A Prophet’s Love for His Parents

By Susan Arrington Madsen

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    The Prophet Joseph Smith knew his life was in danger. Angry mobs had followed him everywhere, threatening his life and the lives of his family. Then in the fall of 1838 he had been arrested again in Far West, Missouri.

    As he was tied and pushed into a canvas-covered wagon, he asked for the privilege of saying good-bye to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, who tearfully watched him being taken away. The officers refused to let the Prophet out of the wagon, so he called out to his mother to come closer. Searching frantically, Joseph found a rip in the canvas and reached out to touch his mother’s hand for one last good-bye. Just touching her hand seemed to be important to him as the wagon quickly pulled away and Joseph Smith was taken to the Liberty Jail. There he was confined to a dark, crowded dungeon for six months.

    Joseph always felt a great love for both of his parents, and many stories tell of his concern for their welfare and his desire to honor them. One of these accounts tells of the time when Joseph was a young boy undergoing a leg operation. Rather than have his mother see or hear him suffer, he pleaded with her to leave the room during the painful ordeal. His other request was that he not be tied down, but that he be held in his father’s arms during the operation.

    As Joseph grew older, he spent many days sitting at the bedside of his parents, nursing them back to health. Each time he moved his home to a new location he arranged for a house to be built near him for his parents to live in, so he would have them close by for their advice and company.

    Joseph’s mother writes of the Prophet’s happiness when his father, Joseph Smith, Sr., was baptized in 1830: “… Joseph stood upon the shore, and taking his father by the hand, he exclaimed, with tears of joy, ‘Praise to my God! that I have lived to see my own father baptized into the true Church of Jesus Christ!’”

    Another event that shows Joseph’s love and respect for his father happened one time after he had had a disagreement with his brother William. Joseph went to his father for advice and the dispute was settled when young Joseph obediently accepted his father’s counsel.

    On one occasion Joseph testified what a blessing it was to have parents “whose mature years and experience [enable them to give] the most wholesome advice.”

    As we remember the birthday of the Prophet Joseph on December 23rd, it is good to think about the great love and respect he had for his parents. And they, in return, loved and supported him. His mother and father were the first to hear and believe Joseph’s story of the appearance of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. Both the Prophet’s parents were present on April 6, 1830, the day the Church was organized. In 1833, his father was ordained the first patriarch in the Church, and a year later he became one of the assistant presidents.

    So great was Joseph’s love for his parents that he wrote in his diary: “Blessed is my mother for her soul is ever filled with benevolence … and blessed is my father, for the hand of the Lord shall be over him.”