A bit late, but with how my brain is functioning now, I am impressed I got it here at all. I wasn't that excited about this lesson because it was mostly a recap of what happened between the death of Joseph Smith and the start of the trip to Salt Lake. If you would like a review of what happened, here is the link.
To better help myself understand what happened I made a timeline and plotted out everything mentioned in the lesson. Church history lessons have a tendency to jump back and forth without giving you enough references to frame everything. By doing this I noticed that the Lord gave the people direction for this time ten years before everything started to fall apart. D&C 107 was given in the fall of 1935, and among all the other directions, it has these verses, 22-24:
22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.That might not sound like something very interesting, but those three verses are what guarantee a smooth transition whenever a prophet dies. The weddings at the temple don't stop, we keep going to church, because the authority to run God's church is spread out. The First Presidency presides, but the Twelve, and the Seventy, hold all the keys. It is a marvelous blessing to be able to have seamless transitions.
23 The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.
24 And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.
Joseph Smith was also looking at the possibility of moving to the Rocky Mountains by 1834. So by the time it was needed, there was a lot of information and planning already done. The years 1844-1847 were difficult, but without the seeds planted much earlier keeping the people together would have been impossible.
The lesson also talks about the urgency the people had regarding getting their endowments. Brigham Young wrote in his journal:
“Notwithstanding that I had announced that we would not attend to the administration of the ordinances, the House of the Lord was thronged all day, the anxiety being so great to receive, as if the brethren would have us stay here and continue the endowments until our way would be hedged up, and our enemies would intercept us. But I informed the brethren that this was not wise, and that we should build more Temples, and have further opportunities to receive the blessings of the Lord, as soon as the saints were prepared to receive them. In this Temple we have been abundantly rewarded, if we receive no more. I also informed the brethren that I was going to get my wagons started and be off. I walked some distance from the Temple supposing the crowd would disperse, but on returning I found the house filled to overflowing. “Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord. Two hundred and ninety-five persons received ordinances” (History of the Church, 7:579).I spoke with David about this. I think that we underestimate the power of the endowment in our lives. Those of us who went to the temple just as we were starting out an independent life may miss the impact having those blessings, just because we have never been without them.
That was what I tried to stress to the class, the pioneers had a terribly difficult time,. but without the blessings and preparation they received, their task would have been impossible.
I know that in my own life I have seen that. I chose to get pregnant this time. And I have not had easy pregnancies and this one is no different, but I have been given blessings to help me get through it. The difficulties of pregnancy haven't been taken away, but other circumstances and ideas and peace have blessed me with the knowledge that I can get through it. I think when we get to the other side we will be amazed at how much we were helped, without even knowing it.