Joseph Smith and Remembering Mercy

Teichert First VisionI don’t usually go all preachy at Segullah, but I feel the need to talk about my testimony of Joseph Smith, and if I’m more scripture-laden than usual, please forgive me. I’ve been evaluating and thinking about my testimony of him, and I feel that witnessing right now is important enough that I commit the blogging sin of preachiness for a minute.

A while ago I posted on the idea of remembering mercy. I am still stuck on that idea, as it seems to be jumping out at me every time I read the Book of Mormon. It’s in 1 Nephi 1:20, as Nephi wants us to understand that he’s telling us this story, which Mormon placed at the beginning of the Book of Mormon, that we may see God’s mercy in his life (and, if we liken the scriptures to ourselves, in our own lives):

But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

And in Moroni 10:3, as Moroni finishes his final exhortation, but before he invites everyone to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

Still more examples: 1 Nephi 17, in which Nephi reminds his doubting brothers of God’s previous power in delivering the children of Israel, hoping to help them have faith in his mercies for their present trial of building the boat; Alma 5:4-6, in which Alma wants the people to remember God’s mercy to their fathers so that they will be spiritually prepared to be called to repentance in the rest of the hardline exhortations given in Alma 5; Alma 32:22, in which Alma wants the poor Zoramites to remember God’s mercy before they learn to have faith.

Remembering mercy, then, seems to be a core principle in the development of faith. We must remember how merciful God is, in so many ways, before our hearts can be softened enough to believe. It’s fundamental. And also really hard.

For me, anyway. As I said, I’ve been thinking specifically this weekend about my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, after attending a powerful funeral of a great man who devoted his life to witnessing of the restored gospel. I have been blessed many times with a spiritual witness that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God, and I think that’s part of the mercy I need to remember when I think of Joseph Smith: God’s mercy to me in sending the Spirit to testify. I think of the play I wrote a few years ago for our ward’s Joseph Smith Commemoration, and the Spirit that filled the room when a fourteen-year-old boy in our ward acted out the First Vision. I think of the many, many times on my mission when I began “Vi una columna de luz” and everything in the room hushed, as the Spirit witnessed to me and my investigators that this vision was true. I think of the deep gratitude I have for the Book of Mormon, translated by Joseph Smith, and the strength and comfort it has given me. I think of the blessings of temple ordinances restored through Joseph Smith, and the power they have given me. Truly the Lord has been merciful to me as He has witnessed, repeatedly, through his Spirit, that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

And yet I forget. Unless I remind myself, it’s easy to allow the story of the First Vision to be a footnote rather than a foundation, something I’d prefer to hide away or not have to dwell on or explain. Because, as he himself admitted, Joseph was not perfect, and because there are things about his life I do not understand.

This is where the second part of remembering God’s mercy enters. I think Elder Holland’s words regarding the mercy we need towards our leaders apply here:

So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.

If there is any leader whose human frailty I should be kind towards, it is Joseph Smith, because the restored gospel has blessed me in so many, many ways.

I believe that the Adversary has it out for Joseph Smith, and for each person’s testimony of Joseph Smith, because it is so fundamental to our faith (I still remember my MTC teacher telling me that every doubt I would encounter on my mission could be resolved through the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith. She was absolutely right.) And the only way I can think of to combat those attacks is to remember God’s mercy. To remember the whispers of the Spirit telling me, over and over, that Joseph Smith is a prophet. To remember and count the many blessings I have received through the restoration of the gospel. To remember that I must be merciful to my leaders, because they are doing the best they can to serve God. Remembering mercy softens my heart, helps me believe, places me on the solid foundation I need.

What strengthens your testimony of Joseph Smith the prophet? What helps you remember mercy and build faith?

(First Vision by Minerva Teichert)

About Emily M.

(Poetry Board) graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature, but it was long enough ago that most of what she learned has leaked out. She would like to mention other hobbies or interests, but to be honest she spends most of her free time reading (although she does enjoy attempting yoga). She used to blog at hearingvoices.wordpress.com. For now, though, Segullah is her only blogging home, and it's a good one.

13 thoughts on “Joseph Smith and Remembering Mercy

  1. Thank you for this post. I needed to read it today. My testimony of Joseph Smith was confirmed at girls camp this year. We had a young girl who is not a member of our church at camp with us so I invited the Ward Mission leader to join us one night and share the story of Josephs Smith First Vision. It started to pour rain when we tried to gather around the campfire so he huddled in a covered picnic table. As our humble ward mission leader began to speak of Joseph Smith the Spirit literally rested upon us. It was a blessed experience.

  2. Hey, great post! What comes to my mind in remembering mercy is that the act of remembering and even attempting to keep in remembrance Father’s continual extension of mercy to us as His children is an exercise in gratitude. I find most in my life satisfaction and answers to my own prayers and searching is directly related to my own efforts of remembering, or gratitude. Thanks for your thoughts and preach away! :)

  3. Emily, I’ve had many thoughts these last few days along the same lines. It’s easy to get distracted from a testimony of Joseph Smith–on Sunday a return missionary described how he would invite his fearful, doubting Russian investigators how they *felt* while they heard the story. That was a good reminder for me that I have felt it.

    And in tonight’s FHE lesson I shared how I’ve taken on a project to write down as many past experiences with the Spirit as I can remember. The powerful act of remembering has further strengthened my testimony. I’ve even discovered patterns that reveal new truths. Thanks for helping me see these experiences as God’s mercy.

  4. The act if remembering is key for me. Thank you for the reminder. ;) I actually shared some thoughts on mercy on my blog earlier this morning, but from a slightly different angle–being a more merciful mother. So with mercy on my mind, I was very glad for your post tonight. I also love the Minerva. I had forgotten about that painting.

  5. Lovely and sincere. It helps me tremendously to see people as human and then realize the mercies God provides through them regardless of their failings. And then I wonder to realize that oft times God is able to use me too. It’s a mercy for me as well as others.

  6. I love finding those little themes in the scriptures, they are like special secrets the Lord is waiting to tell us at the right time. I think I have always sort of read right on past that phrase, and now it will stand out to me.

    My testimony of the prophet was one of the first lights that went on clearly in my process of conversion. Thanks for the great reminder and insight.

  7. I haven’t been blessed with a strong witness as about Joseph Smith specifically. However, I had a very strong witness of 4 things in a spiritual experience I had in February of 1987. I received a strong witness of Christ, the Book of Mormon, the temple, and the law of chastity. Joseph Smith’s role as prophet of the restoration is very intertwined with those things as are many other gospel truths. So it’s a package deal. Thank you for sharing how you combat doubt and how you find themes asserting themselves in your scripture study.

  8. Emily, this wasn’t preachy. It was testimony. And I found it refreshing to be reminded of Joseph’s work as foundation, not footnote (loved that line). Serving in Nauvoo, my testimony of Joseph increased quickly. While many nonbelievers questioned his motives, the spirit confirmed to me so. many. times. that he was god’s chosen prophet to accomplish the restoration. I too loved saying those words, “I saw a pillar of light…” Every time, the spirit was present. Thanks for this beautiful reminder of God’s mercy and the mercy we ought to give others. xo

  9. Emily, I loved this too. I always hear “vi un luz exactamente sobre mi cabeza” when we speak of the first vision. Missions are a continual blessing.

    I was able to visit Nauvoo this summer (during our cross country move). As I stood next to Joseph and Emma’s graves I wept thinking of how much this prophet’s work had affected my life. Truly I’ve experienced the tender mercies of God through his prophet. Thanks for the reminder (I didn’t find it preachy either, but I’m part of the choir!).

  10. I remember sitting in the Nauvoo Temple with my three children during the last dedication session and hearing all the sublime music and testimonies honoring Joseph Smith. I remember the Spirit testifying to me that every word I was hearing was true. I felt that same sweet assurance as I read your words. Thanks, Emily…

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