How Wilford Woodruff Survived 1846

by Cory Clay

2020 was a difficult year for the world. 

1846 was a difficult year for the Church.

The Saints had been forced out of Nauvoo, and Wilford Woodruff was facing a crisis himself; he had lost two of his sons in an accident while his family was in Winter Quarters. And Winter Quarters was no summer getaway, as many Church members came with little to no goods or earthly possessions, having left all behind to the mobs that had violently forced them out of their homes. Additionally, Wilford had the responsibility of leading a large company of Saints to the Rocky Mountains. To say that he was in desperate need of strength would be an understatement.

It was at this time that he reached into the scriptures and found in Isaiah a reminder: “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:2–3). 

He realized that he was a part of the fulfillment of prophecy, and knowing this gave him strength to continue forward to the Salt Lake Valley, where he would directly take part in the fulfillment of that prophecy by bringing people to the valley and helping to build the temple. We can find the same strength Wilford had as members of the “dispensation of the fulness of times'' (Ephesians 1:10). We can know that God is greater than our fears and weaknesses and that He has a vision for our lives. God saw in Wilford something greater than his present circumstances, and it is the same for each of us.1 Wilford survived 1846, we survived 2020, and we can survive whatever comes our way.