Monday, May 18, 2009

The Harsh Reality of Faith

I usually have difficulty in discussions of the pioneers. Not because I think their trials were not hard nor that their sacrifices were not great, but because we discuss them the same way every time, praising them with beautiful phrases such as "faith in every footstep" and almost worshiping them for their sacrifices.

Recently, as I read an account of Emma crossing the frozen Mississippi with her children, I realized something about faith in reflection of my own life. It isn't pretty. It isn't a matter of overcoming despite all odds, of courageously surmounting one's foes. It is about doing what has to be done because the alternative is so much worse.

I have tasted just a little of what Emma must have felt, gazing across the frozen river, children clinging to her skirts and hanging heavily in her arms. She looked upon a frightening, dangerous journey with little to no hope of warmth or deliverance at the end of it. She would not be rewarded for it, and wouldn't even be praised for it until long after it ceased to matter to her. But she took it because what lay behind her was worse.

Physical adversity has a way of boiling one's soul down to what is most important. Wondering how one's children will eat, facing the reality of their possible and immediate deaths, losing one's hard-earned home or one's cherished dreams allows a person to see what is most important. The pioneers joined the Church despite persecution, and crossed the plains despite likely death not because they were brave, but because, when all came down to it, they knew it was true. It did not matter what others said, it did not matter that they were able to gain enough support to kill the prophet. All their ridicule and power on this earth could not change what was true. The choice of the faithful was between facing that danger, and denying what they knew to be true.

In the end, there was no contest.


  1. "It is about doing what has to be done because the alternative is so much worse."

    Thank you for this post, SilverRain. This way of looking at the faith of the pioneers also explains why many of us today have problems following the admonitions of the living prophet.

    There are lots of reasons to take a supposedly "easier" path if we aren't sure of what is true.

    If we are sure, then, as you said, "[Faith]is about doing what has to be done because the alternative is so much worse."

    May your faith continue to sustain you as you deal with the frightening journey you are facing right now. And may you see at least glimpses of "hope of warmth or deliverance at the end of it."

  2. Profound insight that has immediate application in my own life. Thank you for sharing the truths you discover as you traverse your own hard journey.

    I hope you realize you are helping others maintain the faith and hope to cross their own frozen rivers. Your perseverance in the face of fierce difficulty inspires me to continue on in the face of my own.


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