I have often asked myself why Joseph trusted Martin Harris. You can tell that he was reluctant to cave into Martin’s request for the manuscript. I am sure, once God said no the first time, Joseph felt relief.
But Martin was persistent.
I have to remind myself, Joseph was a naturally trusting person. Throughout his life he placed great confidence in people, elevated them to key positions, and shared his heart and soul with them only be betrayed.
Also, in April, 1828, Joseph was only 23. He was a young man with no reputation, well, at least not a good reputation.
Martin, on the other hand, was almost twice Joseph’s age. He was successful, rich, and respected. I wonder if I was 23 and pressed by a much older and prestigious man to consent to a somewhat reasonable request, would I have done just what Joseph did?
But let’s worry less about why Joseph agreed to Martin’s request and focus on how he likely felt when Martin failed to return.
Martin traveled from Harmony, PA to Manchester, NY with the manuscript. That’s about a 300-mile trip. In the best of circumstances, that would have taken about three-weeks. That meant Joseph had three weeks to worry over this uncomfortable decision.
When three weeks were up, my guess is everyday brought with it an increased feeling of impending doom.
Days went by.
No word from Martin.
Finally, Joseph makes the long journey to Manchester to meet with Martin – face to face.
That had to be a horrible trip.
What would Joseph do if something bad happen to the manuscript?
More important, what would God do?
God took back the plates.
He retrieved the interpreters.
He left Joseph alone for a while to reflect on what he had done.
These were Joseph’s darkest days. I know those long weeks languishing in Liberty Jail was hard on Joseph. But being in that horrible prison what not Joseph’s fault. The idea of losing his sacred calling was never at risk.
But those few weeks when Joseph was banned from translating forced him to wonder if he had failed in his sacred calling.
Then, in July of that year, the revelation came that Joseph was, once again, permitted to continue the work.
Centuries before this event, God had anticipated this disaster and planned around it. As He stated:
The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated…
This familiar story, as awful as it was for Joseph, should give each of us hope.
God will never give up on us. He has endless ways and sufficient time to work with us as we overcome our own weaknesses.
Sure, sometimes we feel God has abandoned us.
We feel alone and discouraged.
Yes, while He let Joseph stew for a while, He never abandoned his Prophet.
I am likewise confident God will never have abandon us.