Think the early Church Saints are old news? Think again!
In Come, Follow Me this year, we’re studying the experiences of the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They may have used different tools, worn different clothes, and even spoken differently than we do in modern times, but there are still many things we can learn from their experiences recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants !
1. The Lord cares about every aspect of our lives
Records of early Church members prove that God is interested in all aspects of our lives. He cares about the things we care about — our families, livelihoods, and education.
One early Saint, Thomas B. Marsh, “had many afflictions because of [his] family.” 1 The Lord counseled him directly about how to lead his family and reassured Thomas that they would be blessed. 2
The Lord cares about our livelihoods as well! He told early missionaries that, if they were obedient, He would provide for their needs and help them succeed. 3
Today, just like 200 years ago, we can take our concerns to the Lord and He will help us! For example, Mohammed Bayoh, a BYU-Pathway student in Sierra Leone, prayed that he would be able to find a computer to use so that he could gain an education. The Lord answered his prayer with two senior missionaries, who welcomed him into their home to use their computer to participate in BYU-Pathway courses.
2. God wants us to gain knowledge
The Lord told the first members of His restored Church that anyone who was willing to put in the work could receive knowledge from Him. 4 He even instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to form a school for the elders of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, USA, which they called the “School of the Prophets.” They studied together to improve themselves and their lives, and we can too! Everyone is capable of higher education!
Early and present-day Saints can agree that learning takes work and can be challenging. In a BYU-Pathway devotional , Sister Sharon Eubank shared her teenage fears about receiving an education, saying she “would pray every morning for the confidence to just turn the classroom door knob and walk in and sit down.” 5 If Heavenly Father cared about her ability to enter a classroom, He cares about the details of our paths to education as well.
The path may be frightening, but any knowledge we gain — temporal or spiritual — will benefit us through the eternities! 6
3. We can overcome challenges with the Lord
With God’s help we can do more than just suffer through our challenges; we can experience growth, peace, and joy because of them! Our problems may not disappear, but we can learn and grow from our own difficult journeys.
Early members of the Church faced significant challenges but were willing to endure them with joy. When Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, he received a letter from his wife, Emma. She said she had only been able to endure so much because of help from the Lord. She added, “I still live and am yet willing to suffer more if it is the will of kind Heaven.” 7 After all the trials she and her family had faced, Emma was confident she could do anything with Heaven’s help, and she still referred to Heaven as kind.
Before she enrolled in BYU-Pathway, Makenzie Baker was in a dark place — she didn’t know what she was meant to do with her life and was scared of higher education. The Lord eventually led her to BYU-Pathway, where she was able to improve her life by learning new skills and sharing and strengthening her testimony. Like Emma Smith, she endured her challenges with the Lord on her side and grew because of them. The Lord provided a way for her.
Many things today are different than they were in the 1800s, but God is not one of them! He believed in the early Saints and helped them to gain knowledge and overcome trials, and He will do the same for us as we rely on Him.
Doctrine and Covenants 31:2
2 ^ See Doctrine and Covenants 31
3 ^ See Doctrine and Covenants 118:3
4 ^ See Doctrine and Covenants 11:27
5 ^ Sharon Eubank, “ Rejected, Rescued, and Redeemed ” (BYU-Pathway Worldwide devotional, May 28, 2019), byupathway.org/speeches
6 ^ See Doctrine and Covenants 130:19
7 ^ “ October 18-24: Doctrine and Covenants 121–123 ,” Come, Follow Me — For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020), 182