“Heavenly Father’s Love,” Ensign, Sept. 2013, 78
Heavenly Father’s Love
Anna Nikiticheva, Russia
Some time ago our friends asked if their son, John, and his girlfriend could stay at our place for a weeklong visit. John is less active, and his girlfriend is not a member of the Church. We let her have our son’s room and gave John a couch in the living room.
Before they arrived, we prayed to Heavenly Father, asking how we should present ourselves to them—as teachers, parents, or simply friends? The answer came that we needed to follow the promptings of the Spirit and help them spiritually.
Every evening my husband, son, and I sit down to study the scriptures. On the first evening with our guests, we felt that we should not invite them to study with us. But the next evening before scripture study, John shyly knocked on our door and said, “Mary is afraid to ask, but she would like to know if we can join you.”
We swung open the door, invited them in, and began studying the Book of Mormon together. Mary had never read scriptures before and did not know whether she believed in God. She admitted that when she came to our home, she had been afraid we might make her take part in something religious she did not understand.
To make Mary feel comfortable, my husband told her about the plan of salvation, the Savior Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith’s First Vision, and the Book of Mormon. She talked with us until midnight.
The next day, John and Mary joined us for a discussion with the missionaries. I will never forget the spirit that filled the room. After a simple discussion, we talked about the nature of our Heavenly Father. Then Mary asked why God allows suffering if He loves us, a question I had pondered for a long time.
Several days earlier I had received a letter from a friend who had miscarried her third child, so Mary’s question touched my heart. I testified that times of happiness and joy occasionally cannot teach us as deeply and eternally as times of personal tragedy. I told Mary that grief can temper us just as fire tempers iron. If we remain true to God while passing through trials, our faith will grow.
It was an unforgettable discussion. Afterward we sat silently while the Spirit testified of our Heavenly Father’s love. When Mary looked up, her eyes were bright and full of tears.
I do not know what will happen in the coming years, but I know for certain that the understanding I saw in Mary’s eyes that day will help her throughout her life and may help lead her to her Heavenly Father.