Hope in God's Plan


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Like many of you, my life has had lots of ups and downs.  We've had illnesses, layoffs, bad decisions, etc. that brought us into trials and unpleasant situations.  Several years ago, I was reading about Joseph Smith's early life and something really struck me.  Maybe it will be of help to someone who is currently undergoing trials right now.

Joseph Smith's father, Joseph Smith, Senior, was a farmer in Vermont.  His only ambition was to be a simple farmer and provide for his family.  He was a man of meager means.  He struggled to pay for land and raise a crop.  Two years prior to 1816, Joseph Senior had experienced crop failures.  The weather in Vermont wasn't cooperating.  Trying to make payments on land was a challenge.  Then, 1816 came.  That was known in history as the "Year Without a Summer."  In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted.  The volcano threw so much ash into the atmosphere that it changed weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere.  In the summer of 1816, it snowed in Vermont.

Father Smith sold the property (or had his land repossessed--it doesn't say which) and went down to Palmyra in New York to look for a place to start fresh.  We've all heard the stories about young Joseph's leg surgery, which happened in 1815.  Joseph Senior had to leave his family behind and, once he found a property, he sent a hired man to pick them up and bring them to Palmyra.  The unpleasant fellow made Joseph Junior hobble along from Vermont to New York on the bad leg.  

If you've been to the Smiith Farm in Palmyra, which has historical reproductions of the original cabin and the frame home in which the family lived, you'll see evidence of a time of prosperity.  The family began to prosper, but we learn that an unscrupulous lender swindled the nice frame house from the Smith family just as the sons finished building it for them.  It seems that bad financial luck followed the Smith family.

Again, I reiterate that all Father Smith wanted was to be a farmer.  That was the extent of his ambitions.  We know in hindsight, the Lord had different plans.  

Would Joseph Senior have moved from Vermont to New York if his farm had been successful?  Did God tell him that he needed to move his family there so his youngest son would be near some ancient gold plates buried near the town of Palmyra?  The Lord didn't tell him anything.  Instead, he let failure and pain be the impetus to get him to move to New York.  Likewise, had finances gone well at the Palmyra farm, how would things have gone when it came time to uproot and move to Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo?  

The Lord used hardships to direct Joseph Smith, Senior to his foreordained role--to become the first patriarch of this dispensation.  He was called to be a prophet in his own right, to declare the lineage of the saints and bless them.  Would that have ever come to pass if he had been a success at farming?

Trials and hardships are never enjoyable.  However, we should look at them and ask, "Is the Lord directing me to a new path?"  Some trials are meant to be endured well.  Others are meant to cause us to act.  When we act, the Lord may be directing us onto a new path.  In that case, rest assured that he has you in the "palm of his hand."  He will not let you fail in any eternally important way.  He has placed a frame around you and the limits will not exceed his designs.  God has a plan.  Trust in him.  Remember Joseph Smith, Senior--the aspiring farmer who became the Patriarch of the Church in the latter-days.


Edited by spamlds
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I have read one source that claims the Smiths lost their farm as a result of an investment of Joseph's that should have paid off but didn't (dishonest partner stole the profits), resulting in them selling their farm to settle their debt, and another source that claims that Lucy used the final payment on their farm to throw a party, then couldn't get the money back in time, resulting in foreclosure. Don't know if either of these stories hold water, but they serve to illustrate that even when our own foibles, failures, and foolishness cause setbacks, they can be turned to our ultimate good.

Note that the Smith family never did fully financially recover from the loss of the Vermont farm. That wasn't their calling.

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There are many stories of people who suffered setback after setback and then had that one great event or product, etc., that placed them on the map of history one way or another.

Charles Dickens.  John James Audubon.  Edgar Poe.

There are also "golden boys", those that have nothing but success all their lives.  It seems like everything they touch turns to gold.  I think they are rare, tho', and who knows what it's really like under the surface that we see.


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