As a public service announcement, I feel it is necessary to say that the letter that follows was not actually taken from anything Joseph ever said or had ever written.
You see, a few weeks ago, I had a close family member on the verge of quitting just about everything they were trying to accomplish. It was just too much to handle. In their mind, there was no point in going on.
And you know what? I understood them.
Life just beats us down sometimes. There are times when you really feel like “man, if life could even just give me lemons, at least I could do something with it. I’m getting nothing!”
So, in my effort to help them in their difficult situation, I had one thought occur.
Hence the “letter” that follows.
From Carthage Jail, sometime on June 26, 1844
I am unsure of what will take place in the next several days. Even the next several hours.
Our requests for a safer trial, at different locations, and in a different manner have been denied over and over again. “I have had a good deal of anxiety about my safety, which I never did before.” (Actual quote from a letter Joseph wrote in Carthage).
Surely, I came here like a lamb to the slaughter.
In these, probably my final moments, my thoughts are of you and of the future generations, and all that they may have to endure.
If anyone knows how hard life can be, I certainly do. I spent months in jail wondering why God would allow such dreadful things to not only happen to me, but more importantly, to His humble followers. I wondered where He was when we needed Him the most.
I can assure you, He was never closer.
Let me take you back to a lesson a learned a long time ago. In fact, it was one of the first lessons I can remember that had any sort of spiritual significance for me. It was during a time of great religious confusion.
As a 14-year-old boy, I felt extremely concerned about my religious welfare. But who was I to turn to? There were no answers among the preachers. No one seemed to have the “right” answers to any of my questions. How could God be an author of all this confusion?
As you know, I was inspired to ask the Lord for myself. It took time and effort to decide exactly how I was going to do it. If the promise in James was true, then I wanted to be sure I did everything I could to get it done right.
Indulge me as I take a little liberty to focus on a part of this story that usually is not the focus.
For the first time in my life, I felt I had begun on the path that I needed to go. I was inspired and felt assured that I was doing the right things.
You know the feeling. Often, we feel directed by God to places that we need to go.
What happened immediately following the opening of my prayer was not only unexpected, but it seemed to be opposite everything I had believed would happen.
I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me.
This feeling was new to me. Something, for some reason, wanted to destroy me.
Notice though the sequence of events.
The “power” didn’t go away when I first noticed it overcoming me. It didn’t go away when it bound my tongue so that I could not speak. It didn’t even go away when thick darkness gathered around me, and it just seemed to me that I was doomed to sudden destruction.
All of those were terrible, terrible experiences. Yet, the power persisted.
Finally, exerting every last possible ounce of effort I had, right at the moment I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction to an actual evil being, I called upon God. I begged Him to help free me from such an evil influence.
It was in this exact moment, that I saw a pillar of light. I was delivered from the enemy which held me bound.
While the message that came following that experience would certainly have eternal consequences for all of God’s children . . . I wish to reflect for a moment on a message that will certainly have consequences for your lives right now.
Part of this life is the necessity of going through seemingly impossible trials.
If there’s one thing I know, almost more surely than anything else, it’s that everyone on this earth has their own burdens to bear. And almost certainly, all of us sometimes feel crushed by the weight that we may be carrying on our backs.
But I’m telling you, don’t you quit!
Often the problems and stress won’t go away when we first notice that they are overtaking us. We’ll feel their weight, we’ll feel trodden down. We may sense that destruction is lurking just around the corner.
It may even get to the point when we are bound. When we have no way forward, no way to speak, and no way out. We are held completely hostage by stress and hardships that are trying to overtake us.
And the worst part still, is that even then, the problems may not go away.
However, I stand as a witness to you, that there is a light that will carry us out of the problems that hold us bound.
It will most likely come in the exact moment that we are ready to succumb, give up, and accept our impending fate. When there is no other alternative. When the only way is to accept that our destruction is assured.
It is in these moments that our pleas to God are more important than ever before.
Exert every last ounce of energy, every little bit of effort that you have, and I can assure you that God will be there in a blazing pillar of light to lift us out of these moments in which we feel so hopelessly bound.
Don’t you ever give up. Don’t you ever stop begging God.
I don’t know exactly why often, it is in the very moment of destruction that God decides to send the ever-needed help.
I do know that everything we experience is for our own good.
Related: The Trials That Don’t Go Away
At the end of the day, we have a Savior on our side who knows exactly what we are going through. Even better, He descended below everything anyone has ever experienced
He willingly suffered to this extent and died so that He may know how to succor His people.
I bear witness to you that He lives. After everything I have seen, after everything I have experienced, and most importantly after all the temptations, trials, and tragedies that have held me bound, the last thing I wish to proclaim is that HE LIVES!
This is the sacred message that Satan tried so desperately to prevent God from restoring to the world on that spring day in 1820.
There is hope. There is life. There is salvation through the Great Redeemer.
His help will always come in the way, and in the moment that we need it most.
So, to those who may feel bound, who may feel like there is no way forward, and no way out, I beg you . . . keep going. You are so near the relief that you have been searching for.
God has miracles and blessings aplenty waiting for you on the other side. He hears your cries. He hears your pleas. And I promise you that He will come down to you in a pillar of light that will shatter anything and everything that will keep you from following His Son back to your heavenly home.
I am unsure of how much longer I may be here. But let my life and my blood stand as a testament that God lives and He loves. He sent His Son to descend below all things so that we can be lifted up above all things.
It is my wish that all of you may ever beg God for the mercy, love, and relief that each and every one of you are worthy of, regardless of your circumstance.
Until we shall meet again,
Joseph Smith Jr. (probably)