"If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
"If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
- Doctrine and Covenants 122:5-7 -
For many years I have read that passage of scripture and thought, "if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee?" I felt bad for Joseph Smith when I used to read this. But then I realized something I had not noticed before. Although many of these did actually happen to Joseph and Hyrum and many other men, women and children in early Church history, not all of them did. That may not come off as important, but it brought a thought to my mind when I realized that.
When the Lord told Joseph these words, he was not saying, "All of these things are going to happen to you and afterward you will still be okay." But what I think he was telling the Prophet is, "No matter what happens, even if these worst-case scenarios come to life, you can know that I am still here and I will lift you up after the trials."
From the vision given to President Joseph F. Smith, son of Joseph's brother Hyrum, we know that these words give to the Prophet were true. God did raise him up after the trials. Joseph F. Smith recorded:
"These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father's kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life...
"The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in lying the foundations of the great latter-day work..."
- Doctrine and Covenants 138:51, 53 -
We see that Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the two martyred in Carthage, as well as Brigham, the man that led the pioneers, and other men who lived through these trials are now all promised the return into the kingdom of God.
Just a thought that came to me while reading these verses recently. I hope you get something good out of these words of comfort too.