Young adults from across Cache Valley came to listen to Elder Robert D. Hales speak at the 67th annual Joseph Smith Memorial Fireside, held in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on the campus of Utah State University campus on Sunday, Feb. 20.
The nearly 9,000 students in attendance heard Elder Hales teach them there are preparatory times in their lives that will make them ready for the challenges, tests and trials that are part of their earthly existence.
"It would be well for each us to ask ourselves, 'What am I doing now in my preparation for adulthood?' "
He said that Joseph Smith was prepared before the foundations of the earth to be the Prophet of the Restoration. Elder Hales went on to chronicle the events in world and religious history and talk about those who were put to death for daring to point out errors in the religious beliefs of the day.
"Because of great men and women who were willing to use their unique gifts and talents and make sacrifices for the benefit of mankind, Joseph was born in a free land where people were allowed to worship as they pleased. The Restoration took place when all was prepared here on earth," Elder Hales said.
The apostle reminded the students of different trials and challenges of the young prophet's life. At age 7, Joseph had a severe infection in his leg. The doctor wanted to amputate it. Joseph refused the operation, and the doctor opted for a procedure that would not be perfected until World War I, over 100 years later. Joseph would not be bound or drink brandy. He told the doctor if his father could hold him during the operation, he would be fine.
"This experience at a very young age helped to prepare Joseph for the endurance, patience and suffering that would be required of him for the rest of his life," he said.
The member of the Twelve said he has had his own personal experience with tenuous health and persistent pain from the time he was a baby and the experience has been a refining influence on the responsibilities that have come to him. He said the pain has brought him closer to the Spirit and has prepared him for the responsibilities that have come to him.
He spoke of the poverty that stalked the Smith family during Joseph's childhood that finally took them to Palmyra, N.Y.
"Though Joseph was only 11 when he family move to Palmyra, circumstance were preparing him for his role in the Restoration. Crop failure and physical hardship had strengthened him for what lay ahead," Elder Hales said.
He told the young adults in attendance that they are given tests in this life to teach and strengthen them for what lies ahead. He asked them what tests have they had that would prepare them for their future.
He said the First Vision taught that if individuals study the scriptures and pray in their time of need, they will receive answers to prayers as Joseph did.
"The trials Joseph faced in Palmyra were not meant to destroy him, but to strengthen him. Like Job, when faced with trials, Joseph sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. The same principle applies to you and me," he said.
From his experiences with Angel Moroni to the end of his life, each hardship tempered Joseph for the exemplary life he led and helped him to become the great leader he was.
Elder Hales asked the members of the congregation to parallel the teachings and example of Joseph to their own experiences when going through the trials of life. He reminded them that, like Moroni, "Ye receive witness until the trial of your faith."
Elder Hales testified, "The work of the Prophet Joseph Smith is the Savior's work. In the Lord's service, the path is not always easy. It often requires sacrifices, and we will likely experience adversity. But in serving Him, we will discover His hand truly over us. …
"So it was with the Prophet Joseph Smith. So it will be with us."