Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions. –Jacob 3:1
In the early hours of the morning on December 17, 2010, fire fighters were called to a 4-alarm fire in an old and historic building in downtown Provo, Utah.
The fire continued to burn throughout the day, completely gutting the building and leaving only the exterior walls standing, with nine feet of rubble inside.
This building, the Provo Tabernacle, belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served as a meeting house and cultural center since 1885. I drive by this quilting every day on my way to and from work. For eleven months, I watched as the building sat in ruins while the debris from the fire was sorted through and removed. When the work was done, I wondered what would become of this once beautiful landmark.
My heart was filled with joy as, on October 1, 2011, it was announced that the building would be rebuilt, with restoration and preservation of the exterior, to become an LDS Temple.
In a recent, world-wide meeting, Sister Linda S. Reeves spoke about the fire. She said, Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”
Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.
The Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.
I have watched the construction for the past two year. It is slow going. For months and months, the building stood on steel scaffolding as the area around it was excavated. Foundations have been poured, several basements have been added. The walls of the original building were reinforced and brought to current code and construction of the interior has now begun. But it will be close to two more years before it is completed.
I anticipate the day when the Temple will be complete; when this once great building will be something even better than it was. I find hope in the comparison that when things are hard, I am not left in the ashes but through the Savior, Jesus Christ, I can become something better than I was.
*Note: None of these photographs are mine. Photos have been posted and reposted without credit so many times that I don't know who to give proper credit to for the first two photos. The artist rendering of the completed Provo City Center Temple and the building on scaffolding are both from the LDS Church.