When challenges or heartbreaks occur in their lives, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called Mormons, usually read from the scriptures to find direction and solace.
I was recently terminated from my employment—where I had worked for thirteen years—and consequently suffered from bouts of loss, embarrassment, heartache, discouragement, anger, resentment, fear, and worry for my future. At times these feelings were overwhelming and paralyzing.
Reading the scriptures, particularly Psalms and the Book of Mormon, has given me the direction, solace, and courage I have hoped for.
Two years ago I set a goal for myself to read the Old Testament in the Bible. The same month that I lost my job, I had progressed through the book of Job and had started reading the book of Psalms. I thought this was more than coincidental, because I felt comfort while reading words that reflected my feelings about my current situation, such as “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psalm 4:1), “Fearlfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. . . . As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me” (Psalm 55:5, 16), “In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalm 57:1), and “Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily” (Psalm 69:17). I prayed to Heavenly Father in my own words of pleading for his help to find a new job that met my family’s needs. Sometimes, however, I felt helpless, hopeless, and inadequate to accomplish this.
Latter-day Saints also turn to the Book of Mormon for guidance and insight. “The Book of Mormon is more than just a history book. It is a book of healing and comfort—of guidance and direction that leads us to Jesus Christ—it is literally the word of God.” (See the article “Answers for life.”)
After finishing the book of Psalms, I began reading a personal meditation on the book of Psalms.1 While reading the author’s thoughts on Psalm 94:18, I was reminded of a favorite scripture from the Book of Mormon. In the history, a man named Alma, and his followers, have been conquered and forced to be subjects to a new king. Alma and his people were given “heavy burdens upon their backs” and physically abused. (See Mosiah 21.) They were not allowed to pray for God’s help and were threatened with death if they attempted it. They did not pray vocally, but they “poured out their hearts” to God asking for relief from their afflictions (see Mosiah 24:10–12). God heard their prayers and answered that he would “ease the burdens” placed on them by strengthening them so that they can “bear up their burdens with ease” (Mosiah 24:13–15).
Reading this passage in the Book of Mormon was like running into an dear old friend. I have read the Book of Mormon virtually every year of my adult life and I have experienced many occasions when I felt the weight of the challenges I was facing. During almost every adversity that I have experienced, I have found that Heavenly Father helped me get through the challenge rather than get out of the challenge. In other words, I have felt strengthened or enabled to endure, learn, and grow from my hardships.
Through prayer during my difficulties, I have felt closer to Heavenly Father and have understood that he is interested in me and what is important to me.
At this moment, I have not found a new job; but I am not worried. Through my prayers to Heavenly Father, and by reading accounts in the Bible and the Book of Mormon about his tender care of his children, my feelings of loss, embarrassment, heartache, discouragement, anger, resentment, fear, and worry for my future don’t afflict me much. Like the people of Alma, I feel able to “submit cheerfully, and with patience” to the will of the Lord (Mosiah 24:5). Eventually, God provided a way for Alma and his people to escape their difficult circumstances (see Mosiah 24:16–25). I start each day with hope and confidence that I will find a job that will provide me and my family with what we need.
This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Paula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.
1. Jeffrey R. Holland, For Times of Trouble: Spiritual Solace from the Psalms (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012).