Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.1
The prophets have given us many messages of hope from which we can draw personal and inner strength during the tumultuous times of the latter days. Many catastrophic things must occur in order to remove the wicked from the earth in preparation for the Millennium. The righteous are the only ones who will be protected and shielded as these destructions descend upon the world.
When we are faced with trials in our lives, it is surprising to see the great adversity we can overcome when we rely upon the Savior. We marvel at the trials we have successfully passed through because of the Lord’s help. If we had known in advance of many of these trials, they would have truly seemed impossible to surmount.
But when we are in the midst of our trials, working through them on a daily basis, life continues to go on, day by day, and we are able to surmount a tremendous amount of adversity, especially when viewed in retrospect.
Because the prophets have told us of future cataclysmic events in the last days, we might spend our time worrying about the possible repercussions of these events. But this is counter-productive. This fear will empty our hearts of faith.
When these last-day events finally do come to pass, we will be given strength---if we rely upon the Lord---and we will be able to overcome these trials. The only means of hope and the only dependable source in the latter days is a solid belief and testimony in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will strengthen us, He will give us hope, and He will whisper peace to our souls if we will rely upon Him. As Helaman told his sons, Nephi and Lehi:
“Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”2
The Lord Will Help Us in Our Trials
The Lord has promised to assist the Saints in the latter days, and comfort them in their trials. President Brigham Young, who had learned to patiently wait upon the Lord during the many trials that he experienced, testified that the Lord had blessed him during these times of adversity and hardship. He also knew that the anticipation of these trials would have been worse than the actual event:
“I wish to ask those persons who were driven from Jackson County, if they suffered as much in the actual driving as they would have done in the anticipation of it a year before it took place? You will all reply that, if you had known it a year beforehand, you would not have endured the thought. . . . I have been in the heat of it, and I never felt better in all my life; I never felt the peace and power of the Almighty more copiously poured upon me than in the keenest part of our trials. They appeared nothing to me.”3
Continuing his remarks, President Young beautifully illustrated the depth of the blessings that will be ours for passing through these periods of perseverance:
“I hear people talk about their troubles, their sore privations, and the great sacrifices they have made for the gospel’s sake. It never was a sacrifice to me. Anything I can do or suffer in the cause of the gospel, is only like dropping a pin into the sea; the blessings, gifts, powers, honor, joy, truth, salvation, glory, immortality and eternal lives, as far out-swell anything I can do in return for such precious gifts, as the great ocean exceeds in expansion, bulk, and weight, the pin that I drop into it.
“Had I had millions of wealth, and had I devoted it all to the building up of this people and said, ‘Take it, and build temples, cities, and fortifications with it,’ and left myself penniless, would it have been a sacrifice? No, not to my feelings.
“Suppose I should be called to preach the gospel until my head is white, and my limbs become weak with age, until I go down into my grave, and never see my family and friends again in the flesh, would it be a sacrifice? No, but one of the greatest blessings that could be conferred upon mortal man, to have the privilege of calling thousands, and perhaps millions, from darkness to light, from the power of Satan and unrighteousness to the principles of truth and righteousness in the living God.”4
Rejoicing in Persecution
President Young had a truly unique perspective about the persecution that the Saints sometimes experience. He told us that we can rejoice in persecution as much as we rejoice in peace, because the persecution of the Saints will bring about the Lord’s purposes, it will refine the Saints, and it will condemn the wicked. He said:
“In every thing the Saints may rejoice---in persecution, because it is necessary to purge them, and prepare the wicked for their doom; in sickness and in pain, though they are hard to bear, because we are thereby made acquainted with pain, with sorrow, and with every affliction that mortals can endure, for by contrast all things are demonstrated to our senses. We have reason to rejoice exceedingly that faith is in the world, that the Lord reigns, and does His pleasure among the inhabitants of the earth.
“Do you ask if I rejoice because the devil has the advantage over the inhabitants of the earth, and has afflicted mankind? I most assuredly answer in the affirmative; I rejoice in this as much as in anything else. I rejoice because I am afflicted. I rejoice because I am poor. I rejoice because I am cast down. Why? Because I shall be lifted up again.
“I rejoice that I am poor, because I shall be made rich; that I am afflicted, because I shall be comforted, and prepared to enjoy the felicity of perfect happiness, for it is impossible to properly appreciate happiness, except by enduring the opposite.”5
All That We Receive Is Through the Mercy of the Father and Son
Our very existence depends upon the mercy of our loving Father in Heaven and of His Son, Jesus Christ. They send the rains and snows to water the land so that the grasses will grow, and we can then eat, grow and flourish. All that we see around us is the Lord’s, and these things come to us through His mercy and love. He will love and support us if we will follow Him.
President Brigham Young aptly described how closely we depend upon the Father and Son for our daily sustenance, and how quickly this can change according to His will and our state of righteousness:
"How long would it take the Lord to cause the waters of every stream that runs into this valley to sink down into the earth, and to make the valley as dry as the Holy Land is today? It would take Him but a very short time. He could open up the veins of the earth---the earth is full of them---and it would want only a little change to open them and cause the water of every stream in this valley to sink deep into the bowels of the earth.
“How long would it take Him to pass this word, and for His angels to come here and say to the clouds, ‘Gather no more moisture to shed forth the dews and the rains on the face of the earth?’ All He would have to do would be to send an angel to perform a little meteorological and chemical change, and the clouds would gather no more moisture, and no more rain would fall on the earth.
“Where would your trees be then? What would become of your gardens? What would come of the forage on the mountains that our cattle and sheep feed upon? It would be dried up, become dust, and be blown into some other country, and the rocks would be left bare, as they are in some of the eastern lands. All this could be done very easily.”6
It is through the Lord’s mercy and grace that we receive those things that we need to stay alive, to grow and flourish.
Strength Comes Through Faith in Jesus Christ
The greatest source of strength for the Saints in the latter days is faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. This was the source of the Prophet Joseph’s strength.7 It was his faith in God that allowed him to persevere in the midst of extreme adversity.8 At a time in Nauvoo when he had to go into hiding to save his life, he wrote to the Saints and told them:
“As for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad.
“But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.”9
No matter how thick the darkness was that seemed to gather against him, the Prophet Joseph knew that the Lord’s promises would be fulfilled. He had complete confidence in the Lord. As Heber C. Kimball explained:
“What is faith? It is confidence. What is confidence? It is faith. Some people are striving and striving to get faith, when saving faith is simply confidence in God, flowing from walking in obedience to His commandments. When you have confidence in yourself, in any man, woman, or child, you have faith; and when you have not confidence, you have not faith. I believe they are co-partners, and the principle of faith and confidence is synonymous to me.”10
The Prophet Joseph’s confidence and faith in God was so complete that it filled his soul with cheerfulness and optimism.11 Even when he was struggling with difficult circumstances, he was hopeful and optimistic that everything would be fine. Many of the Saints noticed this:
“He [Joseph] told me I should never get discouraged whatever difficulties might surround me. If I was sunk in the lowest pit of Nova Scotia and all the Rocky Mountains piled in on top of me, I ought not to be discouraged but hang on, exercise faith and keep up good courage and I should come out on the top of the heap.”12
“In a social gathering of the Saints at the bowery near the site of the temple, I saw him rejoicing with the people, perfectly sociable and without reserve, occasionally uttering jokes for their amusement and moving upon the same plane with the humblest and poorest of his friends; to him there were no strangers and by all he was known as the Prophet and a friend of humanity.”13
“He was not at home very much. His life was so often sought that he had to be hid up. After he had been in hiding and had come out, he was always so jolly and happy. He would play with the people, and he was always cheerful and happy whenever he would come out. He was different in that respect from Brother Hyrum, who was more sedate, more serious.”14
“He was always the most companionable and lovable of men---cheerful and jovial! . . . Much has been said of his geniality and personal magnetism. I was a witness of this---people, old or young, loved him and trusted him instinctively. I said to him once: ‘Brother Joseph, don’t you get frightened when all those hounding wolves are after you?’ And he answered: ‘No, I am not afraid; the Lord said he would protect me, and I have full confidence in His word.’”15
“Joseph was noted for his childlike love and familiarity with children, and he never seemed to feel that he was losing any of his honor or dignity in doing so. And if he heard the cry of a child, he would rush out of the house to see if it was harmed.”16
“How kind he was to the old folks as well as to little children. He always had a smile for his friends and was always cheerful.”17
We can also develop the same wonderful spirit of optimism and cheerfulness, as we rely upon the Savior.
The Holy Spirit Can Comfort Us in our Trials
The third member of the Godhood is also an important and crucial source of strength in the latter days. He can help us to avoid being deceived in the latter days. As President Ezra Taft Benson warned:
“Heed the Lord’s counsel to the Saints of this dispensation: ‘Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord’ (D&C 133:10). This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church. You must learn to be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so you will not be deceived.”18
The Holy Spirit can strengthen us with peace and comfort when we are in the midst of our trials. He can inspire us, lift us, comfort us and support us in our adversity. This will bring the power of God into our lives. It is readily apparent to others when we are living by the power of the Holy Spirit. President Brigham Young taught:
“If you live near to God, and every moment have your minds filled with fervent desires to keep the law of God, you will understand the Spirit that comes to you; you will know how to build up the Lord’s kingdom, and increase in every good thing; and it will be one continual scene of rejoicing instead of mourning. . . .
“The persons who enjoy that Spirit are never sorrowful nor cast down. They never endure afflictions and mourn because they suppose that they have sacrificed for the gospel, but they are always joyful, always cheerful, with a happy smile on their faces, and, as Brother Robert [Burton] said, it does make the devil mad. That is true, it makes him mad that he cannot afflict this people so as to make them have a sad countenance. . . .
“Those who have the spirit of their religion feel hope bound in their feelings, and have a word of comfort for themselves, their families, and their neighbors, and all is right with them. Let us make the building up of the kingdom of heaven our first and only interest, and all will be well, [and] sure.”19
We have been given a most precious gift. In a world filled with confusion and chaos, we can have the calm reassurance of the Holy Spirit. We can know the will of God. We can find peace and solace in the midst of our trials. If we will patiently draw close to the Lord, the Spirit will lift us up, calm our worries and guide us through treacherous reefs and dangerous shoals until we are rewarded with eternal glories and splendor.
Facing Our Trials with an Eternal Perspective
As we encounter trials and afflictions throughout our lives, it is crucial for our spiritual well-being that we approach these trials with the perspective of eternity. As the Lord reminded the Saints after they had been violently ejected from the lands of New Jerusalem:
“Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul. And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.”20
Even though we might be concerned about losing our lives here in mortality, or suffering afflictions in the flesh, it is our immortal souls that we should guard and treasure. It does us no good to save our lives, or to save the lives of our family and friends, if we lose our faith in the process. We must hold fast to our testimonies in Jesus Christ, and know that the experiences of mortality have been arraigned and set forth to test and try us. President Brigham Young told us that many of the difficulties in this life have been given to us in order to prove us and prepare us for the glories of eternity:
“If the people could see and understand things as they are, instead of saying, ‘I have sacrificed a great deal for this kingdom,’ they would understand that they had made no sacrifices at all. . . .
“Instead of concluding that the Lord has drawn us into difficulties and compelled us to do that which is unpleasant to our feelings and to suffer sacrifice upon sacrifice to no purpose, we should understand that He has designed all this to prepare us to dwell in His presence. . . .
“And when He is calling us to pass through that which we call afflictions, trials, temptations and difficulties, did we possess the light of the Spirit we would consider this the greatest blessing that could be bestowed upon us.”21
Even though we need to go through trials in order to refine our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ will help and strengthen us during these times of difficulty. He will lighten our loads as we rely upon Him.22 As the Lord promised the Prophet Joseph in the depths of the dungeon of Liberty Jail, “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 foes.”23
The Lord’s Promised Heritage for the Righteous
The Lord has given us many promises of the joy the righteous will inherit during the Millennium, once the times of trial have passed:
“All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.”24
Heavenly knowledge will be poured down upon the Saints as their minds are filled with gospel precepts from the courts on high. Peace and joy will be enjoyed by the righteous, and this will soon spread to the members of the animal kingdom:
“And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
“Wherefore, the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time.”25
The joy of the righteous will be complete in that day. The Lord will gather His children to the lands of Zion, and they will relish and bask in the glory of His presence as He fills their souls with the words of eternal life. Satan will be bound and mankind will no longer be afflicted by his temptations. The prophet Nephi said:
“The righteous [shall] be led up as calves of the stall, and the Holy One of Israel [shall] reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.
“And He gathereth His children from the four quarters of the earth; and He numbereth His sheep, and they know Him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and He shall feed His sheep, and in Him they shall find pasture.
“And because of the righteousness of His people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.”26
President Brigham Young poignantly described the glories that await the righteous who are faithful during the last days:
“Perhaps some in this house will live until Jesus and the Saints come, but I expect to sleep. I have no promise of living until then. I can say with regard to parting with our friends, and going ourselves, that I have been near enough to understand eternity so that I have had to exercise a great deal more faith to desire to live than I ever exercised in my whole life to live.
“The brightness and glory of the next apartment is inexpressible. It is not encumbered with this clog of dirt we are carrying around here so that when we advance in years we have to be stubbing along and to be careful lest we fall down. We see our youth, even, frequently stubbing their toes and falling down.
“But yonder, how different! They move with ease and like lightning. If we want to visit Jerusalem, or this, that, or the other place---and I presume we will be permitted if we desire---there we are, looking at its streets. If we want to behold Jerusalem as it was in the days of the Savior; or if we want to see the Garden of Eden as it was when created, there we are, and we see it as it existed spiritually, for it was created first spiritually and then temporally, and spiritually it still remains. And when there we may behold the earth as at the dawn of creation, or we may visit any city we please that exists upon its surface.”27
Those who remain true and faithful will be able to inherit these wonderful privileges. Their lives will be filled with eternal joy and happiness. The Prophet Joseph was privileged to see the miraculous beauty of what will occur on the morning of the resurrection, and he told the Saints:
“So plain was the vision, that I actually saw men, before they had ascended from the tomb, as though they were getting up slowly. They took each other by the hand and said to each other, ‘My father! My son! My mother! My daughter! My brother! My sister!’
“And when the voice calls for the dead to arise, suppose I am laid by the side of my father, what would be the first joy of my heart? To meet my father, my mother, my brother, my sister; and when they are by my side, I embrace them and they me. . . .
“All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.”28
No sacrifice that we can be called upon to bear in the last days will be too great in comparison with the honor and joy that will be felt by each of us on that glorious day of resurrection when we meet again our long-lost friends, family and kindred. All of our temporary losses will seem inconsequential on that day. As Joseph wrote to the Saints when he was hiding from his would-be captors in Nauvoo:
“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.
“Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy!
“And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare His name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!
“Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
“Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in His holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.”29
We Must Rely Upon the Lord
In the events of the last days, the righteous will be blessed like no other people. When the Lord bares His arm to destroy the wicked nations, those who have followed Him will be watched over and protected. The remainder of the people will feel the wrath of a just God upon them.
Our only hope of salvation in the latter days is the power of Almighty God. He is the only sure staff of strength upon which we must lean. As Elder George Q. Cannon counseled the Saints when they were facing severe persecution:
“Our only hope is our God; our only strength is in Him and in His providence, and He will deliver us. Let me say to you, that he has never yet failed to deliver us; and His promises are as firm and immovable as His eternal throne.
“We can rely upon Him with the utmost assurance that we shall not be deceived; but that in the direst extremity, in the darkest hour, in the midst of the deepest trials and afflictions, His arm will be extended in our behalf, and His providence be exerted to save and to deliver us. We can rest assured of this. Therefore, however dark the prospects may be, however gloomy, let us remember that He who sits on high knows our condition, and that He can deliver us.
“He will interpose at the very moment when it is needed and rescue us from every evil, and He will defeat and bring to naught, every plan and device which is concocted against the peace and prosperity of those who put their trust in Him and in the great work which He has established in the earth. This I can bear testimony to. I know whereof I speak.
“I know just as well as I know that I stand here, and that I am speaking to you, that the Latter-day Saints, this Church, or what we call the Zion of our God, will be delivered, and it will roll forth in mighty power, and it will accomplish all that has been predicted concerning it.”30
As we rely upon the grace of our Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will make it through the events of the last days. The Lord has promised that those who faithfully follow Him “shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”31 With our faith in Jesus Christ burning strongly within our souls, we will have peace of mind, and live with hope flowing forth from our hearts.
Our Father in Heaven loves each of us very deeply, with the love of a perfect Father. It is a love that is so expansive and all consuming that we are unable to comprehend it fully and remain in the flesh. As we rely upon Him and upon His Son, we will be given peace, hope, and strength, and we will rise triumphantly when Jesus Christ returns again.
1 . D&C 128:22.
2 . Helaman 5:12.
3 . Brigham Young, February 20, 1853, Journal of Discourses 1:313; emphasis added.
4 . Brigham Young, February 20, 1853, Journal of Discourses 1:313-314.
5 . Brigham Young, August 1, 1852, Journal of Discourses 1:359.
6 . Brigham Young, June 27, 1873, Journal of Discourses 16:113.
7 . D&C 127:2-3.
8 . D&C 127:2, 128:20-24.
9 . D&C 127:2; emphasis added.
10 . Heber C. Kimball, March 1, 1857, Journal of Discourses 4:248-249.
11 . Brother Joseph, pp. 563, 564, 614, 677-678, 775, 801, 804, 806-807.
12 . George A. Smith, “My Journal,” Juvenile Instructor (1946) 81:463.
13 . Mercy Thompson, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor (1892) 27:398-399.
14 . Rachel Ridgeway Grant, “Joseph Smith the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal (December 1905) 16:550-551.
15 . William Taylor, “Joseph Smith the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal (December 1906) 17:548.
16 . Helen Mar Whitney, “Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo,” Woman’s Exponent (November 15, 1882) 11:146.
17 . Autobiography of Mosiah Lyman Hancock, typescript, BYU Special Collections, p. 3.
18 . Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare Yourselves for the Great Day of the Lord,” April 14, 1981, Speeches of the Year (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1981), p. 68; emphasis added.
19 . Brigham Young, March 29, 1857, Journal of Discourses 4:299.
20 . D&C 101:37-38; emphasis added.
21 . Brigham Young, June 3, 1855, Journal of Discourses 2:302-303; emphasis added.
22 . Matthew 11:28-30.
23 . D&C 121:7-8.
24 . 3 Nephi 22:13-14; Isaiah 54:13-14.
25 . 2 Nephi 30:12-18; see Isaiah 11:6-9.
26 . 1 Nephi 22:24-26.
27 . Brigham Young, September 16, 1871, Journal of Discourses 14:231.
28 . History of the Church 5:362.
29 . D&C 128:22-24.
30 . George Q. Cannon, August 31, 1884, Journal of Discourses 25:274.
31 . 3 Nephi 24:17.