In Our Lovely Deseret: May in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Published: Sunday, May 18 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

• In May 1837, the Kirtland Temple had been dedicated just the year before, sealed with the presence of angels, heavenly visitors and even the Savior himself (see Doctrine and Covenants 109). Now the bank panic that swept the country began on May 10 in New York — and provided the enemies of the Saints another opportunity to declaim and destroy them, as the Kirtland Safety Society bank failed. At length, in sorrow, the body of the church left their homes and beautiful temple — a holy and sanctified place. In the first seven months of 1838, over 1,600 Saints fled the city.

• But by May 1839, the LDS Church had survived the ravages of Missouri, Joseph and Hyrum had returned from Liberty Jail, and with Emma and his four children, Joseph moved into a small two-story log house in Nauvoo, Illinois, later to become known as the Homestead.

• On May 19, 1842, Joseph was elected the second mayor of Nauvoo, the city he had both envisioned and named, replacing the apostate John C. Bennett, who was excommunicated.

• Other important and significant things were also moving forward. Earlier, on May 4 of the same year, the Prophet administered the sacred endowment for the first time in the upstairs room of his red brick store on Water Street. The Lord was beginning to empower as well as prepare his people.

• In May 1843, Joseph, dining with the “Little Giant,” Stephen A. Douglas, told the ambitious politician: “Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you.”

• There were not too many springs left for the Prophet. On May 17, 1844,the state convention held in Nauvoo nominated Joseph Smith as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Though praised by many for the clarity and wisdom of his political views, the powers of darkness rose and gathered and would not again be quelled.

• Nine days later, on May 26, Joseph addressed the Saints during what was to be the last month of his life. He told them, “I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation …”

“God is in the still small voice,” he said. And when Joseph’s life ended on June 27 at the hands of his enemies, the testimony of his life took on a power greater than before. His words reflected the integrity of all he had done for the Saints and for the cause of truth.

These words, also spoken that May day, are a powerful testimony of the purity and love of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“I have set your minds at liberty by letting you know the things of Jesus Christ. As I grow older, my heart grows tenderer for you. I am at all times willing to give up everything that is wrong — for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader.”

Sources: “On This Day in the Church,” Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Alexander L. Baugh, Robert C. Freeman and Andrew H. Hedges; “Joseph Smith, A Photobiography,” by Susan McCloud; “History of the Church,” vol. VI, p. 408 and p. 412

Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, a book of poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com. Email: susasays@broadweave.net

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