By Teresa Hirst
My friend Camille stood behind the clear glass window of our front entry doors. As soon as I saw her with a grocery bag I knew I shouldn’t have opened my mouth and revealed my need.
In church the day before, I had taught the story of the widow of Zarephath feeding Elijah the prophet. Her faith in the Lord and the words of a prophet, knowing this serving of food was the last in the house, sustained her and her son through a time of famine. (See 1 Kings 17.)
The Holy Ghost had shown me—in the middle of teaching this lesson—the clear need to develop this faith myself and apply it to our financial challenge. I had masked my emotional reaction to that message with a lighthearted remark to the class about taking the last bottle of oil from our food storage that very week.
Now, my friend brought what I presumed was a large bag of food at my front door, and I didn’t want to open it.
Economic challenges, like many trials, bring internal conflict from the external situation. The ones typical to financial struggle include but are not limited to embarrassment, fear, feelings of failure, worry about how to meet daily needs, stress from making do or doing without, sensitivity about how others might judge the situation, pressure to fix the problem, loss of identity, emotional pain from the friction in family relationships, and loneliness.
Why didn’t I want to open the door? The conflict inside me would inevitably tumble out now that she knew we were hurting. I didn’t want to be defined by the mess inside myself. I was a woman of faith, wasn’t I?
Although I’ve been a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a young adult I came to know for myself that our Eternal Father exists. Through prayers of faith to Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, I felt the power of the Savior’s atonement closing the spiritual distance. The understanding that they know me individually and will guide and help me motivated and increased my faith into adulthood and greater spiritual maturity.
More than twenty years later, however, in this particular economic trial, I didn’t feel strong. Faith hadn’t overcome the negative effects of this trial like I thought it should—and that created the biggest conflict of all. For very reason I didn’t want to open the door to my friend, but I did.
Truly meeting this trial with faith required that I humbly recognize that the source of these negative feelings within me—these internal conflicts—came from my reaction to the circumstances themselves.
In reality, I had never stopped placing my faith in Jesus Christ. I had continued to study, learn, and live His gospel. I believe that as a result of this ongoing exercise of faith, the Holy Ghost showed me ideas of how to increase my faith in some more specific ways.
In my case, it meant overcoming those negative feelings or negative reactions associated with the trial. When I felt them, I learned to neither suppress them nor magnify them. Instead, in the very moment, I tried to acknowledge them and then replace them with positive reminders of my individual, personal faith in Jesus Christ such as spiritual witnesses, tender mercies, love given and received, and answers to prayers.
I learned to use my agency to choose to remember Him.
As a result, I received the comfort that came from divine sources directly to my heart. I also only opened a door to the service, love, and comfort others around me could bring.
Through simple faith, applied over and over, like the widow of Zarephath, He sustained us through our drought.
Watch this dramatazation of the story of the widow of Zarephath on lds.org: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-03-071-elijah-and-the-widow-of-zarephath?lang=eng
Teresa Hirst was born in Texas and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She received a BA in communications from Brigham Young University in 1994. Today, she observes and tells insightful stories—both nonfiction and fiction—that characterize our emotional experience with life. She is the author of Twelve Stones to Remember Him: Building Memorials of Faith from Financial Crisis. She lives in Minnesota with her family where she volunteers in Church public affairs in her area. Read more of Teresa’s reflections on life and faith on her blog at www.teresahirst.com/blog