We Felt To Rejoice — Wilford W. Andersen

A Way of Life, Wilford W. Anderson

Years ago I visited Nauvoo, Illinois, with my family. There the early Saints had come seeking refuge. Many had lost their homes and their farms, and some had lost their loved ones to the growing persecution. In Nauvoo they gathered and built a new and beautiful city. But the persecution was relentless, and by 1846 they were once again forced to leave their homes—this time in the middle of winter. They lined up their wagons on Parley Street, awaiting their turn to cross the frozen waters of the Mississippi River into an unknown future.

As we stood on Parley Street reflecting upon their desperate conditions, my eyes were drawn to a series of wooden signs nailed to fence posts upon which were etched quotes from the diaries of these suffering Saints. As we read each quote, to our amazement what we found in their words was not desperation and discouragement but confidence and commitment and even joy. They were filled with hope, the hope that is reflected by this quote from the diary of Sarah DeArmon Rich, February 1846: “To start out on such a journey in the winter . . . would seem like walking into the jaws of death but we had faith . . . [and] we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come.”

These early Saints were indeed homeless, but they were not hopeless. Their hearts were broken, but their spirits were strong. They had learned a profound and important lesson. They had learned that hope, with its attendant blessings of peace and joy, does not depend upon circumstance. They had discovered that the true source of hope is faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His infinite Atonement, the one sure foundation upon which to build our lives.

From Wilford W. Andersen’s April 2010 General Conference Address, “The Rock of Our Redeemer.” Wilford W. Andersen is a member of the First Quorum of Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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