As we near Pioneer Day, our thoughts often turn to those pioneers who have come before us. One such pioneer was Susanna Stone Lloyd, who at age 25 was the only member of her family to make the journey to Zion. Her story was related by Lloyd Newell in Music and the Spoken Word on July 25, 2004.
The pioneer story of Susanna Stone, a brave woman who crossed the Atlantic by ship and the country on foot, teaches us about faith. Over the course of several months in 1856, she walked more than a thousand miles with the Willey handcart company. At first, the terrain was mostly sagebrush and sunflowers. Then it turned cold—bitter cold—as winter came. Provisions ran short, the remaining bit of flour was rationed, and Susanna watched as dozens in her company were buried along the trail. To survive, she traded her precious looking glass to the Indians for buffalo meat. Ultimately, it would be her faith that sustained her as she walked and walked.
Susanna wrote about the watchful hand of God that accompanied the pioneers. She said, “It was hard to endure, but the Lord gave us strength and courage and blessed us and I praise His holy name.”
Often, our loving Heavenly Father does not remove suffering; He gives us strength for the journey. The path is never all sunflowers. When the storms of adversity come, as they do, He grants us peace if we diligently seek Him. No matter the circumstance, He lovingly tutors and grants us the wisdom and will to endure in faith. What the pioneers came to know, we can know: “God slumbers not nor sleeps as he watches over his children” (Psalms 121:4).
Susanna understood this. She remembered, “I often think of the songs we sang to encourage us on our journey. . . . We would sit under our carts and sing ‘Come, Come Ye Saints’ and only once did my courage fail. One cold dreary day, my feet having been frozen, I felt I could not go on. I withdrew a little from the company and sat down to await the end, being somewhat in a stupor. I was aroused by a voice which seemed as audible as anything could be. It spoke to my very soul of the promises and blessings I had received. . . . I received strength and was filled with the spirit of the Lord. I arose and traveled with a light heart.”
For Susanna Stone, and for each of us, the words of the pioneer song, written on that trail of suffering but also joy, resound in the hearts of all who look to God for comfort, strength, and peace. “Come, Come Ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear; But with joy wend your way. . . . All is well! All is well!”