Cover image:  Jesus at the Wedding Feast via Gospel Media Library.

When I was a child, many of my favorite scripture stories involved dramatic miracles like those that Moses performed, stories that would excite my imagination and fill me with wonder. Whether it was the parting of the Red Sea,1 feeding of the 5,000,2 the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar,3 or the protection granted to the stripling warriors,4 I knew from a young age that nothing was impossible with the Lord’s aid. I saw myself as inheriting the miracles of Adam, Moses, Elijah, Peter, John, Joseph, Wilford, and all the other Saints throughout time.

And then I got a little older.

I began to find myself drowning in the endless deluge of destruction and mires of misery that make up most of our news. Intolerance, starvation, tragedy, and sin played out on the world stage with all of us as an audience captive. Soon the world began to take its toll on my life as well. Like trying to stand in shifting sands with ocean waves bearing down, I looked for the miraculous lifelines I had read about so many times as a youth.

Through spiritual witness, I knew that God existed and that the Book of Mormon contained the truth the world needed, so where were the miracles? I was swiftly growing weary and a little confused. I knew that “it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.”5 I had faith, so what was I doing wrong?

Quiet Stirrings

Through further study and prayer, I began to understand something my younger self was blind to when growing up: I had ignored the counsel of the Lord, who cautioned Samuel to “look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; . . . for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”6 I was so caught up in the visual appearance, the spectacle of the dramatic miracles that I failed to remember that the Lord is most concerned with the quiet stirrings of our spirits.

Many of the greatest miracles throughout the scriptures follow this quiet pattern. Look, for example, at the experiences of Nephi and Lehi amongst the Lamanites. Though they were encircled by fire, and the walls of their jail threatened to topple, the real power of God was manifest in a voice the Lamanites heard: “And [they] beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.”7

Small, still, mild—like the little babe in a manger whose miraculous birth was welcomed by his mother, earthly father, and a handful of shepherds. How calm and silent that night must have been, introducing the greatest miracle yet to come.

Joseph and Mary hold the baby Jesus on the night of His birth.

Wilford Woodruff was no stranger to miracles both loud and quiet. In an autobiography published in 1858, he related:

I have broken both legs—one in two places—both arms, my breast bone and three ribs, and had both ankles dislocated. I have been drowned, frozen, scalded, and bit by a mad dog—have been in water wheels under full head of water—have passed through several severe fits of sickness, and encountered poison in its worst forms—have landed in a pile of railroad ruins—have barely been missed by the passing bullet, and have passed through a score of other hair-breadth escapes. It has appeared miraculous to me, that with all the injuries and broken bones which I have had, I have not a lame limb, but have been enabled to endure the hardest labor, exposures and journeys.8

Wilford Woodruff also understood the immense power of quiet miracles, like that of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Reflecting on his mission experiences, he wrote, “The whole History of this Herefordshire Mission shows us the importance of carefully listening to the still small voice of the spirit of God, to listen to the revelations of the Holy Ghost. The Lord had a people there prepared for the Gospel, they were praying for light and truth, the Lord sent me to them, I declared the Gospel of Life and Salvation unto them, and some eighteen hundred souls received it and many of them have been gathered to Zion in these Mountains.”9 The scriptures and Wilford’s experiences are evidence of three such quiet miracles promised by the Lord in the early days of His ministry.

The Miracle of Baptism: John 2–4

“How can these things be?”10 Such was the shock expressed by Nicodemus upon learning that we must be baptized and born of the Spirit, thereby beginning a new life cleansed from sin. At first glance this interjection may sound like skepticism, but that doesn’t fit with Nicodemus’s actions. His meeting with Jesus indicates a mind ready to learn, and just a few years later he would help bury Christ’s mortal body.11 Perhaps then we can understand his outburst as one of hesitant hope.

Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal, “Baptism is a sign to God, to Angels to heaven, that we do the will of God, and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to God, and any other source is in vain.”12

Young Man Being Baptized, by Hyun-Gyu Lee

The ordinance of baptism, with the accompanying gift of the Holy Ghost, stands then as “the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered.”13 Through that channel we are made clean, new creatures on a new path in life. Through repentance and baptism, we can truly leave the natural man behind.

I echo President Woodruff in saying that “I am convinced of the mode of baptism, and believe it to be essential to my prosperity and happiness.”14 That is what is so miraculous about baptism. No matter our lives, no matter how much spiritual baggage we’ve accumulated, we get a second chance. By being born again, we get to live again, thriving according to the highest principles God has provided. By demonstrating our faith through this ordinance, we unlock all of the blessings of heaven that flow from the covenant path.

It is remarkable that this teaching came right after the wedding feast in Cana, for just as Christ can turn simple water into the best wine, following Him and being baptized opens the way for our celestial potential to eventually be achieved.15

The Miracle of Happiness: Matthew 5; Luke 6 

Ask anyone how to find happiness and you may never get the same answer twice. Some might say family, while others will say solitude. A few will encourage seeking pleasure while others advocate for overcoming challenges. Occasionally you’ll find those that claim that happiness is a myth, a fleeting feeling that simply comes from chemicals. And finally, others will question why we should even strive for happiness when so much of the world remains broken.

Yet that is not what the Savior taught. “Rejoice,” He told his followers, “and be exceeding glad”16—even when it seems the whole world is against you. How can we achieve this miracle of happiness in our modern-day morass? Wilford Woodruff put it simply in 1857: “I told the people to seek for happiness by doing the works of righteousness and not seek for happiness by doing evil, for that was contrary to the principle of Salvation as taught by the Lord our God. I exhorted them to live their religion.”17

Wilford Woodruff March 8, 1849

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly exhorted His disciples to act, reinforcing the idea that happiness is a choice. “For God maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Our happiness then has little to do with the circumstances we find ourselves in, for we can’t predict what tomorrow will bring.18 “To seek for happiness” and “to live [our] religion,” as Wilford Woodruff taught, is to actively follow the precepts and commandments given in the gospel. Wilford once recorded Brigham Young’s teaching that “the gospel of Jesus Christ is to make good men better and to put them in a position to receive Happiness.”19

Every time we align our will with God’s, our hearts and our minds are in a position to receive truth, light, and an assurance that we are following the correct path. This heavenly promise of good things to come provides a miraculous feeling of happiness that can’t be taken away by the world. It “is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”20

The Miracle of “Enough”: Matthew 6–7

At times we may feel fear or trepidation at following the promptings of the Lord. We might ask how much we’ll sacrifice and wonder if it’s worth it. We may feel a great desire to go and do, but we may also wonder how we can have enough money, time, or other resources to take care of ourselves if we dedicate our lives to serving God.

Wilford Woodruff described how as a young convert he “had a great desire to preach the Gospel.”21 Eventually called to travel and labor in the Southern States, he recorded, “I felt strenuous to keep the commandments, so I started without money . . . I took my valise in hand, weighing 15 lbs., mostly Books of Mormon, and started in company with Elder Harry Brown, crossed the river into Jackson county, and felt thankful.”22

What followed was a journey of hardship, persecution, and close calls. In his recollections, however, are tender mercies that bolstered his spirits and kept him going. One night, he wrote, “We lay down upon the floor [of a house], and we were glad of this place, as it soon began to rain, and rained through the night. In the morning we arose, and went on in the rain twelve miles, to a Mr. Conner’s, who was also in the Jackson county mob. He gave us breakfast, but damned us while we were eating, because we were ‘Mormons.’ . . . We felt thankful for breakfast, for we had walked seventy-two miles without eating food.”23

1857 Autobiography

I recognized Wilford’s gratitude in my own experiences throughout my life whenever I’ve chosen to follow Christ. For example, as a young college student, it is easy to see tithing as just another expenditure that takes away from having fun; I also know that I could earn more or get ahead in my classes if I choose to work on the Sabbath. Yet no matter how little I’ve had in my bank account or how much homework sits on my desk, I’ve always had enough.

“Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”24 He has always given me enough food, enough money for rent, and enough time for my work as I’ve managed my time and resources according to gospel principles. I know that as I pursue righteous objectives, the Lord will bless me with the miracle of having enough to do His will.

Quiet Miracles

Writing to his brother Asahel, Wilford offered this hopeful observation: “The sick have been healed and speaking and interpreting other tongues are common, but thanks be to God if the Church continues to go from grace to grace and from faith to faith. It will soon lack no good gift, and as the Lord is the same in time and in eternity, yesterday, to day, and forever, if we as saints are pure before him, what Enoch saw we can see, what Moses did we can do, what Peter had we can have, what the saints endured we can endure, and what the righteous receive we shall receive.”25

Among these great and wonderful miracles, we will discover a greater number of quiet miracles that continually bless our lives. We will see the glory of God in all the details of our lives like Enoch did. We will part emotional, financial, and spiritual seas like Moses parted a physical one. We will be able to endure persecution like Peter and the early Church did. Our lives will become a light to the world, and perhaps we ourselves might be a quiet miracle to those in need.

Christian Decker is the Archivist for the Wilford Woodruff Papers. Recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in History and a Minor in Anthropology from Brigham Young University, Christian is incredibly passionate about the power of stories in our everyday lives. He believes that history should be made available to the public, inspiring them on both a societal and personal level. He is completing a Master’s in Public History from Duquesne University to continue pursuing his passion. From preserving the stories of military veterans to promoting interfaith dialogue, Christian has made history his life’s work. He is incredibly grateful to be a part of the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project, and is eager to further its goals of bringing President Woodruff’s records to life.

Be inspired by the words of Wilford Woodruff in person at the upcoming Building Latter-day Faith Conference on March 4, 2023 at BYU. To register or learn more about the conference, visit

To learn more about the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project and study records from Church history that were not accessible until now, visit Please join us in this effort by contributing your time as a volunteer or your financial resources to support the transcription and research teams. For details visit



Some original text has been edited for clarity and readability.

1 Exodus 14:13–14, 21–22.

2 Mark 6.

3 Daniel 3.

4 Alma 56.

5 Moroni 7:37.

6 1 Samuel 16:7.

7 Helaman 5:30

8 “Autobiography 1858 Deseret News,” July 7, 1858, p. 6, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

9 “Autobiography Leaves from my Journal 1838-1840 Notes,” p. 41, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

10 John 3:9.

11 John 19:38–40.

12 Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, March 20, 1842, p. 141, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

13 “Book of Revelations 1838-1842,” p. 29, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

14 “Letter to George Phippen,” circa January 1831, p. 3, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

15 John 2.

16 Matthew 5:12.

17 Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, January 18, 1857, p. 196, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

18 Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, November 2016,

19 Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, December 24, 1861, p. 169, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

20 Luke 6:48.

21 “Autobiography 1865 Millennial Star,” p. 4, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

22 “Autobiography 1865 Millennial Star,” p. 1, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

23 “Autobiography 1865 Millennial Star,” p. 9, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,

24 Matthew 6:32.

25 “Letter to Asahel H. Woodruff,” December 11, 1835, p. 4, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,