Faith was tough to choose for, in that virtually every woman in the scriptures is an exemplar of faith. In the end, I settled on these strong women whose stories reflect a very intense trust in the Lord.
The Widow of Zarephath 1 Kings 17:9-16
Like many women in the scriptures, (including many women in this list) the Widow of Zarephath goes unnamed, but this in no way diminishes her importance. She lived in a time of drought, a single mother with no means of supporting her family. One day, the food ran out and hope ran out with it. In this dire moment, she met a man – whom she recognized immediately as a holy man – who asked her for the unthinkable. He asked her to feed him first instead of her own son. Even with the promise of food thereafter, I am mesmerized by her ability to agree to his terms and use all of the ingredients she had left to make him a small cake. Through her faith in the prophet and promises of the Lord, despite not having any proof that food would arrive thereafter, she and her son did receive and endless supply of meal and oil, and thus survived the drought.
King Lamoni’s Wife Alma 19
There are not a whole lot of women mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but the ones that we do have are incredible, and King Lamoni’s wife is one of my favorites. She lived in troubling times – her kingdom was divided against itself with rebellious men stealing her husband’s sheep on a regular basis. Then a mysterious, enemy Nephite prince arrives and starts working as a servant. Matters only get worse when one day after having an extended conversation with this Nephite, her husband the king dies. We see from a later account with Lamoni’s father that it would have been easy for her to execute the man supposedly responsible for Lamoni’s death. But instead she does something interesting – she listens to her servants’ side of the story. She seeks out information from those of lower status than her. Then she ultimately decides to confer with the possible murderer of her husband. When Ammon arrives, she does not accuse. She does not rail on him. She asks him for help. When Ammon tells her that her husband is not dead, she has no one to confirm his claims – but all the same she humbly submits to his advice and believes his words. “There [had] not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites” (Alma 19:10). This queen stands as a wonderful example of the humility and grace of faith.
Hannah 1 Samuel 1, 2
In the Old Testament, those women who could not bear children carried a heavy weight of shame. Hannah was one of these women. She sought divine aid many times, but it was not until she made a promise to the Lord that she would give her son to Him that her pleas to have a child were answered. Here comes the tricky part: you finally have the son you have always wanted. You could easily make excuses to keep him. Plead with the Lord again, ask Him for more time, another child. But Hannah didn’t do this. She kept the covenant she made to the Lord, even though giving up her only child was the likely most difficult thing she had ever done. She stayed true to her word when the stakes were high, just as we should always stay true to our values and promises no matter the circumstance.
Shiphrah and Puah Exodus 1:15-21
These women are hidden gems. In their story, Pharaoh had just decided to slaughter every newborn Jewish boy in order to halt insurrection. One of his extermination methods was to recruit Jewish midwives as undercover executioners. Pharaoh demanded the following: if Shiphrah and Puah helped birth a baby boy, they were to immediately and discreetly kill the baby. For obvious reasons, Shiphrah and Puah were not too keen on this task. So they straight up lied to Pharaoh’s face in order to save these children. They explained that the Jewish women gave birth so fast that the kids were already born before they could get there in time. Under this excuse, they were able to continue to save the lives of many male infants. Shiphrah and Puah demonstrated the higher virtue that nothing is more precious than life, and it should be protected at all costs. They held true to what they knew was the most important, even when this put their own lives in danger. Dang cool ladies.
*A note on Virtue: Here is where I think Mormons get a little confused. Whenever we hear the word “virtue,” our minds immediately scream CHASTITY. This is not an inaccurate association – chastity would not exist without virtue, but I think that there is a better definition for this principle. Virtue is the purity and mastery of thought. Virtue is seeking out the good things, or the things of worth in life instead of the bad things. Call it optimism of a higher order. This isn’t just seeking out the happy things, but things that will bring us light, intelligence, and growth even in times when things seem dark. Virtue is the mastery of our mind, to focus on and seek out the good.
Mary and Martha Luke 10:38-42
You might be thinking Mary and Martha? That is a long shot… but hear me out.
So Jesus comes to chill out at Mary and Martha’s place. These sisters have very different reactions to the Savior’s arrival. Martha goes straight into service mode, clearing the house and making food. Mary, on the other hand, sits at Christ’s feet and listens to Him teaching. At some point, Martha gets a bit miffed that she is the only one doing anything good and helpful to prepare the house, and so she tells Jesus to make Mary help her. Jesus, at this point, gently chides Martha for not seeing the good in what Mary was doing. Mary was putting aside worldly things for a moment to hear the gospel. Don’t get me wrong – Martha was doing good in her own form of service for the Savior. But instead of focusing on the negative thoughts against her sister, Martha should have seen the merits of Mary’s actions. In the same way, we need to have virtue in our minds by not focusing on the negative aspects of people’s actions or the circumstances in our lives but instead choose to see the silver lining. Try to find the lesson, the light in the darkness. In doing so, our thoughts become pure, and our hearts are filled with joy.
Emma D&C 25:2, 10
In keeping with our definition of virtue, I would say that Emma Smith is the woman who exemplifies virtue in our modern times. Of all women in the scriptures, she is the one whom we know the most about. We know she lived through some of the most horrible trials imaginable. Early on, the Lord gave her a bit of advice that would serve her throughout her life. “A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion… And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.” Even in dark times, Emma followed this counsel. She would manage to keep her head up and focus on the joy that comes with living the gospel despite the horrors that surrounded her. There could have been so many moments when she could have succumbed to the darkness – but she did not. She held her ground and chose to look to the light of Christ instead.
Esther Esther 4:14-16
This woman is incredible. She grew up as the persecuted minority in her besieged homeland. Miraculous circumstances brought her into the court and favor of the king, and thus into a position to save her people, the Jews, from being destroyed by royal decree. Despite the danger of the situation before her, Esther entered the court of the king to beg for her people’s lives. No doubt that Esther was preserved for “such a time as this” – to save her people. God needed her at this very moment to save hundreds of thousands of His other sons and daughters. Esther’s story shows us that one person has infinite worth, for one person can save an entire nation. We may not ever be in circumstances quite like Esther, but we do have the power to have an enormous influence on the world around us. We are precious to our Father, He knows our potential, and He will use us where He sees fit to make the biggest difference.
Woman at the Well John 4:5-42
A Samaritan. An adulteress. A woman. Any other Jewish man would have ignored or even berated her. But not the Savior. As the woman drew water at a well, Christ took time to talk to her and teach her as if she were an equal. Because Christ showed her that she had value and taught her truth, she believed and was able to spread the good word to help convert many others. Through her story, we learn that no matter our circumstances, background, or past mistakes, we are all loved individually by our Father in Heaven and His Son. No sin can bar us from their love. Through Christ, we can overcome any setback and we can all make a difference.
Abigail 1 Samuel 25
Picture this: you just found out that jerk of a husband mouthed off at the warrior king who now is going to take his armies and destroy your land and every living thing on it. Gulp. Poor Abigail was stuck in this situation – but she didn’t idly stand by sulking and awaiting her doom. She took matters into her own hands. Not knowing if King David would listen to her or kill her (or if her awful husband would find out and stop her/kill her, he was a big jerk), Abigail prepared a large peace offering and went to David’s camp by herself to fix the problem. In humility, she begged for the lives of her household, taking the blame of her husband’s insult upon her own shoulders. David’s heart was softened and he spared their lives – all because Abigail chose to take action. She is and Old Testament type for Christ, and a great example of what can happen when we use our agency to act and not be acted upon.
Woman With the Issue of Blood Mark 5:25-34
This was a woman of faith and action. In the first century, those with her kind of blood condition were ostracized and considered unclean. For 12 years, she did everything she could to find healing, paying various physicians until her money ran out, but to no avail. She was forced to live on the streets and beg. Then she overheard that the Healer Messiah was coming down her street. Now, when we see video depictions of this New Testament tale, we often see the woman sitting idly at the side of the road who just reaches out and lightly touches Jesus’ robes. The Mark account tells us otherwise. Knowing full well how she could be harshly punished for going into a crowd, let alone purposefully touching people in her uncleanliness, she forced her way through the mob, reached, and just grazed the hem of Christ’s robe as she fell to the ground. Because of her act of faith, she was instantly healed. She chose to believe in Christ’s power. She acted, even though the stakes were high. And because she did, she was made whole. Let’s take a note from this woman – we must take faithful action if we wish to see results. When we do, God will make up the rest.
In the wake of recent events *coughelectioncough*, people everywhere (the left and the right alike) are questioning the future – whether we can break past the rampant hatred in our current society. Honestly, I have, too. Particularly yesterday afternoon.
It had not been a good day. In addition to the negative tone of things happening in the world: I missed an appointment, realized that I had 8+ essays due in the next three weeks on top of all other homework, and lost my favorite button on my backpack. In short, I felt I had a sufficient list of things to whine about. Which is exactly what I did. Continue reading
It has been a while, folks! Sorry about that. Been trying to get back into the swing of things after coming home from my mission. It has been a ride and a half, but now things are all settled and I am back at school.
My first week in my YSA ward, I was asked to give a talk on discipleship. And for the life of me, I could not think of any ideas. Eventually, after lots of searching and mulling things over, I had a tiny thought…
You remember in middle school, when you were obsessed with that one thing – that band, that book series, that TV show, that movie – and you had t-shirts, lavishly decorated binders that celebrated that thing you loved so much. Your life revolved around that thing – you were a fanatic, you were enthusiastic, and fired up. You would defend it to the death. Continue reading