Handling Problems with Wisdom and Dignity

“Handling Problems with Wisdom and Dignity,” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 53

The Visiting Teacher:

Handling Problems with Wisdom and Dignity

Objective: To understand that each woman can handle her problems with wisdom and dignity by relying on the Lord.

Six inches of snow covered the ground when mob violence forced Martha Payne Jones Thomas, her husband, and their four children to leave Far West, Missouri in 1839. Martha was pregnant, expecting to deliver her baby at any time. They were waiting to cross the Missouri River when some brethren took Brother Thomas aside. Martha records in her history:

“After they had talked a few minutes, Mr. Thomas came back in a hurry, saying, ‘What do you think of our horses and wagon going back back to Far West? The brethren and sisters are all to be shot if they are not out [soon].’

“‘Well, dump the things out of the wagon by that log,’ I said.

“‘What will you do if your pains begin?’ he asked.

“‘I will do as well as Sister Wight did in Davis County, when she had her baby by a log in a snowstorm.’

“‘According to your faith, so shall it be,’ said my husband.

“Out went everything by the log. Sure enough, that night I was taken sick. I sent for Sister Margaret Smoot, and she asked me where my bedroom was. There we were in the open, by the river. ‘Oh, there is plenty of room,’ I said. ‘All we need is a bed.’”

So Sister Smoot and some of the men made a bed for Martha by the fire. Other women may not have considered themselves well off under these circumstances, but Martha said, “I have often thought a queen never enjoyed such a bedroom. It was a comfortable place, and I got better.” She delivered a healthy baby boy several days later.

Martha gave us an insight into the source of her strength when she wrote in her journal the day her husband died: “June 27, 1878. D. S. Thomas was buried. This leaves me standing in the midst of the Saints surrounded by a numerous posterity, which is a great comfort to me. At times the clouds of sorrow will hover over me. Then I call on my Father for help, and he is sure to comfort me.”

Stephanie Cluff Orison is another woman who learned to seek our Heavenly Father’s help and comfort. In 1978, Ricky T. Orison, the returned missionary she was dating, told her that he had Hodgkin’s disease. There was no way to know how long he would live. Stephanie recalls, “My mind was filled with just one question: ‘What should I do?’ One day, as I was lying on my bed, thinking, I felt a calm, peaceful feeling come over me, assuring me that whatever happened would be all right.” Rick asked her to marry him several weeks later, and Stephanie accepted without hesitation.

During the next eight years, Rick stayed in fairly good health until March 1986, when his condition deteriorated rapidly. He died six months later. Those who know Stephanie are amazed at her cheerful courage and optimism throughout Rick’s illness and afterwards. She says, “I had always known that the Lord loved and guided me. But I felt that my husband’s illness and death gave me the opportunity to show the Lord that I really believed in him, in life after death, in the eternal marriage covenant, and in all else the gospel teaches. Since Rick’s death, I have had a great feeling of peace.”

When we cannot solve our own problems, in faith we can turn to One whose wisdom and strength far exceeds our own. (See James 1:5.)

Suggestions for Visiting Teachers

  1. Discuss others you know who have handled problems well. What has given them strength during their trials?

  2. How does the message of James 1:5–6 help us solve our problems?

(See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 43–47, 138–45, 173–74 for related materials.)

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert Barrett