Just before I left for India, where I was going to spend a number of years as a volunteer, a friend gave me a very original and, I thought, useful farewell present. “I’m kind of worried for you,” she confided. “You’re going to a difficult country and this might come in handy.”

On the small box was an inscription: “The smallest gold coin in the world.”

I packed it away and took it with me to India, and later on to Nepal.

My friend was right—things weren’t always easy, and we often encountered hardships of all kinds, from the climate to tropical sicknesses to financial challenges. We never lacked any of our basic necessities, but we did often have to skip the extras.

My husband and I sometimes talked about selling the coin, but we’d agreed it was to be our emergency fund, and that it wouldn’t be touched unless absolutely needed. Whenever the topic came up, we always came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really such a desperate situation, and I’d put it back in my suitcase.

After eight years, we returned to Europe, and one day I walked past a numismatic store and wondered just how much my gold coin had been worth all this time. A few days later, I brought it in to be examined.

My heart and everything in me dropped when the kind clerk examined my coin and told me that it had no value besides the gold weight—and as it was “the smallest gold coin in the world,” it obviously didn’t weigh very much.

So all those years when we’d thought we had an emergency fund, were we just being naïve? A mix of disappointment and embarrassment overwhelmed me, and I actually almost threw the coin away. It seemed like that would hardly be a loss.

But later on, I realized that little coin was symbolic of our faith. We’d kept it with us all the time; we’d never lost it. And as we walked by faith, God never failed to provide for us.

We still have the coin, and it’s now a treasured memento. As far as I’m concerned, it’s actually gained value.