Date

July 16, 2015

Area

Provo MTC

Companion

Elder Buckway

Farewell Talk

In terms of facing adversity, the pioneers that crossed the plains experienced more hardships than most will ever face in a lifetime. They trekked for hundreds, even thousands of miles with serious illnesses, little food, and even in the dead of winter. Many died on the trek to Salt lake, but of all those who survived, none did doubt in their faith. In the words of Francis Webster, who was a member of the Willie handcart company, “Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities!” Our Savior is always there ready to help us in our most dire time of need. We just have to have faith in Him that he will not give up on us, and if we keep our faith, we will be rewarded with strength and greater faith than before.
In order to understand how the pioneers kept their faith in Christ and even strengthened it, we must explore what it means to have faith in Christ. Having faith in Christ is more than just professing to believe that he exists. One thing we don’t usually consider when thinking about faith is trust. Trusting in the Lord should come hand in hand with faith, and one shouldn’t come without the other. Part of having faith in Christ is putting your trust in him. To have faith in him is to trust he will provide for us, strengthen us, comfort us, answer our prayers, and to trust that he knows what is best for us. Dallin H. Oaks said, “we must trust him enough that we are content to accept his will, knowing that he knows what is best for us.” The pioneers knew this, and many of them accepted the fact that perhaps they weren’t going to make it through the trek west, yet, they still went forth in faith.
There are many examples in the scriptures that illustrate the kind of faith in Christ the pioneers did. In the 5th chapter of Luke, a man with palsy was lowered through a rooftop so that Jesus could heal him. The scriptures say, “And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee”. And thus because of their faith, the man was healed. The stripling warriors had to have the same kind of faith as well. “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” The ‘sons’ of Helaman trusted in the Lord so much that they did not fear death even in the middle of battle. That is the kind of faith in Christ we should actively seek, that we might always trust in him to help us. The Lord wants to help us, but His power can only help us if we have faith in him.
Now, this all comes to the point that without faith in the first place, our faith cannot grow. In Alma 32, it says, “yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.” If we never have faith in Christ to begin with, then we cannot progress in our faith. Alma teaches us that if we but plant the seed of faith in our hearts, and nourish it, it will grow. And again, Alma says, “with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”
We know of what Moroni says of faith; that “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” The pioneers had to experience just that. They were asked that they should travel to join the saints in the west, despite knowledge of harsh conditions, sacrifice of time, illness, or even complete lack of knowledge thereof. Still they pressed on, and the Lord did help them in their trials. Some may dispute that the ones who died on the trek were not blessed, or even forgotten by God, yet, I would say that they were likely those who had the most faith. Francis Webster also said this, “The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay.” The pioneers witnessed many miracles alongside their suffering.
Here is one of these miracles from Ann Rowley
Night was coming and there was no food for the evening meal. I asked God’s help as I always did. I got on my knees, remembering two hard sea biscuits that were still in my trunk. They had been left over from the sea voyage. They were not large and were so hard they couldn’t be broken. Surely that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5,000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God’s help, nothing is impossible.
I found the biscuits and put them in a dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God’s blessing. Then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient food."
One might ask, how could the pioneers have their faith only grow after facing so many hardships, even death? Because of their faith, they were blessed and were able to make it through their trials. It would only make sense that if it was God who delivered them from their afflictions and provided so many miracles for them, that they would only grow closer to Him. Those who have faith in adversity look to God, and as a result only grow closer to Him. As said by M Russell. Ballard, “Truly the Lord encourages us to walk in faith to the edge of the light and beyond—into the unknown. After the trial of our faith, He once again shines the light ahead of us, and our journey of faith in every footstep continues.” We can apply this same course of thought to ourselves.
Just because we don’t have these same kind of trials and miracles in our lives doesn’t mean that our faith is less significant. Gods loves us just as much as he loved the pioneers, and all his children. He has said this to us, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Faith and trials come hand in hand as we have learned that faith grows from trials, and the Lord will try us as long as we have faith in him. We should never doubt in the Lord, for he knows what we are going through when we face adversity.
How might we increase our faith now, so that we can keep our faith in Christ when trails come? Faith, like a seed, when planted must be nourished in order to grow. When a plant fails to be nourished, it stops growing and begins to wither and die. Such is the same with faith, it must be nourished or else it will be lost. As we have already seen from the pioneers, obedience to the commandments of God will strengthen our faith. One other way to nourish faith is to pray to our Heavenly Father and Christ often. Keeping that constant connection between Him and us through prayer, always seeking His help, seeking blessing in all things will help us see all that he does for us. This way we can give to him our gratitude for the blessing we receive. At the same time, we will become more in tune with the spirit to guide us as we go about our lives.
Let us become like the pioneers, willing to give up everything that we have to obey God’s commandments. Let us have faith enough to endure all trials that we may become stronger in faith and spirit. May we always look to Christ in our adversity, that he may comfort us, guide us, and help us to be faithful to the end. Do not doubt in Christ, for he is perfect in love and understanding. He has promised us, in his words, that, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” The pioneers had faith in Him, and we know they were given that power.
As I prepare to leave on my mission in a little less than 3 days, every kind of doubt, troubling thought, and reason to stay has entered my mind in an attempt of the adversary to keep me from going. He is working harder than ever to stop the work of the Lord, but I know that the devil cannot stop this work. I have desired to serve the Lord ever since I was a child, and no work of the devil will alter that, no matter what he throws at me. I truly hope that my faith will be sufficient to endure what is to be the greatest trial of my life so far as I travel to Argentina. At the same time, I know that if my trust is in the Lord, and my heart is set on serving him, then my faith will be sufficient. Those doubts that I feel, are nothing compared to the joy that will come as I bring others to the knowledge of their Savior. The troubling thoughts that I have, they will be swept away by the Spirit of the Lord and my mind be filled with peace. All the reasons that I have to stay here at home, their worth is nothing compared to all the reasons that I have to go. As the pioneers, I choose to give up all that I have, for two years, to serve the Lord and the people of Argentina. I love them already, even at this time and I have never met them. I see them as they are and as they can become. They are children of our Father, our brothers and sisters, and equal heirs to His kingdom. I cannot wait to meet them and serve them.
Testimony
ITNOJCA




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