Digging to Find Strength in Crisis

A shortened version of a familiar story, that bears repeating – with some applications to think about.

The site of the Salt Lake temple was dedicated in 1853. For the next few years, the construction proceeded as the foundation was built which would eventually support the magnificent building. It was a mammoth undertaking. The foundation was  over 8 feet deep, and was finally reaching ground level.

Then, in 1858, the work stopped.

The President of the United States, James Buchananan, sent an army to Salt Lake to put down the “rebellious” Mormons. This would later be known as “The Utah War.”

At one point, the entire city of Salt Lake was evacuated. 30,000 people took their belongings and headed south, to Provo. Once again the saints were fleeing from oppression. It was yet another distressful, frightening exodus for the saints. Barefoot, hungry and frustrated, they walked away from their new homes. Again.

Brigham Young instructed that the stones that had been cut for the temple be hidden, and that the foundation be covered with dirt. They did just that. After the foundation was filled in, they plowed the block so that it looked like a farm field. Then they left it, hoping it would remain unmolested by the encroaching army.

After the “War” had been resolved, the saints returned to Salt Lake. One of the tasks that lay ahead was to uncover the temple foundation, and get back to work.

When the foundation was cleared, it became obvious that there was a problem:  The foundation had been made of large sandstone blocks, and over the time that they had been buried, many of them cracked – making them unusable for the foundation.

Brigham Young ordered that the weak and cracked sandstone be removed from the foundation, and that it be replaced by better, stronger stuff. He said, “I want to see the temple built in a manner that it will endure through the Millennium.”

How? Start over.

The cracked sandstone was removed, and replaced by a granite-like stone that was cut from a quarry a fair distance from the temple. It was no small task to tear out the foundation that took seven years to build, and rebuild it with stone that had to be cut and hauled to the temple.

Foundation Stones

But they did it.  The result was a strong foundation which will, indeed, support the glorious Salt lake Temple into the Millennium.


Here is my thought: If Johnston’s Army had not been dispatched to Salt Lake, and the saints not been forced to flee, the Salt Lake Temple would have been constructed on a faulty foundation, in a valley full of fault lines and seismic activity.

Simpler: If not for the unwanted crisis, the temple might not have stood the test of time.

Application: Which crisis are you experiencing right this very minute that will, in reality, strengthen your very foundation, and enable you to stand the test of time?

This earth life is not only about short-term impact. What happens today has eternal ramifications.

We are hard-pressed, if not wrong, to claim that whatever crisis we are currently experiencing is ultimately a bad thing.

Chin up.

MMM logo small


I was asked for some scriptural support for this post:

Scriptural backing to this idea: D&C 122:7, (Or really, ALL of 122) and a great talk by James E. Faust http://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/02/the-blessings-of-adversity

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  1. With all the “revelation” about stuff so inconsequential as where someone should go at times why wouldn’t this “all knowing God” tell Brigham how to build a foundation right at the start?

    1. Apparently guys named Brigham have problems with foundational issues. Nice troll- enjoy your fun on Reddit.

  2. The number of times the Saints had to “start over” is astounding, but their stories help me when I don’t feel like picking myself up and starting again. Thanks for the reminder and perspective!

  3. Dang it! I taught that lesson last Sunday and totally missed this point. I get hung up on the Wow-the Lord-really-tries-the-Saints stuff and completely miss the underlying lessons hidden underneath.

  4. I think of this quote:
    Elder Orson F. Whitney said: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, 98).

  5. Two miscarriages in four months after a year of trying to conceive. Still in too much pain to see the big picture. I hope that you’re right and there is one.

    1. I know it’s a very small consolation but much love and hugs to you. It’s comments like these that remind me to appreciate what I have while I have it. xx

  6. Speechless. MMM hits home again with a personally relatable post. Thanks for always being an inspiration. A writer of thought and feeling provoking material. You are so appreciated and loved.

  7. When I blog about my trials, I usually talk about how these trials turn out to be blessings. I still am going through some that I haven’t seen that perspective, but I often have two thought processes(sp):

    1. Would I be the person I am today if I did not have these trials? Would I have met certain people, mainly my husband, had I not had these experiences?

    2. Trials are inevitable. If I don’t have these trials, are there others that I want? I often think about it and say, “nope”.

    I am grateful that my Heavenly Father knows me better than anyone else. He knows when I’ll be healed from my back injury, He knows when we’ll be blessed with children. He knows when my husband will start grad school and how we’ll be able to support ourselves. I trust in Him and I believe in His promises. Just like the saints did.

    Great post, MMM.

  8. Thank you. I needed this message today. I’ll work on keeping my chin up just. Removing a faulty foundation to allow the Lord to build a firm one is indeed difficult work.

  9. I’ve never been a fan of “grateful for my trials” kind of thinking. It seems kind of warped and strange to me. I can be thankful for the help that comes during the difficulties. I can be grateful for miracles and blessing that get me through them. I can even see the growth that happens after or even during the struggle and be glad for that.
    Seems like denial to say that bad is good.
    Sorry, this is one of my personal paradoxes that I’ll probably fight the rest of my life, through every hardship that comes my way.

  10. Thank you MMM. My son is newly on his mission and the reality of it is setting in. The work is hard and he is having to dig deep to remain positive. I mailed him this blog post with some words of encouragement. Certainly he is strengthening his foundation. Thanks again for the impecible timing of a great blog post!

  11. Thank you. This is a heaven-sent message for me. Here in Hawaii, we are facing potential legislation that would severely curtail religious freedoms. The Governor’s proposed Same-Sex Marriage bill threatens churches and people of faith. I was discouraged to the point of tears last night, wondering how, in the United States of America, we could have gotten to the this point. Perhaps this is a similar “War” that will allow us to check and strengthen our foundation. Chin quivering upward . . .

  12. Timely reminder. The Intel site where I work is being sold and I must relocate. Obviously I need to figure out what He wants for us and move on, doing my best in whatever that may be.

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