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A little while back, we talked about how the Saints were called to move to Ohio. This call came as a surprise to many, and I can only imagine how difficult it may have been to follow. But many faithful members did just that. One group of Saints who made the sacrifice to abandon home and comfort to follow the prophet were known as the Colesville Saints. I think we, as modern day Saints, often fail to fully grasp what these people did.
Imagine being called to leave your home tomorrow. You’re headed to an underdeveloped area. There will be no government welfare to fall back on. You have to plant your own food or you die. You don’t know where you’ll stay or how you’ll accomplish surviving winter, but you follow the prophet.
These Colesville Saints did just that, and we’ve talked about what it means to make those kinds of sacrifices. However, their story does not end at that sacrifice. The Colesville Saints arrived in Ohio where they were promised land that originally belonged to Leman Copely. Shortly after arriving, Leman Copely breaks his covenants and the Colesville Saints are expelled from the land.
The Lord then instructs Joseph to send the Colesville Saints on to Missouri. In case you’re wondering, that’s a journey of 800 miles. And then after travelling this 800 miles, you get to find work in any way you possibly can in order to help your family. Having left your comfortable home in New York, getting expelled from what was supposed to be your home, travelling 800 more miles is daunting enough without taking in all the unknowns that await you when you actually arrive in Missouri.
Here are the Lord’s words.
Doctrine and Covenants 54:8-10
8 And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.
9 And after you have done journeying, behold, I say unto you, seek ye a living like unto men, until I prepare a place for you.
So go to Missouri. Seek a living. Be patient in tribulation.
That’s it. That’s the guidance you get for this 800 mile journey into the unknown. I find this almost humorous because I remember being frustrated about not knowing which degree I should pick, and I felt like the Lord wasn’t giving me much to go off of.
I want to focus on the phrase, “…patient in tribulation…”
What is patience?
I love Preach My Gospel because it gives the most succinct blurbs on things.
Preach My Gospel teaches a lot of things about patience, but I want to talk about the following portion.
“Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious.”
I don’t think I could begin to describe the anxiety I would have felt over being called to move to Missouri.
Anyway. Let’s break down this definition for a bit.
When I think of the word “capacity,” I often picture a big cavern of sorts that can hold things. So when it comes to patience, this big cavern holds your endurance to stand against tribulation. Fun fact. The only way to really expand your cavern of patience is to practice. This means experiencing delay, trouble, opposition, and suffering.
Another little visual I get when I think of patience is that of a rope. Heavenly Father places us on this dangling rope, and we just have to keep holding on and getting stronger until we get breaks in between. Each time He places us on this rope, He lets us hold on a little bit longer so that we can keep practicing and growing those muscles.
These Colesville Saints were placed in positions where they experienced difficulty, and they got to practice feeling happy in the midst of difficulty.
An Accurate Vision of Patience
I want to zoom out now from patience and the Colesville Saints to look at the Plan of Salvation. I do this because I want to better appreciate patience in the eternal perspective. I believe that sometimes we start to think that patience is simply meant to help us survive this life until we can get to the other side where Heavenly Father will fix everything. This is only partially true, and I want to prove it by looking at the entire Plan of Salvation.
In my mind, the Plan of Salvation includes testing, but even more importantly, the Plan of Salvation was put in place so that we could become like Heavenly Father. The process of becoming Heavenly Father is a long one that extends beyond this earth life. It’s not about living the commandments as best we can, tallying up our good and subtracting the bad, getting to the other side and BAM Heavenly Father waves a wand and we’re like Him. No. Today is a day that you have the possibility of becoming more like Heavenly Father. Tomorrow is another chance. Good choices and bad choices are important to the extent that they help us become like Heavenly Father or cause us to fall farther away from His likeness.
To put it in more concrete terms, if you want to live the life of a CEO, you have to hustle like a CEO. I’m sure there are some people out there who are born to million dollar companies in the family that they will one day inherit regardless of performance. However, this is not the case with eternal life. Living like Heavenly Father is only possible by becoming like Heavenly Father. You could live the life of your Heavenly Father here on earth if you made choices that helped you progress to that point.
Stay with me; I promise to circle back around to patience.
So what does Heavenly Father’s life look like? When I was younger, I believe I pictured Heavenly Father’s life (and heaven, in general) to be picture perfect in the worldly sense. Everything was easy. There wasn’t pain anymore. We just get to be happy all the time. This is false doctrine.
Pain is an eternal principle and not just for those who choose a life different from Heavenly Father’s. Heavenly Father’s life is also filled with pain, and though it is a different pain than we experience, I actually believe it’s a more poignant pain. I believe that our Heavenly Father can feel pain more acutely because of who He is.
Think of it this way. Heavenly Father suffers when we suffer because of how much He adores us. Heavenly Father suffers when His children hurt each other because of how much He adores us. Heavenly Father especially suffered when He had to withdraw from His Beloved Son during the atonement. Heavenly Father still suffers.
What does this mean for us? It means that even if we become like our Heavenly Father and even if we come to live the life that He lives, we will still experience pain in the eternities.
What does this have to do with patience?
I want you to picture starting out on a weight lifting regime. At first, those 10 pound bicep curls are difficult and painful, but after you spend time training, you experience those 10 pounds differently. This parallels any Christlike attribute including patience. As we learn to put off anger, frustration, and anxiety during difficult circumstances, our capacity to endure builds. We experience the pain differently. We experience the pain more like our Heavenly Father experiences it. We experience it with hope, assurance, and perspective.
Patience, in my mind, is the ability to still feel happy in the midst of delay, trouble, opposition, and suffering. Heavenly Father lives through pain but all in all, He lives the happiest kind of life any being can possibly experience.
We practice patience here, not because we just need to ride out all of the suffering here until we get to the other side, but because we need to learn how to be calm and peaceful in the midst of trial. We need to be more like our Heavenly Father so that we can be more happy.
Pain is an eternal principle. Therefore, if we wish to be happy in the eternities, we need to become more like our Heavenly Father. We need to learn how to be happy (in a sense) in the midst of suffering just like our Heavenly Father.
Last note. There are some cases here on earth that are a little bit different. Disease of the mind can change how we experience life regardless of the state of our spirit. If you are someone who experiences mental illness, you may not feel very patient when your brain isn’t feeling healthy. Don’t let this message tear you down or make you feel like a happy life in the eternities is impossible for you. You will have the blessing of a resurrected, perfect body in the next life, and patience will become far easier to acquire.