Lesson 27: Peace in Troubled Times

"Lesson 27: Peace in Troubled Times," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will see that we may have peace in troubled times if we know our lives are righteous.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Obtain a clean comb and bits of paper.

  2. 2.

    Put the following “concentration” game on the chalkboard and cover the words with squares of numbered white paper.

    Numbers 4 and 12 have been uncovered.

    sword

    about with truth

    preparation of the gospel of peace

    of righteousness

    of the Spirit

    of salvation

    feet shod with

    breastplate

    helmet

    shield

    girt

    of faith

  3. 3.

    See that each class member has a copy of the Bible.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Activity

Ask a class member to draw a comb through his hair several times and then hold it close to bits of torn paper. The paper will jump onto the comb.

  • Why do the bits of paper jump to the comb? (The comb is charged with electricity that acts as a magnet.)

Just as you see the effects of the electricity that develop on the comb when it is used, so also can you see the special powers that develop in a person who is actively doing God’s work. A person who is righteous draws about him the power of God.

We have learned how President George Albert Smith lived a righteous life and kept God’s commandments. Although he faced some very frightening situations in his life, he did not seem to be much troubled by them.

  • What was happening in the world at the time he was called to be the prophet of the Church? (World War II was just coming to an end.)

This is a statement he made as an Apostle during World War I: “Though the world may be filled with distress, and the heavens gather blackness, and the vivid lightnings flash, and the earth quake from center to circumference, if we know that God lives, and our lives are righteous, we will be happy, there will be peace unspeakable because we know our Father approves our lives” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1915, p. 28).

President Smith spoke from personal experience. As a young man he was called to serve in the Southern States Mission. For many years Mormon missionaries had not been well received in the South. Some had been whipped, beaten, and killed, or otherwise abused, by mobs.

One evening George Albert Smith stayed in the home of some members along with several other elders and the mission president, J. Golden Kimball. That night, as they slept, a mob gathered. President Smith relates:

“About midnight we were awakened with a terrible shouting and yelling from the outside. President Kimball [J. Golden] jumped up and started to dress. … The men pounded on the door and used filthy language, ordering the Mormons to come out that they were going to shoot them. President Kimball asked me if I wasn’t going to get up and dress and I told him no, I was going to stay in bed, that I was sure the Lord would take care of us. In just a few seconds the room was filled with shots. Apparently the mob had divided itself into four groups and were shooting into the corners of the house. Splinters were flying over our heads in every direction. There were a few moments of quiet, then another volley of shots was fired and more splinters flew. I felt absolutely no terror. I was very calm as I lay there, experiencing one of the most horrible events of my life, but I was sure that as long as I was preaching the word of God and following his teachings that the Lord would protect me, and he did” (George Albert Smith, “How My Life Was Preserved,” in A Story to Tell, comp. Primary Association General Board and the Deseret Sunday School Union Board [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1945], pp. 155–56).

  • Was he terrified? What enabled him to stay calm during such a terrifying experience? (Allow varied answers.)

The Armor of the Lord Protects Saints during Times of Trouble and Trial

Scripture discussion

The Apostle Paul gave some counsel to members of the Church in his time who were facing terrible trials. During those days, Christians were persecuted and even killed because of their beliefs.

Have the class read Ephesians 6:10–18.

Illustration and discussion

  • Consider again George Albert Smith and his calmness while being fired upon. In what ways had he prepared himself with the armor of God?

Write on the chalkboard: Girt about with truth.

  • How had he prepared himself with truth? (He had obeyed the truth as taught by his parents and grandparents.)

Write on the chalkboard: Breastplate of righteousness.

  • How had he developed righteousness? (By keeping the commandments. Remember that he told his grandfather in the vision that he had never done anything of which his grandfather needed to be ashamed. Also, he had willingly accepted this mission call.)

Write on the chalkboard: Feet shod with preparation of the gospel of peace.

President Smith spoke of his feelings when he attended his first mission conference.

“Our meeting [in the woods of Mississippi] started right after breakfast time, and we didn’t even think it was necessary to have anything more to eat until evening. We stayed and enjoyed the inspiration of the Almighty, and we certainly were blessed, notwithstanding the inconveniences and discomforts which surrounded us. At that time there was considerable hostility manifested in Mississippi and other states in the South, but we just felt as if we had walked into the presence of our Heavenly Father, and all fear and anxiety left” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1945, p. 115).

  • How could this conference have been a time of peace—“a preparation of the gospel of peace”? (Allow varied answers.)

Write on the chalkboard: Shield of faith.

President Smith exhibited faith even when he was quite young. As a young boy, George Albert Smith became ill with typhoid fever. The doctor counseled his mother to keep him in bed for three weeks, to give him no solid food, and to have him drink coffee. Years later, President Smith said:

“‘When he went away, I told mother that I didn’t want any coffee. I had been taught that the Word of Wisdom, given by the Lord to Joseph Smith, advised us not to use coffee.

“‘Mother had brought three children into the world and two had died. She was unusually anxious about me.

“‘I asked her to send for Brother Hawks, one of our ward teachers. He was a worker at the foundry, [a] poor and humble man of great faith in the power of the Lord.

“‘He came, administered to me and blessed me that I might be healed.

“‘When the doctor came next morning I was playing outside with other children. He was surprised. He examined me and discovered that my fever had gone and that I seemed to be well.

“‘I was grateful to the Lord for my recovery. I was sure that he had healed me’” (Magazine article in a scrapbook [GAS Collection, U of U, Box 124, Scrapbook 1], p. 4; as cited in Glen R. Stubbs, “A Biography of George Albert Smith, 1870 to 1951” [Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974], p. 12).

Write on the chalkboard: Helmet of salvation and Sword of the Spirit.

  • What evidence is there that George Albert Smith had acquired these two pieces of armor? (As an example, he often said during World War I and II that peace would only come to the nations of the earth as they obtained the Spirit of God [see Conference Report, Apr. 1948, p. 180].)

Activity

Divide the class into two teams. Play the “concentration” game that is on the chalkboard covered with papers. Taking turns, each team sends one person to the chalkboard to select and uncover two squares. The object of the game is to uncover two matching squares. If the squares match, they are left uncovered and the team scores a point. Otherwise, the papers are replaced.

President George Albert Smith gave this promise to Church members that we may all remember in times of trouble:

“There are two influences in the world. The one is the influence of our Heavenly Father and the other is the influence of Satan. We can take our choice which territory we want to live in, that of our Heavenly Father or that of Satan.

“I have many times repeated what my grandfather said. He, too, talked from this stand, and it was he who gave me his name. In advising his family he said, ‘There is a line of demarcation, well defined. On one side of the line is the Lord’s territory. On the other side of the line is the devil’s territory.’ And he said, ‘If you will stay on the Lord’s side of the line, you are perfectly safe, because the adversary of all righteousness can not cross that line.’

“What does that mean? It means to me that those who are living righteous lives, keeping all of the commandments of our Heavenly Father are perfectly safe, but not those who trifle with his advice and counsel” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1949, pp. 5–6).

This world increasingly challenges our faith in God and our standards of righteousness. If we would be “able to stand,” as Paul says, we must prepare now by “wearing” the “armor of righteousness.” With it we can move forward knowing that all will be well. Our righteousness will bring us peace even in the midst of troubled times. Let us help each other to stand “on the Lord’s side.”

Testimony and Challenge

Bear your testimony and challenge class members to wear the armor of God.