The Women that Stood By
Jeremiah 44:23 - Jeremiah 49:37
"Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude...answered Jeremiah, saying, "As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth..." (Jeremiah 44:15-17)
I was caught of guard by the second sentence in that verse...all the women that stood by.
It struck me deeply that the women who simply stood by and watched were as wrong as the women who had chosen to worship other gods.
I couldn't help but wonder about the moments in my life when I have stood by.
In my thinking I realized that the action of standing by can take place for both good and for bad. In the case of the days of Jeremiah, the women who stood by and watched the worship of other gods had made a choice that would affect their future negatively.
But then I found this quote from President Hinckley who spoke of the good and faithful servants who have carried forward this work from the beginning.
"They were present in the home of Peter Whitmer when the Church was organized. They were among the few who stood by the Prophet in the troubled days of the New York period of the Church. They readily left Kirtland to serve missions wherever they were asked to go, at the call of the Prophet.
They made the long march with Zion’s Camp, the eight-hundred-mile journey from Ohio to western Missouri. They stood by the Prophet in Liberty Jail. Peeled and driven, they staggered with the destitute Saints across the bottomlands of the Mississippi and into Quincy, Illinois.
They drained the swamps of Commerce to create Nauvoo the Beautiful. They erected the magnificent house of the Lord on the hill above the river. They were with Joseph at Carthage. They mourned his death and rallied to the leadership of the Twelve. With mobs at their backs they abandoned their homes and temple and faced the Iowa winter. Some of them marched the long, long road with the Mormon Battalion to San Diego and then back to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.
Others followed the Elkhorn and the Platte on to Scottsbluff, South Pass, Independence Rock, and down into this valley. Here they grubbed sagebrush; fought crickets; labored and prayed; built homes, churches, and temples to their God.
Through all of this long odyssey there were those who were not loyal, some few who were traitors, who were betrayers, but they were a small minority. Honor be to those who stood firm, and to their wives who worked beside them." (Gordon B. Hinckley, The Good and Faithful Servants, October 1984)
There is an important lesson here.
In the chapters that follow these scriptural verses, Jeremiah recounts the devastation that follows the army of Babylon ––the destruction he had prophesied about. In that moment, each of those women who stood by learned an important lesson: Jeremiah was, in fact, a prophet. All along he had been speaking for the Lord.
Waiting until the armies of Babylon approached ended up being a bad time to find out that Jeremiah was the prophet of the Lord.
Why didn't they listen sooner?
Instead of being women that stood by as others wives burned incense unto other gods, why didn't they choose to stand by the prophet?
To stand firm.
We, too, are part of the great odyssey President Hinckley spoke of. We are surrounded by those who are not loyal.
All the days of my life I want to be known as one of the few who stood by the Prophet.
Honor be to those who stood firm.
May we honor them by choosing to still stand firm today.