...The same morning, after Hyrum had made ready to go—shall it be said to the slaughter? yes, for so it was—he read the following paragraph, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it:At first all I could see was that statement at the very end, which Hyrum would have identified with strongly, knowing he would die soon—“And now I…bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.” I didn’t understand why John Taylor included the first part of it too. Why mention the prayer for Gentiles’ charity? Why the mention of seeing one’s own weakness and being made strong? In what way were they weak?
5 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I … bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force. (D&C 135:4-5)
Then, I started thinking about what Joseph & Hyrum may have been most worried about as they gave themselves up, feeling as they did that they were going to their deaths. If I had been in their place, I know I would have these kinds of thoughts going through my mind: How will it happen? Will they make me suffer for a long time or will they give me a quick merciful death? If they make me suffer for a long time, will I be able to bear it and not betray my testimony? I suppose if I were them I would be praying really hard for the Lord to soften the hearts of my enemies so that they’d give me a quick merciful death instead of a long, drawn-out painful death.
Then I read back through the words from the Book of Mormon that Hyrum found and I realized that those words were a perfect answer to those concerns that Joseph & Hyrum both must have had.
I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. – This was certainly Hyrum and Joseph’s prayer. They would pray to be murdered in the kindest way possible. (Wouldn’t you?)
If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee…-- This is a startling thing. Why doesn’t it matter to Joseph or Hyrum if other people are charitable to them or not?
thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean – What mattered was staying faithful so that they could stay clean. So it seems that being faithful and clean matters more than having people be nice to us.
And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. – The weakness that Hyrum seems to have recognized in himself was his fear of suffering and fear of being murdered. In this line of scripture, he must have derived great comfort. His recognition of his own weakness allowed the Lord to make him strong (through grace, or enabling power) enough that he could bear it, even to the point of death, when he would sit down in the mansions of the Father.
This then, is the great principle that we can apply in our lives—if we are faithful, we will be made clean, and then if we acknowledge our weakness at the prospect of suffering for our beliefs and our testimonies, the Lord will give us strength to endure whatever comes from others’ lack of charity toward us, even if it means we suffer death. Thus, even if others don’t show charity to us, we can be strengthened to bear it faithfully.
I find this very empowering. I have occasionally wondered if I could be faithful if I had to give my life for the truth. I really don’t like pain. Learning this has given me more confidence that Heavenly Father would get me through whatever I happen to face.
Note: Sorry about the lack of graphics on my blog. My graphics are linked to from Photobucket and it seems Photobucket is doing maintenance on their systems.