In a recent post, I discussed how my mother took on a Christlike role in repairing something I had broken, and, in the process, brought peace to me. Another story of the role of a parent came to mind recently.
When Joseph Smith, the first prophet called by the Lord in modern times, was a boy of only seven years, he suffered typhoid fever. The illness caused an infection in the bone of one of his legs.
Eventually, Dr. Nathan Smith, founder of Dartmouth Medical College, tended to Joseph after weeks of intense pain. Dr. Smith wanted to attempt a surgery he had developed but that was nowhere near standard practice, and the Smiths agreed. Dr. Smith would have to cut through the flesh of Joseph’s leg and remove infected pieces of bone. Joseph refused alcohol to numb the pain. He required only that his father hold him and that his mother leave the room.
The trust that this boy held for his father, Joseph Sr., is admirable, to put it mildly. He gained strength and fortitude from his farmer father’s arms wrapped about him.
At different times, I have been in the emergency room with two of my children when they had heart-wrenching experiences. One of them I feared I would lose that day. The other required anesthesia for a procedure that ended up taking two hours. I can’t imagine what it took for Joseph Sr. to sit there with his son through excruciating, unfiltered pain. I would be falling apart, at least inside.
As he neared the end of his life, the ancient Israelite prophet Lehi told his offspring that “the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). Lehi had been through some difficult times—persecution from those he was called by God to preach to, thousands of miles of travel, nearly suffering starvation, trying to teach and love rebellious sons who harbored murderous desires.
During Joseph’s surgery, he knew he could draw the power to endure from his father, whose arms encircled him. Do I have that kind of trust in Christ to be with me through my pain and trouble, to weep with me and understand me, and to offer His power so I can endure well?
I think that Dr. Smith also played a Christlike role in this story. Only one person in New England at the time could save Joseph’s leg along with his life. That surgeon, that healer, came and worked with success on Joseph’s infirmity, though the work was difficult for the patient. Similarly, only One can bring us real healing even though it may not be easy to get there.
I hope these thoughts can stay with us this Christmas, that Jesus Christ wishes to encircle us in His arms and bring us strength and healing.
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Information from “Joseph Smith’s Leg Surgery”
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