Strong family relationships can help us weather storms.
Malachi wrote that, in the troubling times preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Elijah the prophet would return to the earth, “and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). This prophecy was so important that Jesus Christ recited it to the Nephites during His visit to the American continent (3 Nephi 25:6), and Moroni quoted it during his visit to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823. Moroni’s version of the prophecy was slightly different: “He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (Joseph Smith—History 1:39, Doctrine and Covenants 2:2).
This prophecy has many implications, global and personal. Today, I’m thinking about a personal application: God wants us to strengthen relationships with family members, because He knows those relationships will help us in turbulent times.
After quoting this prophecy to Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni instructed him go tell his father what he had seen and heard (Joseph Smith—History 1:49). His mother recalled that the angel had to give this instruction more than once:
“Why did you not tell your father what I told you?”
Joseph said he was afraid his father would not believe him.
“He will,” said the angel, “believe every word you say to him.”Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, page 11, bk. 3, spelling and punctuation normalized
As predicted by the angel, Joseph’s father was supportive: “He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger” (Joseph Smith—History 1:50).
If his mother’s account is accurate, I think Joseph’s hesitance to tell his father is understandable. The message from the angel was so incredible that he must have wondered if anyone would believe him. I’m impressed with his father’s immediate support and approval. With all of the persecution Joseph had endured, it must have been a great comfort to have a father who trusted him.
By following this instruction from the angel and sharing his experience, Joseph strengthened his relationship with his father. As Elder David A. Bednar has pointed out, some of the actions that we need to take to strengthen relationships are difficult and require courage:
Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed….
Each of us already knows we should bear testimony to the people we love the most. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.“More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” General Conference, October 2009, italics added
Today, I will turn my heart to members of my family. I will express love to my parents and to my children, and I will share spiritual experiences with them. I will remember that those relationships are vital for me and for them, particularly as we pass through challenging times.