From M. Russell Ballard
O N E // In recent days, I've become so aware of how hungry our whole world is for purpose, for peace, and for the leadership of Christ, as I'm sure you have, too. As a young boy, Joseph saw this same yearning in the Christian revival. People in his area sought the Lord, but they also sought personal gain, leadership, and notoriety. Instead of being swept up in the religious fervor, he quietly turned to the scriptures, and came across James 1:5. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace? I'm reminded that while I'm surrounded by amazing leaders, the truthfulness of Christ's gospel, and all kinds of media which I can use to my spiritual advantage, I've also been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which entitles me to speak directly with Heavenly Father for revelation, comfort, and love.
T W O // What kept Joseph moving forward when he was being attacked from both sides of the veil? When Joseph began preparing for his role as a prophet of God, he received scorn and hatred from self-proclaimed men of God. "I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days."
I can't help but relate this to modern day issues, where good is branded as evil and evil is touted as good. It can be easy, among such emphatic voices, to become disoriented about where truth lies. As Joseph worked tirelessly to translate the gold plates and establish a church amid sects which united against him, we can see the anchors which kept him tethered to the Spirit, able to press on with determination and even joy: he had a loving wife, parents and brothers who supported him, he held fast to the scriptures (the ORIGINAL plates!), and he was familiar with God through communication and revelation. These are all resources we have available to us today!
T H R E E // In this talk, President Ballard talks extensively of the special relationship between brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and makes special mention of Hyrum's loyalty to Joseph throughout the early days of the Restoration. It was an extremely trying time for both men and their families with jailings, mob violence, and the uprooting of their homes. While both men strove for the reestablishment of the Church on earth, their families were tested and tormented, but they held fast to each other in loyalty, devotion, and brotherly love. Hyrum was given the choice to escape or to lay down his life "to glorify God." In an act of profound brotherhood, he stayed with his brother Joseph to the end, and chose to "seal his testimony with his blood."
How sweet it is to know that through all of our trials, we have each other to lean on and support. Even sweeter still is the knowledge that our Heavenly Brother, Jesus Christ, has chosen to stay with us to the end, to lay down his life for us as an act of redemption by proxy, of companionship and love.
"We have overcome the world by love."
M. Russell Ballard
"Bretheren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, bretheren [and sisters]; and on, on to the victory!"
M. Russell Ballard
C H A L L E N G E // President Ballard invites us to "consider what offering you will present to the Lord in righteousness in the coming days." I challenge you to make this offering real, even physical, if possible! Give up a sin or a pride you've been hoarding. Conversely, deepen your discipleship with a faith-based activity such as scripture study, daily prayer, service and ministry, or fasting.
Write it down. Put it somewhere you'll see it and be reminded of the offering you're making to the Lord. As you do, remember the profound offering made by Hyrum and Joseph Smith, as well as many of the early Saints.