This article is part of a series on Discovering the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see Featured Author Jane Birch.
I’ve loved sharing the videos I produced this summer! I’m grateful for the help of a remarkably talented film creator, Greg Williams. I hope you have enjoyed the videos and will take the time to share them with family and friends. The Word of Wisdom message has the power to dramatically change lives for the better!
Here are the links to all five videos:
- Discovering the Word of Wisdom: A Short Film
- The Johnsons’ Story
- The Joneses’ Story
- The Taylors’ Story
- Jane Birch’ Story
Preparing for the Last Days
Whether you consider yourself a “prepper” or not, we all know we should be preparing for the future. In fact, our entire life journey was designed by God as a time for preparation:
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Alma 34:32)
This life is the time to prepare, not just for the rest of our life, but for all of eternity. In this sense, we should all be preppers!
Of course, we also have the responsibility to prepare for the last days, the end of times. The fact that we live in the last days is built into the very name of our church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are Latter-Days Saints, Saints of the Latter Days, the Last Days, the period of the earth just before the End of Times.
The dietary counsel the Lord has given us is designed for our time. In Section 89 of the D&C the Lord tells us specifically that this revelation, this Word of Wisdom, shows forth:
the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days. (D&C 89:2, emphasis added)
Furthermore, the Lord tells us why the counsel He gives us in D&C 89 is particularly needed in our day, in these last days:
Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation (D&C 89:4, emphasis added)
We are His saints in the latter days. He has a work for us to do. But “in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men” in these very “last days,” this work can be thwarted. Therefore, this revelation, this Word of Wisdom, is the “order and will of God” for “all saints in the last days.” That’s us!
Note that this is the Lord’s preface to all the counsel He gives us in Section 89, not just the parts we typically focus on!
What Does the Word of Wisdom Have to Do with Preparing for the Future?
What does the Word of Wisdom have to do with preparing for the future? Let’s consider some of the Lord’s promises in D&C 89:
- health in navel and marrow to bones;
- wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
- run and not be weary, walk and not faint.
- the destroying angel shall pass you by and not slay you.
Again note that these promises apply to observing all of the counsel in D&C 89, not just the parts we consider necessary to obtain a temple recommend. These blessings obviously go far beyond health. Elder Stephen L Richards taught:
Every commandment of God is spiritual in nature. . . . While the commandments have effect upon the body and temporal things they are all in essence spiritual. The Word of Wisdom is spiritual. It is true that it . . . makes provision for the health of the body. But the largest measure of good derived from its observance is in increased faith and the development of more spiritual power and wisdom.
Is there anything we’d wish to accomplish in life, or that the Lord would want us to do in mortality, that would not be helped by increased faith or the greater physical, mental, and spiritual blessings promised in the Word of Wisdom?
The Lord Is Hastening His Work: Do We Have the Energy to Keep Up?
The Lord is hastening His work. We get to join Him in this great latter-day effort. What part of this work is not aided by better health? What part is not aided by an increase of faith or being more in tune with the Spirit of the Lord?
Consider just one aspect of this work: proclaiming the gospel. We all know senior couples who can not serve because of serious health issues. But sadly most of us also know young people who can’t serve a full-time mission because of health conditions. Too many of these health problems are a result, at least in part, of eating the standard American diet. How many more Saints, young and old, could serve a full-time mission (even many missions!) if they had better health? How might increased faith and spiritual strength aid in proclaiming the gospel throughout the world?
What about other aspects of the Lord’s work that He is hastening in our day? How might physical and spiritual health aid in doing any of the following?
- Strengthening the saints
- Caring for the poor and needy
- Building temples
- Food storage and emergency preparedness
- Genealogy and family history
Consider typical comments made by faithful Latter-day Saints who have embraced a whole food, plant-based Word of Wisdom diet:
- I’ve never felt happier and healthier in my whole life, and I’m 68. I’m currently serving a full time mission in the Family History Library, and it is so much fun! But it breaks my heart to watch so many of my friends and family members making themselves sick just with what they eat. I see so many wonderful people on Temple Square each day, struggling with health problems (Sue Reuser, “It’s not God’s plan that so many of us be sick”)
- My husband’s heart disease symptoms are completely gone. He no longer sweats, no longer gets sleepy when he is driving, no longer snores, is able to keep up with our six boys in playing basketball, tennis, running, and lifting weights. He has been able to do just about anything an average 52 year-old man can do that doesn’t have heart disease, and he looks 10 years younger according to many of our ward members that have known him for a long time. He is no longer depressed, and he is serving as the first counselor in our bishopric. (Deb Hadden, “We avoided a massive heart attack”)
- All the tumors disappeared completely. It’s been three years, and I have absolutely no trace of tumors or cancer. . . . I am full of energy and feel fantastic . . . Since arriving in the Vienna International Ward in May 2012, our family has had a positive impact on our potlucks, without saying anything (example is everything). It used to be that we could only eat what I brought from home; now there is a lot on the table that we can eat! . . . In our last Ward Council, there was only fruit for snacks, and I did not bring them (it used to be only junk food). (Elodie Picard, “I went on my knees and asked for His help”)
- After four months [serving a full-time temple mission in] Spain . . . I began noticing chest pains . . . Reading the scientific evidence for the tremendous health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet helped me to understand the complexity of the problem, and gave me the motivation to begin a WFPB diet that enabled me to stay in Spain and to have the health and energy to enjoy the demanding, 50-hours-per-week of a temple mission . . . My weight is [now] down to the best it’s been since I ran my personal best marathon thirty-two years ago. (Scott Zimmerman, “I am a food addict”) [Note: Scott and his wife Beverly are now serving a third mission together in New York!]
Preparing for the End of Times
Great physical and spiritual upheavals have been prophesied for the last days. Who can say when the prophecies will come to pass and we “shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land” (D&C 45:31). When God warns the inhabitants of the earth by spreading “pestilences of every kind“ (D&C 43:25), will not our obedience to the Word of Wisdom protect us? Will we not be grateful for the Lord’s promise “that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:21)?
In this remarkable passage, Elder George Q. Cannon warned that future calamities will wake the saints up to the need for better observance of the Word of Wisdom:
Our religion impresses upon us the importance of taking care of our bodies. Yet, notwithstanding that which the Lord has done for us in revealing to us the true principles of life, there is a great amount of ignorance even among us upon this important subject. . . . Many of the Saints do not seem to be alive to the importance of those laws which pertain to well-being and preservation of the health and strength of the body. Their old traditions cling to them, and it appears to be difficult for them to shake them off. Yet the day must come when the people of God will be superiors physically and mentally, to every other people upon the face of the earth. Before this day shall come . . . pestilence of various kinds, which we are led to expect through the word of the Lord are yet to break forth, will have their effect in calling the Saints’ attention to those laws of life and health which, to be a strong and vigorous people, we must observe.
If pestilence should stalk through the land . . . many who are now careless respecting the words of the Lord contained in the Word of Wisdom will be likely to reform their habits and pay attention to the counsels which He there gives. . . . We are promised greater safety than other people are likely to enjoy; but the promises are based on certain conditions, which must be observed . . . why should people in our day expect to enjoy health and an exemption from the visit of the destroyer when he goes forth as he did in Egypt if they do not comply with the conditions which the Lord has prescribed.
Great calamities are part of the last days. Whether they happen this year, during our lifetimes, or during the lifetimes of our descendants, it takes no imagination to understand that both physical and spiritual strength will be invaluable in times of great stress and deprivation. Surely it will be all the harder for us during these times if we are physically weak, heavily dependent on medication, or suffer from food addictions.
Even if the calamities foretold do not occur during our lifetimes, how can we help our children and grandchildren and future descendants prepare for these times? Will they have the physical and spiritual strength necessary if their diets are largely processed foods, animal foods, and other junk foods? If it seems difficult to help the family get started down this path today, why will it be easier in the future? How and when will your family get started on a path to better eating?
The Blessings Are Not Just for the Future!
Of course, we don’t need to wait for worldwide catastrophes to realize the value of preparing ourselves by heeding the counsel in the Word of Wisdom. This is not like food storage, where we may save for years and not fully realize the benefits. We can experience the promised blessings now! By changing our diets to conform with the Word of Wisdom, we can experience better well-being immediately and every day for the rest of our lives.
Why wait for “pestilence of various kinds” to prompt us to break free from our old traditions and pay attention to the counsel the Lord has given us for our day? Do we not already see many saints around us succumbing to chronic diseases of every kind that could be prevented by more fully embracing the Word of Wisdom? Do we really love the unhealthy foods we eat so much that we prefer them to the blessings of health the Lord would give us?
Let’s do what we can today to prepare for tomorrow and the rest of our lives. For “the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32).
Real Mormons • Real Stories
Mignon Probst was troubled by various health concerns. She was also concerned about her dependence on prescription medication. She wrote:
I worried that a time might come when I could not obtain medications. What then? I find it paradoxical in our LDS culture of preparedness that we spend a great deal of money and effort to store food and other necessities, yet may have only a three month supply of life sustaining drugs at any given time for conditions brought upon us by consuming the “king’s meat” (see Daniel 1:5) and other rich foods. So of what personal value is our home storage beyond that? I am satisfied that self-reliance not only includes gathering and storing, but decreasing/eliminating the need for prescription medications. I believe that after having done all we can do, we might more confidently call upon the Lord’s healing power for conditions beyond our control.
Have you thought about what you would do in times of need if you could not get medications you currently rely on? Read about what happened when Mignon went to the Lord with this problem, and He gave her an unmistakable answer! See: “I asked the Lord for a definitive answer”
More on the Word of Wisdom
For more help on embracing a healthy Word of Wisdom diet, see: “Getting Started on a Whole Food, Plant-based Word of Wisdom Diet”
Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (2013) and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.
 Stephen L Richards, “Keep the Commandments,” In LDS Conference Report (April 1949): 141.)
 George Q. Cannon, “Topic of the Times,” Juvenile Instructor 27, no. 22 (November 15, 1892): 689–691.