The Fiery Trial

I watched the flames leap out of the shattered windows of our home and dance across our melting roof. Within a few hours, our home had become a smoldering pile of debris. Forty years of personal treasures, mementos, family history records, and children’s pictures were lost. Gone were the family kitten, the baby quilt hand-sewn by my great-grandmother, our journals, and all the little things that are forgotten until they are needed. Now we were without a place to sleep or even a place to sit. We were cold and hungry. All of our winter coats, boots, gloves, and hats had been burned. Our toothbrushes, hairbrushes, eyeglasses, clothes, and everything else we take for granted were lost.

At the time of the fire, one of our daughters was in the hospital. My husband, temporarily out of work, was supporting our family by making hand-thrown pottery in our home. He lost his pottery shop and inventory—and therefore his income—in the fire.

Just when I felt things could not get worse, I had to work endless hours to complete the paperwork involved in putting our lives back in order. I spent hours on the phone with insurance agents, the fire marshal, city inspectors, doctors, hospital billing clerks, credit managers, and tax adjusters. We had many major decisions to make immediately.

Continual daily prayer, priesthood blessings, and the scriptures became my source of strength. The real turning point came when I read 1 Pet. 4:12–13: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

This scripture seemed to go straight to my soul. I felt as if Peter were speaking to me, calling me “beloved.” I knew my Father in Heaven loved me and cared about me. And I knew that I could find purpose in my life from the fire. For the first time, I began to understand the law of consecration. Things upon this earth are given for our convenience. It is the love of others, the love of Christ, and the Savior’s suffering for us that bring us real peace. Because of this scripture in 1 Peter, my crisis seemed to diminish. If Christ bled from every pore for my salvation, how could I complain about my inconveniences in life? How could I pray to my Father in Heaven with questions of “why me” after he willingly gave his son to face unspeakable pain and humiliation? Our house fire awakened me to the real necessities of life and to the meaning of consecration. The scriptures awakened me to the real purpose of life and the “exceeding joy” that awaits us all.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann

Cheryl Attaway serves as ward employment specialist in the Kansas City Third Ward, in the Kansas City Missouri Stake.