There are two general types of money that we discussed in my Economics class earlier this semester. The first is known as commodity money. It was the most primitive form of money used by our oldest ancestors. It consists of items such as metals, beads, or anything else which serves a purpose other than being used for trade (buying and selling). Commodity money is still around today. One example we discussed in class is the use of cigarettes in prison. Though they clearly have another purpose for which they were designed, many prisoners collect and trade cigarettes for other items they desire. The second type of money is known as fiat money. This is the currency we are most familiar with. It is made up of paper or coins with no real intrinsic value. Fiat money gains its worth through government stipulation which states the value that members of the economy must give each unit of currency.
In our modern economy, many individuals are concerned about fiat money being able to retain its value. They may foresee a failure of the central banking system, or anticipate the regression of the domestic economy compared to foreign markets. Some of these individuals, as a result, choose to invest in gold rather than in other stock market options, because of the tendency of gold to retain its value as a form of commodity money. Gold is a precious metal of considerable worth due to its limited availability, and has been a stable investment for many, many years.
In Sunday School yesterday, we read the First Epistle General of Peter. The 7th verse of the 1st chapter states:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ
I was greatly struck by this verse as I considered its content. The wording was very interesting to me, first of all. I noticed that it says the trial of our faith is more precious than gold, not our faith alone. Moroni explains in Ether 12:6 that “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” It appears that this witness, which comes as a result of endurance and perseverance, is what will lead us to find praise and honor and glory at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This idea seems to tie in with another passage that I find inspiring:
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.James 1:12
Another thing I like about the scripture in 1 Peter is that it clarifies that our faith will be tried with fire. This brings a few different things to mind. The first is the obvious intensity associated with fire and burning. In sciences such as chemistry, fire is often used as a catalyst. The heat it produces enables chemical reactions to occur where they otherwise wouldn’t, due to environmental conditions and characteristics of the reactants. In that way, you could say that fire stimulates progress, by encouraging movement where otherwise there would exist only complacency.
On the other hand, fire is often also associated with cleansing and purification (such as baptism by fire, or by the spirit). One aspect of being tried with fire, which we talked about in class, is the analogy of the refiner’s fire. There is a story I found online a few years ago about a woman who attended a class where they discussed this metaphor. She volunteered to find out about the process of refining silver and report back to the class. She made an appointment to go and watch a silversmith while he worked. As she watched, she asked him questions about the process. She noted that he held the silver in the very center of the flame. This, the silversmith said, was because that was the hottest part of the fire, and the intense heat was needed to burn away all the impurities. The woman asked if it was required for the man to stay and watch the silver the whole time. His response was yes, because if the silver was left in the flame a moment too long, the precious metal would be ruined. The woman then asked how he could tell it was done, to prevent that from happening. The silversmith responded “that’s easy: when I see my image in it.” This parable has been repeated throughout the church to show how the Lord is continually aware of us and the trials that we are enduring. He holds us in the hottest part of the flame, not a moment too long, but exactly long enough to see his image reflected in us.
The thing that struck me the most about 1 Peter 1:7, though, is the statement that our trial of faith is much more precious than gold. I’d heard this statement before, but it never touched me as deeply before as it did during class yesterday. It may be because of the knowledge I’ve gained from my Economics class, or it may just be that I was in a more spiritually prepared state, but either way, I was incredibly impressed by the idea. How often do we complain about our trials? We complain to friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers, about the difficulties we are facing or the wrongs that have been done to us by others (because it is very rarely ever our fault in our eyes). How often do we resent the Lord for the situations we find ourselves in, especially when we’ve been “doing everything right”? Sometimes our distaste isn’t even on our own behalf. I know I tend to think very negatively and wonder why others that I see are having continual trials, when all they want is to follow the Lord. It seems like those are the ones who deserve to be blessed with ease, joy, and success. In my head, I’ve always known that trials are a blessing. It’s one of those principles which are taught over and over every year throughout the primary and youth programs of the church. It never truly entered my heart, though, until I began pondering this scripture.
The trial of our faith is more precious than gold.
Many people have invested in gold because of its economic stability, and its ability to retain its value over a long period of time. Fewer and fewer people, though, are choosing to invest in true faith, despite the fact that it has a much higher and much longer-lasting value. Many begin the journey, but do not persevere through the trials to receive a witness. That is what is required of us, though, if we are to gain the blessing of meeting our Savior with praise, honor, and glory, rather than shame, misery, and despair.
This is a week of Thanksgiving in America. This is the time when we stop and look around and think of all that we’ve been blessed with. As this week begins, I think of all that the Lord has given me. I have an amazing family, which I have been sealed to for time and all eternity. I have loving parents who taught me to love the Lord, to love others unconditionally, to love learning and music, and to do what is necessary to achieve the things I want in life. I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend Brigham Young University, a choice which completely transformed my life and my view of the world and the Gospel. I have been blessed with an incredible boyfriend and superb friends who help me to and make me want to be better. I cannot ever fully express the gratitude I feel for all that I have been given. This week, though, more than anything, I am grateful for the trials and difficulties I have faced in my life, and the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has resulted from those adversities.
I pray that I can have the strength and commitment to make the most of this investment as it continues to develop throughout my life.