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Lesson 17 Teacher Material: Remaining Faithful amid Opposition and Affliction
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“Lesson 17 Teacher Material: Remaining Faithful amid Opposition and Affliction,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)

“Lesson 17 Teacher Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material

Lesson 17 Teacher Material

Remaining Faithful amid Opposition and Affliction

During the period between 1837 to 1839, the Saints experienced a threatening spirit of apostasy in Kirtland, Ohio, and violent persecution in Missouri. This lesson will help students determine how they can turn to, trust in, and rely more fully on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in times of difficulty and opposition.

Suggestions for Teaching

Some members in Kirtland, Ohio, left the Church, while others remained faithful.

Begin class by asking students to describe how people they know have responded to difficult trials in their lives. You might also ask what they learn from such examples.

Invite students to ponder the trials they or their loved ones are currently experiencing and to consider what the Lord might teach them today about responding to such trials.

  • What are some of the challenges and trials the early Saints experienced in Ohio? (You might refer students to their preparation material to help them remember.) What can we learn from those affected by the trials in Ohio?

Remind students that in the summer of 1837, Thomas B. Marsh, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, traveled from Missouri to Kirtland to meet with members of that quorum and with the Prophet Joseph Smith.

  • What were some of the challenges and concerns Thomas B. Marsh faced before he arrived in Kirtland?

Explain that after Thomas B. Marsh and Joseph Smith met together and resolved their differences, the Prophet received a revelation from the Lord addressed to Thomas. Invite students to read or review Doctrine and Covenants 112:10–15 silently, looking for counsel and principles the Lord taught Thomas B. Marsh and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Invite students to share and discuss what they found.

If needed, help students identify and discuss a principle from verse 13 by asking some of the following questions:

  • What did the Lord promise He would do for those of the Twelve who chose not to harden their hearts when their faith was tested? (After students respond, display the following principle or write it on the board: If we do not harden our hearts when our faith is tested, the Lord will be with us and help deepen our conversion.)

  • How might some people harden their hearts when their faith is tested? What are the dangers of doing so?

  • When have you seen someone respond to a trial of faith with a soft heart and an open mind? What did you notice happening to the person as he or she responded this way?

The Prophet Joseph Smith was blessed for his faithfulness during his trials in Liberty Jail.

Display the following question: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Ask students if they have ever wondered about or been asked this question. Explain that Joseph Smith asked a similar question after being unjustly imprisoned in Liberty, Missouri. As students discuss Joseph’s experience, invite them to consider how they would answer if a friend asked them that question.

Display the following images of Liberty Jail:

Ask students to recount the events that led to Joseph Smith’s imprisonment in Liberty Jail. (If needed, direct students to review section 3 of the preparation material.)

  • What were conditions like for Joseph Smith and the others in Liberty Jail?

Remind students that the Prophet Joseph Smith spent over four months in Liberty Jail during the bitter cold of winter. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 121:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for questions the Prophet asked in this prayerful letter.

  • What do these questions reveal about what Joseph Smith might have been feeling at that time?

  • How might this time period have been a trial of Joseph’s faith?

Remind students that while in jail, Joseph Smith sent two letters to the Church. Divide students into small groups. Invite them to review or read Doctrine and Covenants 121:7–10; 122:7–9 and then share the phrases and principles that stood out to them.

After sufficient time, invite a few students to share a phrase or principle they discussed with their groups. Consider displaying these principles or phrases or writing them on the board. Some principles students identify could be expressed or summarized in the following ways: As we turn to the Lord and rely on Him during our trials, He will bless us with revelation, comfort, and encouragement. If we remain faithful, affliction and adversity can give us experience and be for our good.

  • How could the principles and phrases you identified help someone who is experiencing adversity or a trial of faith?

As part of your discussion, you might display the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and invite a student to read it aloud.

Jeffrey R. Holland

You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced. …

… The lessons of the winter of 1838–39 teach us that every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through that difficulty. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace. (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lessons from Liberty Jail,” Ensign, Sept. 2009, 28)

  • What do you think it means that trials can become “redemptive” experiences?

  • How can faithfully enduring the trials of life help us become more like our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ?

  • What are some ways you have turned to and relied more fully on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ during trials that tested your faith? What have you learned from doing so?

Invite students to share with a classmate how they would answer the question you displayed previously about why God allows bad things to happen to His children.

Then invite students to consider displaying words and phrases they selected from the scripture passages discussed earlier in places where they can see them often or to memorize them or share them on social media. Testify that as we turn to the Savior in our trials, He will give us peace, comfort us, and deepen our conversion.

For Next Time

As you end class, consider explaining that one of the largest women’s organizations in the world today, the Relief Society, was founded in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Let students know that as they prepare for the next class they will have the opportunity to learn more about how and why this worldwide organization was created. Encourage students to come prepared to share what they learned.