Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lessons from Liberty Jail

Hello Sisters!

Happy November!!! We are so thankful for all of YOU! You are some of the most wonderful blessings in our lives.

Today's Relief Society lesson was given to us by Kerinda. She taught from an Ensign Article by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland entitled, "Lessons from Liberty Jail." The article was taken from a CES fireside he gave. Here is a link to the fireside.

It is a great article with some wonderful pictures. There is so much in it that we did not have time to cover in class today. Print it out and keep it in your purse so that you can pull it out and read it when you are waiting for kids to get out of school, or at the doctors/dentists office, or stuck in traffic, or waiting for the kids to finish their piano lessons, etc. We have so many little moments in our lives that we can fill with something good. This is a great way to start.

As Kerinda taught us, Elder Holland states that there are four lessons that he would like us to learn from Liberty Jail. They are:

1. Everyone faces trying times.

Elder Holland says, "When that happens we can sometimes fear God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he asked why such sorrow had to come and how long its darkness and damage would remain. We identify with him when he cries from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou? . . . How long shall thy hand be stayed . . . ? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people] suffer . . . before . . . thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (D&C 121:1–3). That is a painful, personal cry—a cry from the heart, a spiritual loneliness we may all have occasion to feel at some time in our lives. Perhaps you have had such moments already in your young lives. If so, I hope you have not had too many. But whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us."

2. Even the Worthy will suffer.

"And when we promise to follow the Savior, to walk in His footsteps and be His disciples, we are promising to go where that divine path leads us. And the path of salvation has always led one way or another through Gethsemane. So if the Savior faced such injustices and discouragements, such persecutions, unrighteousness, and suffering, we cannot expect that we are not going to face some of that if we still intend to call ourselves His true disciples and faithful followers. And it certainly underscores the fact that the righteous—in the Savior’s case, the personification of righteousness— can be totally worthy before God and still suffer."

3. Remain Calm, Patient, Charitable, and Forgiving

"Remaining true to our Christian principles is the only way divine influence can help us. The Spirit has a nearimpossible task to get through to a heart that is filled with hate or anger or vengeance or self-pity. Those are all antithetical to the Spirit of the Lord. On the other hand, the Spirit finds instant access to a heart striving to be charitable and forgiving, long-suffering and kind—principles of true discipleship. What a testimony that gospel principles are to apply at all times and in all situations and that if we strive to remain faithful, the triumph of a Christian life can never be vanquished, no matter how grim the circumstance might be. How I love the majesty of these elegant, celestial teachings taught, ironically, in such a despicable setting and time."

4. Do All Things Cheerfully

"In this final canonized statement of the Liberty Jail experience, the Lord says to us through His prophet, Joseph Smith, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren [and sisters, when we are in even the most troubling of times], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17; italics added).

What a tremendously optimistic and faithful concluding declaration to be issued from a prisontemple! When he wrote those lines, Joseph did not know when he would be released or if he would ever be released. There was every indication that his enemies were still planning to take his life. Furthermore, his wife and children were alone, frightened, often hungry, wondering how they would fend for themselves without their husband and father. The Saints, too, were without homes and without their prophet. They were leaving Missouri, heading for Illinois, but who knew what tragedies were awaiting them there? Surely, to say it again, it was the bleakest and darkest of times. Yet in these cold, lonely hours, Joseph says let us do all we can and do it cheerfully. And then we can justifiably turn to the Lord, wait upon His mercy, and see His arm revealed in our behalf. What a magnificent attitude to maintain in good times or bad, in sorrow or in joy!"

In the CES Fireside, Elder Holland closed with a blessing to the sisters. He said, "I bless the sisters within this audience and within the sound of my voice. I would have you know how much we cherish you, how much God cherishes you, and how much the flag of faith has been flown by the sisters of this Church from the beginning. In every generation, it would seem, from the beginning of time down to the present hour and beyond, so often it has been the women in our lives—our grandmothers, our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our granddaughters—who have taken that torch of faith and that banner of beautiful living and have carried gospel principles wherever it would take them, against whatever hardship, into their own little equivalent of Liberty Jails and difficult times. Sisters, we love you and honor you and bless you. We ask that every righteous desire of your heart, tonight and forever, be answered upon your head and that you will walk away from this devotional with the understanding and the knowledge firmly in your heart as to how much God and heaven and the presiding Brethren of this Church love you and honor you. "

Sisters, we hope that you also realize how much your Relief Society Presidency loves you. Please know that we want to be available to you whenever and however we can. Have a wonderful week! Let's spend this week counting our blessings and watching for moments that we can be a blessing to those around us, our families, our neighbors, our friends, our sisters.

Love, Your Relief Society Presidency

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