The Weak Can Be Made Strong through Christ

Jesus walking on Water

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with your struggles, temptations, and weaknesses? Have you ever doubted you have the capacity to make a difference in the Church or in the world? If so, you may find comfort, as my family and I have, in studying the Lord’s words in the Doctrine and Covenants this year.

Christ Will Strengthen Us

In beginning our study, I took particular interest in the first section, which serves as the “preface” to the entire work (Doctrine and Covenants 1:6). Three things my family and I find particularly pertinent about a preface are:

  • It introduces the main messages of the book, helping the reader to watch for key ideas and concepts.

  • It explains the main purposes of the book, giving the reader a sense of the importance of the messages.

  • It is given from the author’s point of view.

Doctrine and Covenants

While the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were given through Joseph Smith, the Lord is its Author. With this understanding we learn that the Lord foresaw “the calamity” which would come upon the earth during the apostasy (Doctrine and Covenants 1:17). His rescue plan involves “that the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:23).

Our family has come to the understanding that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are among the “weak” and “simple” whom the Lord has tasked with the responsibility to spread the gospel. This has inspired us to search the Doctrine and Covenants for examples of how God has used the weak and the simple to bring about His purposes and to apply those examples to our own lives as we seek to fulfil our own gospel responsibilities.

Reading scripture

Fast forward to our recent study of the Doctrine and Covenants 30-36 outlined in the April 5-11, 2021 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families manual. In those sections, we find the Lord calling early members to serve missions. Parley P. Pratt was one of the most experienced in the gospel, having only been a member about one month.

Can you imagine being asked to share knowledge you are still only learning yourself? I can! Although I have been a member my whole life, I still sometimes feel inadequate, especially when called upon to answer difficult gospel questions or serve in Church callings.

young woman
Leah Jahn

I remember when my daughter Leah turned 12 years-old and was asked to give her first talk in sacrament meeting. Being a naturally sweet and mild child, who does not seek out the spotlight, she was actually quite terrified. She prayed that Heavenly Father would give her the courage. Though she was literally shaking and on the brink of tears, she had faith the Lord would help her through this public speaking ordeal. She was on His errand!

Woman with Jesus

Though she spoke quickly and hurriedly walked away at the end into my waiting arms, my beautiful daughter—God’s beautiful daughter—delivered an important message about charity and love that brought an outpouring of the Spirit and touched many hearts. Her unique message could only be given by her. Not only was it okay that she felt weak, but the Lord intended that His gospel be shared by the “weak” and the “simple.” The Spirit guiding her delicate and humble heart was more powerful than anything an experienced orator could reproduce. As we fulfill our gospel duties, the Lord’s Spirit will enhance our own abilities and lend us strength.

Rely on Christ

Oliver Cowdery

We may feel like David Whitmer, who was frightened to be confronted with the opposing ideas of the world. Though the Lord told Whitmer that he had “feared man” when he should have “relied on [the Lord] for strength” (Doctrine and Covenants 30:1), the Lord still entrusted him with “further commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 30:4).

My son, Landon was only a 10-year-old boy when the Lord entrusted him with an important work. As is our family custom, my husband was giving each of our four living children a father’s blessing at the beginning of the school year. Landon was told that the Lord blessed him to become more “wise and compassionate,” because someone from school would need Landon’s counsel and love more than ever and that Landon would bless this person’s life. Our whole family felt the Spirit so strongly as we marveled at how specific this blessing was.

young man
Landon Jahn

We did not know then that only a couple of months later, a classmate named Lisa (a pseudonym) would be beaten up on the school grounds, and only Landon would stand up for her. Afterwards, this young girl started talking with Landon more often and eventually confided in him. Lisa explained how several years before her father had died of cancer, and she really missed him. She had been contemplating suicide. I never expected that my young son would face such a traumatic situation, but through the powerful blessing of the Spirit, Landon was given maturity and compassion beyond his years to respond effectively. He told her that it was okay to miss her dad. He explained that his older brother had passed away, and he misses him. Then he said, “Lisa, I would really miss you too, so please stay here and be my friend.”

Landon and Lisa are still friends. Lisa’s mother recently texted me to let me know what a blessing Landon has been in her daughter’s life. He is just a boy, but the Lord calls upon “the weak and the simple” to accomplish His great works (Doctrine and Covenants 1:23).

All we need to do, as the Lord counselled David Whitmer, is to rely on Him “for strength” (Doctrine and Covenants 30:1).

Families Will Be Blessed

Thomas Marsh

I feel such gratitude that all my children and family have been strengthened by the Lord through their faith. The Lord promised Thomas B. Marsh that “because of your faith … I will bless you and your family, yea, your little ones; and the day cometh that they will believe and know the truth and be one with you and in my church” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:1-2).

My maternal grandmother, Ann Anderson, was introduced to the restored Church of Jesus Christ by my grandfather, Richard Anderson. She was baptized at age 17. My grandpa always said that his main mission in life was to teach her and then marry her—which he did. Ann hoped her parents would join the Church, but they were not interested right away. She focused on teaching her children and serving in various callings. She trusted in a patriarchal blessing promise that as she was faithful, her family would be united in the gospel. After 13 years, she saw the fulfillment of this promise when her parents entered the waters of baptism on September 15, 1973.

Four Generations
Four generations (from right to left): Great grandmother, Ann Anderson; Ann’s granddaughter, Jessica Jahn; Ann’s great granddaughter, Lauren Ellis; Ann’s daughter, Elizabeth Kearl

Through Ann Anderson’s faith, five generations have been blessed with the gospel: herself, her parents, her six children, 27 grandchildren, and a host of great grandchildren. This past summer, she watched my oldest daughter, Lauren, be married for time and all eternity—her first great grandchild to be sealed in marriage in the Holy temple of the Lord. My grandmother came to reap the harvest that comes when you “thrust in your sickle with all your soul” and prove “worthy of [her] hire” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:5).

Recent family photo (from right to left): Leah Jahn, Len Jahn, Jessica Jahn, Lauren Ellis, Chase Ellis, Krista Jahn, and Landon Jahn

I love my family. I love my husband and our five children: Ian, Lauren, Krista, Leah, and Landon. I know that even though we may sometimes feel that we are not good enough, the Lord entrusts the weak and the simple with His work. Through faith in Christ, we will become strong. All generations will be blessed as we move forward united in faith.