I have often wondered what was on Abinadi’s mind as the fire that would engulf and kill him burned hotter and hotter. Did he wonder if he’d been a good missionary, because after all, there wasn’t a rush of converts from King Noah’s court.
I have often wondered what was on Abinadi’s mind as the fire that would engulf and kill him burned hotter and hotter. Did he wonder if he’d been a good missionary, because after all, there wasn’t a rush of converts from King Noah’s court.
Hello, we’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Today we study Mosiah chapters 18-24, “We Have Entered into a Covenant with Him”. Thanks to so many of you listeners who reach out to us. We love hearing from you. We ran into four more beautiful listeners at our local park this morning—they were radiant and full of love. That certainly made our day. Please remember the transcript of the podcast is at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast.
Now, Maurine, your question is intriguing. His testimony of Jesus Christ burned so bright, Abinadi was compelled to bear it, but we don’t know if he realized that somebody in that court was listening, and he would have at least one convert from his preaching. But what a convert. Alma the Elder, whose efforts changed the entire rest of the history of the Book of Mormon.
Alma was a direct descendant of Nephi and father of a nine-generation line of prophets. As Arthur Bassett notes, “This prophetic dynasty, which began with Alma more than a century and a half before the birth of Christ, ended more than 300 years after His coming.” (Arthur R. Bassett, “Alma, the Younger” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1977/02/alma-the-elder?lang=eng )
You can’t always measure your life by the results you get. We had a friend from the UK who visited Utah for the first time and went to the Salt Lake Temple. There in the celestial room, she saw this gentleman watching her. She went over to say hello, and it was clear that he had been caught by her British accent. He asked where she was from and it just so happened to be the very area where he had served a mission. “So, you still know anyone there?” she asked.
Then, a little crestfallen, with a disappointment it was clear that he had carried his entire life, he told her that he looked at his mission as a failure. He didn’t see anyone come into the church. Then, however, he gave the name of one family that he had taught, but he had been transferred away before he ever learned what happened. He guessed that they finally stopped taking the lessons as so many others had.
“What’s the name of that family,” our British friend asked him. When he gave the name, she had to smile. The little boy he had taught in that family was now her stake president.
Our friend said she knew it was a tender mercy for this good man to ease an ache that he had carried for a very long time. What are the chances they would “just happen” to meet in the celestial room of the Salt Lake Temple when she had never been there before? I like what you always say about that, Maurine: 100%!
Alma had been spiritually moved by Abinadi’s testimony and went about privately teaching his words to those who would listen. They were the good tidings of great joy—the resurrection of the dead, and the redemption of the people brought to pass “through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven” (Mosiah 18:2)
They gathered together at the waters of Mormon in great oneness. Artists paint the waters of Mormon as a place of beauty, fresh springs and flowers, yet the greatest beauty was what was happening in their inner lives and their connection with each other. Leaving their homes and gathering together for the gospel must have engendered in them a sense of community and unity, which is also reflected in what Alma says next:
“Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places…what have you against being baptized of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18: 8,9).
To stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places was a bold promise for a people who were an unpopular minority who would be pursued by the king.
Let’s discuss two things about this. First, Book of Mormon prophets believed that priesthood authority was necessary both for baptism and the establishment of the Church. We see this clearly when Alma baptizes Helam and both are immersed.
Alma says, “I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him” (Mosiah 18:13). We learn that he was a “high priest, he being the founder of their church” (Mosiah 23:6).
We also learn that King Limhi and his people had to wait for their baptism because “there was none in the land that had authority from God” (Mosiah 21:33).
Where did Alma get the priesthood? This answer isn’t given to us directly and we are reminded that the Book of Mormon is an abridgment by Mormon, taken from the Nephite records. This is what Joseph Fielding Smith says about it:
“In the case of Alma and his priesthood, we are left to surmise that he legally and divinely received it before the days of King Noah. We read that Zeniff, the father of Noah, was a righteous man. Alma evidently received the priesthood in the days of Zeniff, and at no time did he fully accept the teachings nor with full purpose follow the counsels and procedure of Noah and his wicked priests…
“Just at what time Alma received the priesthood is not clearly stated, but we may presume that it occurred before Noah came to the throne. Moreover, we must also conclude that Alma at no time truly entered into the wickedness of this wicked king…” https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Where_did_Alma_the_Elder_get_the_legitimate_priesthood_authority_to_baptize_at_the_waters_of_Mormon%3F
The other possibility is that he could have secretly met with Abinadi in prison, by night, before Abinadi’s martyrdom and received the priesthood by the laying on of hands through the bars.
So, Alma declares that their baptism “would be a witness before [the Lord] that ye have entered into a covenant with him”. Later, when King Limhi and his people want to be baptized, they also understood the meaning of it in covenantal language, that baptism was “a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts” (Mosiah 21:35).
Hearing what their baptism covenant means gives us new understanding of our own. We’ve mentioned that the people promise to come into the fold of God, be called His people, bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who need comfort, stand as a witness of God at all times and in all places and keep his commandments.”
God in turn promises to redeem them, number them with those of the first resurrection, give eternal life, and pour out his Spirit abundantly upon them. Remember that a covenant is a two-way promise where God sets the terms.
What is eye-opening is that it is because the Spirit is poured out abundantly upon you, that you can keep your end of the covenant and live in such unity with each other. Then, with the Spirit, of course, you naturally would mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who need comfort, and of course you would stand as a witness because when the Spirit is upon you, your need to bear testimony is as Wilford Woodruff said “like a fire shut up in your bones.” The Spirit cascades light and love and knowledge and empathy upon you, certainly more than you could ever manufacture yourself.
The unity and love that flows from this baptismal covenant reminds me of June 27, 2002, Scot when you and I were at the Nauvoo Temple dedication. This was a temple that the early Latter-day Saints had built out of sacrifice and, as it was going up, they were building their wagons to leave, forced out by the threats of mobs. As their wagons rolled out of Nauvoo, they crossed the river and came to a hill where they had their last glimpse of their stunning white temple on the hill. It left them in tears. Their journals attest to that.
So, the sense of joy at having this temple rebuilt and ready for dedication was in the air that morning as we walked the streets of Nauvoo before the dedication. It was really like the air itself was sweet, that everything had a quality of light about it that wasn’t of this world. Everyone felt it. You could see it from the light and joy on their countenances.
This kinship we felt for each other as Latter-day Saints meant no one was a stranger. We loved everyone we saw with a portion of God’s love for them. It was intense and we had the sense that we never wanted this experience to end. If we could have held on to that feeling and that love for a lifetime, we would have. That’s how the Spirit makes these baptismal covenants possible. We live in unity one with another as all of our hearts are centered on the Savior and making his commandments real and powerful to us. That’s why we were united in pure joy that day when the much beloved Nauvoo temple was dedicated.
The Lord seeks oneness for His people. Zion is the place of one heart and one mind. Why does that matter so much? Because that unity where we feel compassion for each other makes us happy, and division makes us miserable.
What a contrast that is to our angry, divisive time. President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of an experience he had reading the morning paper and listening to television when he was in Washington DC for a week. “The amount of venom that spewed from the mouths and pens of the commentators was unbelievable. They were aflame with indignation. In all that week of morning watching and reading I never heard nor read among the commentators and editorialists a single paragraph of positive thought. The speakers were brilliant. They were men of incisive language, scintillating in expression. The columnists were masters of the written word. With studied art they poured out the sour vinegar of invective and anger, judging as if all wisdom belonged to them.
“At the conclusion of that week,” he said, “I too made a negative observation. Said I, “Surely this is the age and place of the gifted pickle sucker.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,” BYU Speeches, October 29, 1974)
He said that in 1974, before social media and 24 hours news cycles. I wonder how he would describe our time?
What’s hard about this angry world we live in is that it divides us, and this way of regarding one another can become a norm. We can all become pickle suckers in our speech and outlook and not know when the habit stole upon us. And being a pickle sucker we can think that we are a pretty big dill (deal!). Ha. We can come to think that the smart and cool people among us blast off at others, and that it is our right to do so too. We’ve made covenants instead to comfort those in need of comfort, not be their critics.
Let us not take on the spirit of our time and divide from one another, pit ourselves against each other, seek to out do one another, yell louder than each other.
If we want to have the spirit, we have to drop every form of contention and division.
The Lord said, “If ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27). Brigham Young said it this way, “If we are not one, we are not in the true sense of the word the disciples of the Lord.”
He continued, “A perfect oneness will save a people, because intelligent beings cannot become perfectly one, only by acting upon principles that pertain to eternal life. Wicked men may be partially united in evil; but in the very nature of things, such a union is of short duration. The very principle upon which they are partially united will itself breed contention and disunion.
“The Savior sought continually to impress upon the minds of His disciples that a perfect oneness reigned among all celestial beings—that the Father and the Son and their Minister, the Holy Ghost, were one in their administration in heaven and among the people pertaining to this earth…If the heavenly hosts were not one, they would be entirely unfit to dwell…with the Father and Ruler of the universe.”
Brigham continued, “Jesus…prayed the Father to make His disciples one, as He and His Father were one. He knew that if they did not become one, they could not be saved in the celestial Kingdom of God. If persons do not see as He did while in the flesh, hear as He heard, understand as He understood, and become precisely as He was, according to their several capacities and callings, they can never dwell with Him and His Father. (Journal of Discourses, Volume 7:276.). [see also John 17:20-21; 3 Nephi 19:23]
The people of Alma at the Waters of Mormon were a little Zion, who imparted freely to each other both temporally and spiritually “of their own free will and good desires towards God (Mosiah 18:28). Their priests “waxed strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God” (Mosiah 18:26).
And all this while the king and his army were seeking them. So, there came a day when Alma’s people learned that the army was coming and they departed into the wilderness for a new location.
Which, then, of course, takes us back to what’s been happening with Noah. It’s what you’d expect. Where there has been unity with Alma’s people, there are divisions among Noah’s to the point that Gideon seeks to slay Noah with a sword. Like a scene from the movies, he chases him up to a tower where it seems the deed is about to be done, when from that vantage, they see the ultimate threat–that a Lamanite army has entered the borders of their land. Noah cries out, “Spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people (Mosiah 19:7)
I love the sardonic comment inserted here: “And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless Gideon did spare his life” (Mosiah 19:8). We used to ask our Institute classes, what are the chances that Gideon was going to succeed here and kill Noah. The answer, of course, was 0%.
Why? Gideon was stronger. He had Noah right up on that tower. Remember, however, what Abinadi had prophecied about Noah:
“17 Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro, even as a wild flock is driven by wild and ferocious beasts.
We see this prophecy literally fulfilled. God both inspires his prophets and honors their words. Let’s see how this plays out with Noah. Apparently overwhelmed by the Lamanite forces, Noah tells his people to flee into the wilderness with their women and children. In this way, they are traveling too slowly, so Noah “commanded” that the men, leave their wives and children behind.
That’s a brutal, selfish command. Can you imagine what might happen to wives and children left behind to face a cruel army? Some of the men left and some didn’t. I’d hate to think what those wives who were left behind might say to their husbands if they ever saw them again.
When the Lamanites came upon them, the husbands who stayed with their wives caused them to stand forth and plead for their lives. (This still doesn’t feel like a really great deal for the women, yet they were convincing.)
The Lamanites were both charmed and had compassion, sparing their lives, but taking them as captives. They were able to keep their land with the “tiny” stipulation that they both delivered up half of all they possessed and king Noah into their hands.
Limhi, Noah’s son, had no illusions about what kind of man his father was, but he did not want to see him destroyed.
Gideon, of course, is of a different mind, and sent his men back into the wilderness to look for the king, his priests and those cowards who had left their wives behind.
But this last group who had abandoned their wives had second thoughts. They wanted to return to their families and perish with them, but Noah wouldn’t hear of it. Enraged, they put him to death by fire.
He became a crispy critter.
They would have also killed the priests, but they fled before them and got away.
Remarkably the men who had abandoned their families, returned home were reunited with them, rejoicing that their wives and children were not slain. These must be astonishingly patient women to allow them back home.
The Nephites pledged half their possessions to the Lamanites, and in return they promised that they won’t slay them. Limhi becomes king. It sounds like war between them is about to come to an end.
Yes, but we have these pesky, trouble-making priests, who are heedless of anybody else, but their own lusts. They have lived falsely and selfishly and they continue to do so.
In the wilderness they discovered the place where the daughters of the Lamanites came together to dance and laid and watched them. Then when there but a few of them, the priests crept out of their secret places and stole twenty and four of the daughters.
As expected, the Lamanites were furious and attacked Limhi and his people, believing they were at fault. Their goal was the destruction of the people of Limhi.
Though they were outnumbered, the people of Limhi fought like lions, drove the Lamanites back, and the king of the Lamanites, wounded, but still living, lay among the dead. He had been left behind by the speedy retreat of the Lamanites.
He was brought to Limhi, who asked the most natural questions, “What cause have ye to come up to war against my people?…My people have not broken the oath that I made unto you;…why should ye break the oath which ye made unto my people?” (Mosiah 20:14)
The king, of course, responded that he has broken the oath because the people of Limhi had carried away the daughters of the Lamanites “and in my anger I did cause my people to come up to war against thy people” (Mosiah 20:15).
Limhi has not heard of this, but he promised to search among his people and whosoever had done this would perish. When Gideon got wind of this he said to Limhi not to search the people, “For do ye not remember the priests of thy father, whom this people sought to destroy? And are they not in the wilderness? And are not they the ones who have stolen the daughters of the Lamanites?”
When the Lamanite king heard the story about the wickedness of the priests, he did an amazing thing. He believed it. What follows is a touching scene, for just a moment there is a bridge across that eternal divide between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Without arms and totally defenseless, the Nephites go out to meet the ferocious Lamanites, whom they have fought so sorely. The Lamanite king goes before the Nephites, bows himself down and pleads in behalf of the people of Limhi. The Lamanites relent.
Here Limhi’s people have seen costly war, have forfeited half their possessions, have been driven, divided, and killed and Noah has been burned to death by his own people. This is just as Abinadi said it would be.. Limhi acknowledged it, “For are not all the words of Abinadi fulfilled which he prophesied against us—and all this because we would not hearken unto the words of the Lord, and turn from our iniquities?
The prophecies of the Lord, spoken through his servants the prophets are fulfilled, just as we see it here. Who would have dreamed as Abinadi stood before the impressive court of king Noah where amongst powerful, wealthy, arrogant people, that he could so totally nail what would happen to them if they did not repent?
But remember, what the Lord says in Doctrine and Covenants 1:38: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
Just looking at his recent talks and articles, what prophecies has President Nelson given us, often by reminding us of scripture? So many. It is important that we take the word of the prophet with the gravity and sobriety it deserves. These are prophecies that will be fulfilled.
He has said:
“Remember that the fulness of Christ’s ministry lies in the future. The prophecies of His Second Coming have yet to be fulfilled. We are just building up to the climax of this last dispensation—when the Savior’s Second Coming becomes a reality.”
President Nelson said, “The time is coming when those who do not obey the Lord will be separated from those who do (see Doctrine and Covenants 86:1–7).”
He said, “I promise that if we will do our best to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and access the power of His Atonement through repentance, we will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.”
President Nelson said, “The Lord will return to the land that He made holy by His mission there in mortality. In triumph, He will come again to Jerusalem.”
“In that day He will bear new titles and be surrounded by special Saints. He will be known as “Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that [will be] with him [will be those who] are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14) to their trust here in mortality.
“It is our charge—it is our privilege—to help prepare the world for that day.”
President Nelson said, “Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested.” (President Russell M. Nelson, “The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/04/the-future-of-the-church-preparing-the-world-for-the-saviors-second-coming?lang=eng
Here President Nelson is telling us that the Lord will come and it is our job as a church to prepare for His coming. He is telling us that those who do not believe will be separated from those who do. He is telling us that tough times are ahead and it will not be popular to be a Latter-day Saint.
These are prophecies about our times, as certain as Abinadi’s prophecies were to his people. If the Lord sat down with us for a private audience and told us something about the future we needed to know, we’d listen. He has told us that whether by His word or the words of His servants the prophets, it is the same.”
Limhi’s people went to war more times against their Lamanite taskmasters, until they were finally humbled.
“And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.
“And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage” (Mosiah 21: 14,15).
The Lord was slow to hear their cries, because for too long they had refused to hear him. They could have had so much more if they had been willing to be humble without being forced to be humble.
Finally, when Ammon comes, Limhi’s people are taught the gospel, repent, and are at last delivered from bondage by getting the Lamanites drunk and sneaking out the back way.
Oh, but our story has twists and turns. Let’s go back to the people of Alma to see the irony.
We learn in Mosiah chapters 23 and 24, that when Alma and his people evaded King Noah’s army and left the waters of Mormon, they went to a land they called Helam. They continued to be these devoted disciples of Christ, work hard, prosper and begin to build a city. Alma shepherds them, watching over his people and nourishing them “with things pertaining to righteousness.” (Mosiah 23:18).
Now comes what Elder Neal A. Maxwell called “a most wintry verse: “Nevertheless, the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea he trieth their patience and their faith” (Mosiah 23:21).
What happens is so ironic. You would think a people like this, so devoted, would be protected from a Lamanite army, but it is the very Lamanite army that followed Limhi’s escaped people, who got lost in the wilderness and happened upon Alma’s people!
What’s worse is that this Lamanite army has come upon the priests of king Noah who stole their daughters. Though these priests were unscrupulous, they must have been charismatic for they had won the hearts of these Lamanite daughters, who, in turn, pled with the Lamanites that they not destroy their husbands.
The Lamanites agreed and the priests were traveling with the Lamanites when they happened upon Helam. If this were a movie, you’d be shouting, “Oh no. How can this be?”
And there’s something more, making it still worse. The leader of the priests is a man named Amulon and the Lamanites put him in charge. Not only does he “exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute them” (Mosiah 24:8), but he has a special grudge against Alma.
“For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him…yet he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them” (Mosiah 24:9).
Irony, upon irony. Wouldn’t you about this time be thinking, “Hey we’re the good guys. We have sought to live impeccable, covenant lives. Why us?”
We are chastened because no matter how good we are, the Lord is making more of us, even at the cost of our dashed expectations. We are not finished products, nor can we abide His presence until we are like Him in nature, in inclination, in love, in endurance. They were being asked to be “righteous in the dark”.
Elder Maxwell talked about chastening from the Lord, which seems to be more difficult when it involves irony. “Irony is the hard crust on the bread of adversity. Irony can try both our faith and our patience. Irony can be a particularly bitter form of such chastening because it involves disturbing incongruity. It involves outcomes in violation of our expectations. We see the best laid plans laid waste…
“Irony may involve not only unexpected suffering but also undeserved suffering. We feel we deserved better, and yet we fared worse. We had other plans, even commendable plans.”
Yet, Elder Maxwell points out, even the best among us, Jesus, experienced irony and stands as our example when we thought we deserved better. He said,
“At the end, meek and lowly Jesus partook of the most bitter cup without becoming the least bitter. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 19:18–19.) The Most Innocent suffered the most. Yet the King of Kings did not break, even when some of His subjects did unto Him “as they listed.” (D&C 49:6.) Christ’s capacity to endure such irony was truly remarkable.
“You and I are so much more brittle. For instance, we forget that, by their very nature, tests are unfair.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Irony: the Crust on the Bread of Adversity” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1989/04/irony-the-crust-on-the-bread-of-adversity?lang=eng
Elder Maxwell said, “How can we truly acknowledge the Fatherhood of God and refuse His tutorials? Especially in view of the fact the Lord even chastens those whom He loves?” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Willing to Submit” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1985/04/willing-to-submit?lang=eng
With Alma’s people “so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God. And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death” (Mosiah 24:11).
“And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage”
“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24: 12,13, 15).
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did astrengthen them that they could bear up their bburdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with cpatience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24: 16).
I cherish this verse because I have known it. I have known what it is to have everything be difficult around me, and yet feel a certainty and light inside of me. I have known what it is to have whirlwinds and grief around me and have this assurance inside that all is well.
There is a song that is sung in many Christian churches called “It is Well with My Soul.” The first verse goes like this and then continues in equally beautiful poetry.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll:
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
It is the story behind the creation of this song that makes it more poignant and explores this contradiction. Sorrows roll and it is still “well with my soul?” How can this be? This is an answer I want, an answer we all want who mourn or are burdened.
Horatio Spafford, a prosperous lawyer and devout Presbyterian Church elder who was active in the abolitionist crusade and other significant reform movements, wrote this song. What he did was to go about doing good, but it did not always look from the surface that that good was returned to him.
In 1871, Chicago was decimated by roaring flames that leaped 100 feet high and ate through the city, turning 2,000 acres to ash. Horatio lost most of his business and real estate holdings in the fire.
A freakish wind whipped the fire into masses of over-heated air that began spinning violently upon contact with the cooler air so that one witness said, it “drove the flames before it with a force and fierceness which could never be described or imagined.”
In the end $200 million worth of property was destroyed, 300 lives were lost and 100,000 people—one third of the city’s population—were left homeless. Horatio, with his business decimated, certainly knew what it was to have his life stained with ash.
Two years later in 1873, still shaken with their challenges, Horatio sent his wife, Anna and their four daughters to Europe on a ship hoping they could renew and rest from their worries. At the last minute Horatio was detained by business and the girls went ahead, sailing on the ocean liner S.S. Ville du Havre.
This name may not ring in our minds like the Titanic, but what happened was a maritime disaster of enormous proportions. The ship was hit by the British iron sailing ship Lochearn and within 12 minutes on November 2, 1871 sunk into the watery depths of the Atlantic, killing 266 passengers, including all of the Spaffords daughters, Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta.
Unconscious and floating on a plank of wood, Anna was picked up by the crew of the Lochhearn. Nine days later, Anna landed in Cardiff Wales and cabled Horatio, “Saved alone. What shall I do?”
Could there be a more plaintive message? Of course, Horatio, immediately left Chicago to sail to Europe to bring his stricken wife home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain called him into his office to tell him that they were just going over the spot where his four daughters perished.
He wrote, “On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs.”
Elder Maxwell said, Jesus has told us “to be of good cheer…when the stressful circumstances in which [we] found [ourselves] were anything but cheerful. For instance, He told the original Twelve to be of good cheer when, on the surface, there was nothing to be cheerful about. (John 16:33). The indescribable agonies of Gethsemane were imminent…
“It was the same on another occasion when, of a night, the resurrected Jesus stood by an imprisoned Paul, instructing Paul to be of good cheer. (Acts 23:11). Once again, the circumstances of the moment included Paul’s having been struck publicly on the mouth by order of Ananias. Forty individuals were plotting his death. He faced a trial for sedition. Why, therefore, should he be of good cheer?” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Be of Good Cheer”, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1982/10/be-of-good-cheer?lang=eng
Because Christ has overcome the world. We can bear up our burdens with ease and submit cheerfully to the difficulties of life, when we have His sturdy light inside us.
Of this we bear firm testimony from our own experience. That’s all for today. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins who produces the show. Next week we will be studying, Mosiah 25-28 “They were Called the People of God.” Until then, be safe, and see you then.