The Lord’s people settled in a desert and it blossomed. The pioneer Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley worn out and discouraged, but the Lord strengthened them and was with them. Irrigation helped the Saints grow their crops and brought life-sustaining water to the thirsty land.
1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
President Wilford Woodruff said:
“If those who are now so anxious to obtain the homes we have made, had seen Utah as we [first] saw it, they would never have desired a habitation here, but they would have got out of it as soon as they could. It was barren, desolate, abounding with grasshoppers, crickets, coyotes, and wolves, and these things seemed to be the only natural productions of the soil. We went to work by faith, not much by sight, to cultivate the earth. We broke almost all the plows we had the first day. We had to let streams of water out to moisten the earth, and by experience we had to learn to raise anything. . . .
“I came here on the 24th of July, 1847, with a little handful of men as pioneers. What did we find? A barren desert, as barren as the desert Sahara. . . . How has this desert been made to blossom as the rose? Why this body of people from almost every nation? I will tell you. We carried the gospel to Europe, the islands of the sea, and the different nations of the earth; we offered them the gospel, and a class of men and women—two of a family, and sometimes a dozen of a city—received our testimony, and when we laid hands upon them they received the Holy Ghost. That Holy Ghost has remained with them: it has instructed them and inspired their hearts, and today you see Utah as it is. If the Lord Almighty had not backed up the testimony of the elders of Israel as He has done, Utah today would have been as when we found it [in 1847].”
(In Journal of Discourses, 15:79; 24:242.)