Phebe Woodruff's Faith, March 1838
by Hovan Lawton
By Hovan Lawton, Editorial Assistant
In early 1838, Phebe Woodruff and other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were passing through very challenging times. The collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society banking system had brought financial hardship to the Saints, causing some to turn against Joseph Smith and call him a fallen prophet. Just two years earlier, the Saints had unitedly celebrated the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. Kirtland had been a place of holiness where God could endow his people with power from on high. Now, it had become a place of “great division” and the faithful were counseled to abandon their city and temple, to “escape the destruction that is comeing upon [Kirtland].”
To Phebe Woodruff, it was deeply painful to see dear friends and fellow Saints (even longtime stalwarts like Martin Harris) turn against the Church she loved. In a March 1838 letter to Wilford, Phebe mournfully wrote:
O Willford what is this world comeing to. my heart almost
shrinks within me when I look around on the state of things.
Nevertheless, in the midst of this climate of doubt and division, Phebe refused to be shaken from her own firm faith in the Savior’s latter-day work. She declared:
I think that these times will try the faith of the saints but I think that I feal as strong as ever. There will be great persecution for [these] things but there is a God in Israel yet thanks be to God for it.
Her faith did not depend on the actions of those around her; it was centered in the “God in Israel.” She knew she couldn’t always rely on the faithfulness of others, since even prominent leaders she may have looked up to had fallen away from the Church. She would not let herself be pulled away by them. She knew that it was not worth it to let a lesser concern like the collapse of a bank rob her of the supernal blessings of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Read Phebe's letter here.