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Reader Voices: Unemployment and the Atonement

By Kendal Brian Hunter

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 26 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Dozens of job seekers line up to enter a National Career Fair, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in New York. The number of people seeking unemployment aid stayed at a four-year low last week, the latest evidence that layoffs are low and the job market is slowly healing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Associated Press

His eyes were near tears. His voice wavered. He had been unemployed for some time. And, as the ward employment specialist, I was there to help him.

Today was a down day. He looked at me. "You got to give me hope." he plead.

I sighed and told him, "I can't give you hope. That's beyond my power."

I paused. At the end of the month I was moving and this would be our last visit. I wanted to make it good. But I also wanted to be realistic. He was a good person, but had trouble keeping the commitments. Both he and I were feeling frustrated. And the employment situation was also affecting his marriage.

So what could I say? To give him a "theological Twinkie" would not help (see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "'A Teacher Come from God'," Ensign, May 1998, page 25). And as a mere mortal — even one holding the priesthood and operating under the direction of the bishop — I had limitations.

"The Atonement," I finally said. "The Atonement is the greatest success story in eternity."

Job-hunting is aggravating. You put in so much work, and in return, you get more "Thank you, no's" that you would like. It can sap the strength of the best of us.

So where do we get the power to find jobs? The same place where we get all our power: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Article of Faith 4).

The Lectures on Faith teach that faith is principle of "action" and "power," not only "spiritually," but also "temporally" (Lectures on Faith 1:12-13). In the ultimate sense, faith is "the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things" (Lectures on Faith 1:24). Faith empowers us to do mighty things in the temporal realm, including job-hunting.

But if we don't have that level of faith, then what?

President John Taylor, the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught, "A man, as a man, could arrive at all the dignity that a man was capable of obtaining or receiving; but it needed a God to raise him to the dignity of a God" (see "The Mediation and Atonement," 1882, page 145). Read between the lines of that quote: the Atonement transforms. It empowers us to do what we need to do, not only spiritually, but also temporally. It can, if we exercise faith, empower us to find jobs.

In the New Testament, Peter lists virtues that we must add to our faith in Christ: diligence, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (2 Peter 1:5-7; c.f. Doctrine and Covenants 4:6). These virtues are essential not only in Christian living, but also in Christian job-hunting. As we exercise faith, and apply the Atonement, we become born again, "a new creature" in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Mosiah 27:26). We become people of faith.

Think of the powerful spirit that attends righteous people.

Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807-1857) explained:

"In the presence of such persons one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit.

"No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other in person or character; no matter if they have never spoken to each other, each will be apt to remark in his own mind, and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview, 'O what an atmosphere encircles that stranger! How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in his presence! What confidence and sympathy he inspired! His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance than a thousand written recommendations or introductory letters.' Such is the gift of the Holy Spirit …" ("Key to the Science of Theology," 5th ed [1893], page 97; paragraphing altered).

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