Monday, October 6, 2008

Liberty Jail

I noticed over Conference Weekend that there were several references made to Liberty Jail and to what our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith, suffered while incarcerated there. Two of my favorite scriptural passages are a result of that trying time: D. & C. 121:7-8; and D. & C. 122:5, 7-9. I can't tell you how often I've drawn comfort from these inspired words.

Twice I've been given the wonderful opportunity to see the Liberty Jail Visitors' Center that now exists where the original jail was located. The first time was in 1997 as our family traveled with a couple of other families to see as much as we could of the LDS Church sites that spring. The second visit took place last year, exactly 10 years later. Both visits were a much-needed spiritual boost. Here's why:

All of us will endure difficult trials in our lives. Lately it seems like that process has been stepped up a few notches. It is comforting to realize that not only is this necessary for our spiritual refinement, but that we're never as alone as we sometimes think we are. When you visit a place like Liberty Jail, you come away with the feeling that no matter what we endure, it pales in comparison to what others have suffered. A sensation of hope fills your heart as you realize that God truly is in control and that all things will work toward our good, if we so choose. So much is hinged upon our attitude. If we follow Joseph's courageous example, we will endure our challenges with quiet dignity. We will keep faith and hope alive, comforting others despite what we are suffering. We will not dwell long upon our own pain, but will keep our focus upon a brighter future, never giving into black despair.

Joseph Smith suffered, learned, and grew through all he endured in Liberty Jail. This dark jail cell was cold, damp, and crowded---several of Joseph's closest associates were jailed with him: Hyrum Smith, Joseph's older brother, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, Alexander McRae, and Sidney Rigdon. They were kept within the confines of Liberty Jail from November of 1838 until April of 1839 on trumped up charges of treason and murder that were later proven to be lies.

The only light in this dungeon-like prison cell came through tiny slits that barely allowed sunlight to peek in at varying times during the day. There were moments when they were permitted to use candles, but for the most part, they were plunged into total darkness in this dank cell. Despite these horrific conditions, this sacred location is often referred to as the Prison Temple---a place where our prophet endured countless miseries, and yet received comfort and knowledge not available any other way.

I am grateful for the example of our Church leaders, past and present. If we will follow their counsel, we will survive all that lies ahead. The messages of hope we received this past weekend are greatly appreciated. I know that no matter what, things will come out right in the end. The future is not something to be feared, but something to be embraced as we heed the will of our Father, and remember the counsel given to Joseph: " . . . hold on thy way . . . thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever." (D. & C. 122:9)

Return to the Neighborhood


Rachelle said...

Great post and neat pictures, thanks for sharing!

Cheri J. Crane said...

You are very welcome, Rachelle. =) And thank you for the kind words.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I had the opportunity to visit the Liberty Jail as well as several other Church history sites when I was sixteen, and the experience cemented my testimony of the Prophet and the work of the Restoration. Thank you for this lovely blog.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Thank you for stopping by, Tristi. =)And I agree, visiting Liberty Jail is a life-changing experience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheri - Thanks for these wonderful comments. I don't know if you've seen or read Elder Holland's recent talk on this subject, but you may be interested in Lessons from Liberty Jail.