I’ve had good occasion of late to spend a lot of time considering the value of being a powerful example of Jesus Christ in these last days. On some days it brings huge rewards, and others, not so much. It brings to mind the struggles and trials many prophets, through the ages, have undergone. It helps me to stop, breathe and reassess what I do. When all is said and done, I am still a daughter of God, standing for His Son, Jesus Christ and willing to proclaim Christ’s Gospel to the world.
Looking back on the words of Joseph Smith, Jr. as he proclaimed to the world:
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. (Joseph Smith History 1:25)
Once truth has been made known to a son or daughter of God, as it was to Joseph Smith, Jr. it behooves that person to stay the course. And Joseph Smith did. No one can say he didn’t suffer terribly for his knowledge and testimony of God. No one can say he didn’t get up every single day, put one foot in front of another, and continue that steady, unfailing course toward Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
I draw on the example of Joseph Smith often in my life. That I might shake off my struggles and worries and remember the most important thing: Jesus Christ lives and that He is my Savior and Redeemer. Because of Him, and only Him, will I return to my heavenly home and greet my Father in Heaven with great joy. And I often think to myself, I have not suffered (nor even come close) as Joseph Smith suffered and I am grateful for my challenges, trials and worries for they come nowhere to close to what this beloved prophet of ours suffered.
Or, let us look to Jonah, that ancient prophet of old. He was commanded by Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ, to journey to Nineveh and preach repentance to the people else they would be destroyed. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, he didn’t believe they were worth saving for they had killed his family. Jonah argued with the Lord and in an act of direct disobedience, set sail for Tarshish. All on that ship suffered greatly until Jonah drew the short end of the proverbial stick, was tossed overboard and swallowed by a whale. Yuck.
Eventually, after a hasty discharge from the belly of the whale, Jonah took that 3-day journey to Nineveh and preached repentance to the people or destruction would be visited upon their city after 40 days. And Nineveh repented.
Jonah, on the other hand, went and set himself on the side of a mountain overlooking Nineveh and waited for their destruction. It didn’t happen and he was so angry. Those who had killed his family did not, in his heart, deserve to live and Jonah was not willing to accept the declaration of Jehovah that Nineveh had repented and been spared. (See Jonah 1-4)
What is the lesson I take from this biblical story? No matter what we know or what horror has been visited upon us we must stop, listen and accept the Lord’s judgment. It is not my job, or yours, to judge because we cannot know another’s heart. Oh, we think we might, but we cannot. God knows all things, we do not. It serves no purpose to argue with God, Jonah, as you will see in Chapter 4, paid the price for bucking Jehovah on the redemption of Nineveh. Worms, unforgiving sun, and harsh winds were visited upon him and still Jonah did not want the people of Nineveh to be forgiven. It ends with the Lord asking, Jonah:
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? (See Jonah 4:11)
And so I ask, cannot I spare those who have done a disservice to me, for those who have perpetrated such hatred upon me are also children of God whom He loves dearly.
So yes, these examples of these prophets teach powerful lessons which would be wise to internalize, for I am attempting to do that very thing.