This past Sunday, I was asked to speak in church on the Restoration — a topic I was unsurprised to be assigned, as President Nelson has repeatedly reminded us to study it in preparation for our upcoming conference.
Yet despite my lack of astonishment over the assigned topic, I was still stumped on how to approach it: did I review the First Vision? Give an overview of the apostasy and the need for a restoration of the truth? Discuss the inspiring women of the Restoration?
The day before my talk arrived and I was panicked — I still hadn’t found a topic that felt right to me. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks (or so I assume, as I have yet to have someone throw a heap of bricks at me… #blessed): I needed to speak on the Restoration’s ongoing status and the implications that come with it.
The Great Pattern of the Restoration: Adversity
So what, exactly, does the term “ongoing Restoration” mean? While I’ll address that more fully in an upcoming post, the gist is this: there is still, as the ninth article of faith tells us, more truth to be revealed.
If the Restoration is an ongoing process rather than a finished event, surely we will continue to see patterns from the beginning of the Restoration in our lives today — and one of the most apparent and consistent patterns is that with increased revelation and spiritual enlightenment comes increased adversity.
Let me illustrate, first with some examples from church history, then from more recently.
We’re all familiar with the story of the First Vision, but sometimes we gloss over something imperative that happened immediately before it: Joseph’s encounter with the adversary. Before Joseph received a vision that would change the course of history — before he received such incredible enlightenment — Lucifer tried to stop it. Joseph wrote of the event:
“After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I wasupon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
But, exerting all my powers toupon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of exactly over my head, above the brightness of the , which descended gradually until it fell upon me.“
Satan tried to stop this marvelous event from happening. He didn’t want the world to receive more light and truth, so he did his best to put an end to it.
He does this all the time. In fact, only months before Joseph received the First Vision, someone — clearly prompted by the adversary — tried to assassinate Joseph for no apparent reason.
Later in his life, Jospeh would receive the incredible, soul-stirring words of comfort from Christ known to us as D&C 121 and 122. These words have comforted and soothed hundreds of thousands of souls since their delivery. Yet preceding this experience, Joseph received some of the most deplorable treatment of his life — surely Lucifer’s attempt to beat Joseph into submission and defeat.
The adversary will always try to stop wonderful things from happening, and certainly even more so when it comes to the Church’s growth. He knows it is the single most damaging thing to his goal of making everyone miserable and unable to return to the presence of God, and he will attempt to thwart it any way he can.
Just think of it: since President Nelson became the prophet two years ago, the Church has experienced dozens of considerable changes. We’re in the middle of a time of major enlightenment and growth! So is it really any surprise that Satan is trying to defame the Church more than ever before? That we’re experiencing more adversity?
Lately, the Church’s name has been tossed around negatively in the news. Headlines declaring (inaccurately) that the Church is pro-conversion therapy splashed across the United States. Shortly thereafter, the Church was in the news again for allegedly illegally hoarding tithing donations. (Spoiler alert: not true.)
It’s clear that just as he always has, the adversary is doing anything and everything he can to sully the Church’s name, typically through inaccuracies and sensationalism. Shocker.
Comfort in Consistency
The truth is that this pattern isn’t going to stop any time soon. The Church will probably be in the media more for supposed misbehavior. The world isn’t going to start liking us more.
And while that can feel a little scary, there’s something comforting about knowing that this is the pattern the adversary has always used, especially since the start of the Restoration. He tries to stop God’s plan and always fails. As more adversity comes, so does more revelation and enlightenment.
Basically, it all boils down to this: every time something bad happens — every time the Church’s name is smeared by the media — something great is coming. We’ve seen it more keenly in the past few years and we’re going to keep seeing it, because the adversary knows that every second that passes is one less second he has until the Lord returns again. He is absolutely desperate to ruin us and wreak havoc on the world. And that’s why this pattern of increased adversity won’t stop until it culminates in the greatest, most significant moment of illumination: the Second Coming of the Savior.
We’re in the middle of the Restoration. That means more truth is coming, so naturally, more adversity and opposition are coming too. And that’s okay because we know that no matter what attempts the adversary uses to thwart God’s work and glory, the Lord will always come out on top.
So buckle up — it’s going to be a crazy ride.