their country." (Ibid., p223)
Joseph, Hyrum, Sidney, and the other prisoners were allowed to return to
their homes under guard in order to obtain a change of clothing.
They were not allowed to enter into conversation with their families.
Parley P. Pratt wrote of his brief return home: "I
went to my house, being guarded by two or three soldiers; the cold rain
was pouring down without, and on entering my little cottage, there lay
my wife sick of a fever, with which she had been for some time confined.
At her breast was our son Nathan, an infant of three months, and by her
side a little girl of five years. On the foot of the same bed lay a woman
in travail, who had been driven from her house in the night, and had taken
momentary shelter in my hut of ten feet square—my larger house having been
torn down. I stepped to the bed; my wife burst into tears; I spoke a few
words of comfort, telling her to try to live for my sake and the children's;
and expressing a hope that we should meet again though years might separate
us. She promised to try to live. I then embraced and kissed the little
babes and departed.
"Till now I had refrained
from weeping; but, to be forced from so helpless a family, who were destitute
of provisions and fuel, and deprived almost of shelter in a bleak prairie,
with none to assist them, exposed to a lawless banditti who were utter
strangers to humanity, and this at the approach of winter, was more than
nature could well endure.
"I went to Gen. Moses Wilson
in tears, and stated the circumstances of my sick, heart-broken and destitute
family in terms which would have moved any heart that had a latent spark
of humanity yet remaining. But I was only answered with an exultant laugh,
and a taunt of reproach by this hardened murderer." (Autobiography of
Parley P. Pratt,
The prisoners were then taken under heavy guard from Far West to Independence,
arriving there on November 3rd.
November 9, 1838: After having been moved from Independence, the
prisoners arrived in Richmond, Missouri, were they were imprisoned in a
vacant house. While awaiting trial in Richmond, the prisoners were
chained together and the windows of the house nailed down.
In was while imprisoned in Richmond that the Prophet's famous rebuke of
the guards occurred.
Parley P. Pratt: "In one of those tedious
nights we had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed,
and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listened for hours
to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy
language of our guards, Colonel Price at their head, as they recounted
to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc., which they
had committed among the 'Mormons' while at Far West and vicinity. They
even boasted of defiling by force wives, daughters and virgins, and of
shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women and children.
"I had listened till I
became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit
of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my
feet and rebuking the guards; but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one
else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he
arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion,
uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:
"'SILENCE, ye fiends of
the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command
you to be still; I will not live another minute and bear such language.
Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!'
"He ceased to speak. He
stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled
and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons
were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and
who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon,
and remained quiet till a change of guards.
"I have seen the ministers
of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before
them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the Courts of England; I
have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I
have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns;
and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and
majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a
dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri." (Ibid.,
November 12, 1838: The trial of the Prophet and the other prisoners
began. Many witnesses came and gave false testimony, including a
number of apostates: George Hinkle, William W. Phelps, John Whitmer
The prosecution continued the presentation of their case for several days. When the defense gave a list of
forty names, a company of militia was dispatched
to get them. Instead of bringing them to court, they were taken to
prison and put in confinement. Additional witnesses were called for,
but having heard about the previous witnesses, the militia was unable to
November 28, 1838: All of the defendants were acquitted or released
on bail except for Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight,
Caleb Baldwin and Alexander McRae who were taken to Liberty Jail. Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer
were taken to Richmond Jail.
Joseph Fielding Smith: "After the mock trial
in Richmond, Joseph Smith and his five companions were imprisoned in Liberty,
Clay County, for a period of six months. Here they suffered, during that
time, many untold hardships. Much of the time they were bound in chains.
Their food was often not fit to eat, and never wholesome or prepared with
the thought of proper nourishment. Several times poison was administered
to them in their food, which made them sick nigh unto death, and only the
promised blessings of the Lord saved them. Their bed was on the floor,
or on the flat side of a hewn white oak log, and in this manner they were
forced to suffer." (Essentials in Church History, p210)
This was a tragic period in Church history. It is difficult to imagine
what the Prophet went through during this time. Besides the physical
suffering in Liberty Jail during a cold Missouri winter, it must have rested
heavy on his heart to know that his beloved Saints had been stripped of
their homes, their livelihoods, and most of their possessions and forced
out of the state during the coldest months of the year. The information
above only begins to tell the story of this dark and difficult period. Homes and farms were burned. The Saints were robbed and pillaged. Women were defiled. The very thought of what the Missouri mobs did
to the Saints brings one to the edge of tears. I cannot imagine such things
happening to my family. It is far more than I can comprehend. By the following April, twelve to fifteen thousand Saints had been removed
from Missouri to western Illinois.
Elder B.H. Roberts in his history of the Missouri persecutions wrote: "Before
the great Bar of History, I impeach the State of Missouri. In the years
from 1833 to 1838 there were committed within her borders and against an
unoffending, and lawabiding people, acts of shameful robbery, arson, mob-violence;
willful, wanton slaughter of men, women and children; worst of all, rape
upon virtuous wives and maidens; and, at the last, illegal banishment of
some twelve thousand people from the State. For these crimes, repeatedly
committed and numerous, no offender was ever brought to punishment by the
State. On the contrary the machinery of its government was employed and
its officers exerted themselves to further oppress the innocent sufferers;
so that instead of being a means for their protection, the government was
made an engine for their oppression; and its legislature turning a deaf
ear to the story of their wrongs, made liberal appropriations from the
State treasury to defray the expenses of those who committed the outrages
against them and drove them from the State." (The Missouri Persecutions,
Liberty Jail - The Prison/Temple
As Joseph, Hyrum and others languished in the cold, damp jail in Liberty,
he received correspondence regarding the plight of the Saints who were
attempting to leave hostile Missouri in the winter cold. Though his
faith was great, he must have wondered at times what he had led these good
people into. The pain in his compassionate soul exceeded the physical
conditions he was called upon to bear. He could not walk amongst
the Saints and help them with their burdens. This must have been
a time of frustration and anguish. As the months wore on, the Prophet
called out to the Lord:
"O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion
that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine
eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people
and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? Yea, O Lord,
how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine
heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion
toward them?" (D&C 121:1-3)
The Lord responded to the Prophet's anguish: "My
son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall
be but a small moment;
"And then, if thou endure
it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy
"God shall give unto you
knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy
Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now....
"How long can rolling waters
remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch
forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or
to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge
from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints." (D&C
121:7-8, 26, 33)
In the midst of suffering, the Lord reached out to the Prophet. As
well as words of comfort, the Lord continued his revelation by teaching Joseph
about priesthood power. Sections 122 and 123 were also received during the
Prophet's time in Liberty Jail.
Elder B.H. Roberts: "Such outgivings as
these made Liberty jail, for a time, a center of instruction. The eyes
of the saints were turned to it as the place whence would come encouragement,
counsel—the word of the Lord. It was more temple than prison, so long as
the Prophet was there. It was a place of meditation and prayer. A temple,
first of all, is a place of prayer; and prayer is communion with God. It
is the 'infinite in man seeking the infinite in God.' Where they find each
other, there is holy sanctuary—a temple. Joseph Smith sought God in this
rude prison, and found him. Out of the midst of his tribulations he called
upon God in passionate earnestness." (CHC, p526)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "In Liberty, Joseph
had time to ponder, albeit in grim conditions. Jailed Joseph's introspections
doubtless prepared him to receive therein the great revelations now known
as sections 121 and 122 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 123 was
set forth by Joseph during the same period of incarceration. Portions of
these revelations and Joseph's own communications and reflections during
his imprisonment illuminate for us, in ways probably unique in all of scripture,
the challenges associated with deepening one's discipleship."
(But For A Small Moment, p2)
For additional information see
Within the Walls of Liberty Jail at LDS.org.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The members of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who experience mocking of temple
rituals, ridicule of the Book of Mormon, and attempted belittling of the
Prophet Joseph Smith can learn from the prison-temple how adversity has
its uses. Though it is regrettable that such should come, efforts to weaken
the Church will, ironically, only end up by strengthening faithful members
and heightening their appreciation for temples, scriptures, and prophets."
(But For A Small Moment, p4)
The Lord, in speaking to the Prophet, puts Joseph's suffering in perspective
when he says, "Thou art not yet as Job"
(D&C 121:10). The Lord continues in Section 122.
WHY MUST WE FACE ADVERSITY?
After a listing of the trials and adversity one might be called to pass
through, the Lord says, "know thou, my son, that
all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good"
Again, the Lord puts the trials of man in perspective, "The
Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?"
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO ADVERSITY?
Adversity is part of God's plan for our testing and growth during mortality. As the Lord explained to the Prophet,
shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
Elder Orson Pratt:
"There is the reason. It is for our development, our purification, our growth,
our education and advancement, that we buffet the fierce waves of sorrow and
misfortune; and we shall be all the stronger and better when we have swum the
flood and stand upon the farther shore."
(Latter-day Prophets, 4:228)
It is how we are strengthened and tested. "Therefore,
be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the
Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my
covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will
not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me."
"My people must be tried in all things, that they
may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory
of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom."
Elder Orson F. Whitney: "From
time to time the Lord will bring trials and vicissitudes upon His people
to sift and purify them as wheat. The chaff will eventually all be blown
away and nothing but the wheat remain. In every change that has come, God
has had in view the development, growth and purification of His people."
(Collected Discourses, Volume 1)
At times we bring the adversity upon ourselves.
I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted,
and cast out from the land of their inheritance—I, the Lord, have suffered
the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in
consequence of their transgressions" (D&C
Adversity in life is never easy and at times never
seems to end. A study of the life of Joseph Smith is a wonderful
example of how to deal with adversity. From the time of the First
Vision to his martyrdom at Carthage, the Prophet never lost faith. He always continued to move forward in building the kingdom of God. What a wonderful example?
I am reminded of the 1970's movie Rocky, starring Sylvester Stalone. As you may recall, the story is about Rocky Balboa,
a Philadelphia prize fighter. He didn't make much from boxing, so
he helped collect debts for a loan shark. By sheer chance, Rocky
was selected to fight the defending world champion Apollo Creed. This underdog fighter climbed into the ring with no one believing he had
a chance. And so it seemed in the early rounds of the fight when
Apollo pummeled Rocky. Then something happened to Rocky. He
knew he could not win the fight, but he believed he could withstand Apollo's
blows and be standing at the end of fifteen rounds. Though this was just
a movie, it is inspiring to watch the scene where Rocky stands in the ring
with a bloody face, staring Apollo Creed in the eyes, and waving his hands
at Apollo to hit him again. Rocky was standing with dignity at the
end of fifteen rounds.
I am not so sure we should
be climbing in the ring with adversity, but when it comes, and we are being
pummeled, there are some keys that will enable us to be standing at the
end of fifteen rounds.
"Be patient in afflictions, revile not against
those that revile" (D&C 31:9).
As the Lord told the Prophet in Liberty,
adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment." When we are in the midst of adversity, it becomes the focus and all else
seems to fade into the background. It will pass. A fifteen round
match is only a moment in a lifetime and this life is merely a blink in
the eternities. Though it is difficult during challenging times,
we need to put these experiences in perspective.
We only hurt ourselves by reviling and having hateful
feelings against our enemies. The Missouri Saints are a wonderful
example. In spite of the persecution they faced, being driven from
their homes, with family and friends raped and murdered, the Saints quietly
left the state. What if these Saints had taken up against the Missouri
mobs? Given the temperament of the Missourians, there is no question
that there would have been civil war and Governor Bogg's extermination
order would have been carried out to the letter. Rather than revile,
the Saints suffered this "moment" and were strengthened by it. The
Saints, the Church, and the work of eternal salvation have all been blessed
because of the patience of these wonderful Saints.
"Rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks"
When enduring trials, attitude is everything. After I had been on my mission and experienced many frustrations, my father
said to me, "You have probably learned that being on a mission is not a
bed of roses." How true it was. Being a mission was, at times,
one of the most challenging and frustrating experiences of my life. But as I look back, it was also one of the greatest blessings of my life. We need to remind ourselves of the blessings that come from adversity. We need to remind ourselves that adversity prepares us for eternity. When we do so,
we can then rejoice and give thanks. If we can do
that, the difficult times will be so much easier to deal with.
"Forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that
ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of
God" (D&C 98:11).
This is absolutely necessary. Times of adversity
can give way to temptation. The challenges of Missouri and the closing
days of the Kirtland era caused many good Saints to turn against the Prophet
and the Church. They only ruined their own lives. Those that
endured those difficult times, became the foundation the Lord built on
to bring this great work to its present status in the world.
"Search diligently, pray always, and be believing,
and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly
and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another"
We need not walk the path of adversity alone. We must turn to the Lord in prayer. He knows our sorrows. He
knows the difficulties we are passing through. He suffered the anguish
of sacrificing his own son in our behalf. If we have faith in Him
and lean on him, we will be strengthened, as the Prophet was strengthened
in Liberty Jail.
"I do know that whosoever shall put their trust
in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their
afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"
President Marion G. Romney: "I
have seen the remorse and despair in the lives of men who, in the hour
of trial, have cursed God and died spiritually. And I have seen people
rise to great heights from what seemed to be unbearable burdens.
"Finally, I have sought
the Lord in my own extremities and learned for myself that my soul has
made its greatest growth as I have been driven to my knees by adversity
and affliction." (CR, Oct
Joseph Smith: "I
am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the
only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact
with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious
bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned
judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by
mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking
off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished
shaft in the quiver of the Almighty."
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the experiences of the Saints in Missouri and the
Prophet's incarceration in Liberty Jail. How can you prepare to face
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.
But For A Small Moment by Neal A. Maxwell.
Conference Reports (CR).
Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
by Andrew Jenson.
Essentials in Church History by Joseph Fielding Smith.
History of the Church (HC).
Joseph Smith and the Restoration by Ivan J. Barrett.
Latter-Day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants
by Roy W. Doxey.
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
The Missouri Persecutions by B.H. Roberts.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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16 May 2017