"I see a thread of faith, a particular faith, running in the lives of those heroes of the Restoration whose steadfastness and courage leave us in awe. Perhaps if we examine that thread today, we may find it in our own lives and strengthen it.
"Those histories reveal as much about faith from what people did as from what they declared in words. Different as were their challenges and their responses, I thought I saw a recurring pattern. Here it is.
"They shared a faith that the kingdom of God had been established for the last time, that it would triumph over great opposition and would become glorious in preparation for the day when the Savior would come to accept it, that it would stand forever, and that theirs was a rare privilege to have been called out of the world to build it.
"They were sure that they were establishing Zion, a place of refuge. It is not surprising then that they plead for that Zion and that they expected not only to build it but to enjoy living in it. What is surprising is that their faith increased when they pleaded for Zion to be established even as they saw times of safety turn to times of testing....
"It seems to me that was true because their faith was based on an understanding of why God allows us to pass into such close places and how he delivers us. The 'how' springs from the 'why.' The why is that our loving Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, wish for us to be sanctified that we may have eternal life with them. That requires our being cleansed through faith in Jesus Christ, repenting because of that faith, and proving ourselves faithful to the covenants they offer us only through their mortal servants in the kingdom of God. Knowing their loving purpose makes it easier to understand both why they allow trials and how they deliver us.
"They could make all the rough places smooth in building the kingdom and in our lives. They allow trials to come even when we are faithful because they love us....
"But for me, the greatest comfort comes from this one in D&C 95:1:
"'Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you.'
"I have come to understand that to try our faith is not simply to test it but to strengthen it, that the witness which comes after the testing strengthens that faith, and that God’s preparation includes in the plan for deliverance the timing that will best strengthen our faith."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Faith of Our Fathers," BYU Education Week Devotional, Aug 20, 1996
Click here to read the full talk
This was really a profound and moving address by President Eyring. Speaking to an eager audience at the BYU Campus Education week in 1996, he shared a number of experiences of his own pioneer ancestors to illustrate the common principles of faith and devotion that made their contributions and sacrifices so great. It was all based on the foundation of belief in the restoration of the gospel and the vision of the great work of the latter days. They felt that they were participating in that work, and that regardless of where or how they were asked to serve, their part would make a difference in the eventual destiny of God's kingdom on earth.
I think that's a powerful insight. When we understand that God is in charge, and if we truly believe he speaks through His authorized servants to help direct us in the labors of the last days, then we are not only willing, but eager to receive and follow through on that direction.
And moreover, we learn that in the process of acting in faith, we are also growing in faith. Our faith is strengthened as it is tested. Learning to understand, or at least to trust, God's timing is so critical for that process!