How Do Believers Remain Faithful While Having Doubts? (To Those Who Doubt, Part 5)

By Michael T.

I and others in the Mormon faith believe that it was in the doubts, religious divisions, and uncertainties—and, ultimately, in the faith of a young boy named Joseph Smith—that the marvelous revelations of God, his Son, their existence, and character occurred in modern times.  Those questions of doubt, supported by faith, resulted in what we call the Restoration of the Gospel.

Moreover, isn’t it interesting that many of the great revelations of this dispensation and Restoration came as answers to questions, unresolved problems, or a lack of knowledge or certainty?

We are reminded that one of the great questions of the Book of Mormon comes from the Prophet Alma.  He asks if after having God’s power and influence manifest in our lives: “can you feel so now?”  (Alma 5:26)

Even if we may have felt some spiritual change or confirmation in the past, Alma reminds us that it is not sufficient.  We must examine our lives.  We must again seek and find that revelation and that newness in our spiritual lives.

We are foreigners seeking to return home

In my own personal pursuit of truth, knowledge, and testimony, I have come to believe in the reality and divinity of the admonition to “endure to the end.”  We are truly “strangers and pilgrims upon the earth” (Hebrews 11:13; Doctrine and Covenants 45:13), seeking for greater things (spiritual truth and knowledge) in a land in which we are actually foreigners—in a fallen, telestial world.

I also believe in that most fundamental of Book of Mormon narratives, shared by Nephi and his father, Lehi, of the iron rod.  While we have been given the rod to hold on to, it is through mists of darkness we must go (1 Nephi 12:17).  And remember how that narrative ends: “the came and caught hold of the end of the iron rod; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree” (1 Nephi 8:30, italics added).

We are separated from the presence of God, but seek to return to him. Remember:

  • •Ultimately, this is a period of probation and testing. Without doubt, uncertainty, ambiguity, and contradiction, the process of being tested and tried could not occur.
  • Within the larger Plan of Salvation, I believe that there are individual plans of salvation, one tailored to you by a loving Father in Heaven. There is a path for you—though few of those life paths are linear and they all have ups and downs, spiritual and otherwise.
  • We must remember one of the primary admonitions of the Book of Mormon:  To beware of pride and to remember the pitfalls facing the wise and learned (See 1 Nephi 11:35-36 and 2 Nephi 28:15).
  • Remember what Christ has promised to us: that as we faithfully practice his doctrine, we shall come to know that it is of him.  In our age and time, we typically assume that we can approach most things the other way around—knowing something is true before we even try it and apply it in our lives.
  • We have been given a divine promise that we can know the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost—but we have to open ourselves to that means, method of communication, and spiritual channel.
  • We must accept doubt, ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradiction as part of our mortal experience.  While we are a community of strong faith and belief, don’t let your perception of others’ certainty—expressed or assumed—aggravate your uncertainty and make you feel as though you do not measure up.
  • Ultimately, life and our probation are about faith and endurance, about our pressing forward with a steadfast faith in Christ (See 2 Nephi 31).
  • Ultimately, it’s OK that perhaps you do not know about God or the truth of all of the claims of the Restored Gospel “beyond a shadow of a doubt” and “with every fiber of your being,” as is sometimes said in our culture.  Consider this life a spiritual journey and pilgrimage, not a destination.
  • Be mindful that you are not alone or unique in having doubts: we all have them—though we may express or deal with them in different ways.
  • We must be aware of justifying ourselves from sin because of doubts or uncertainties we might have.  Sin looks for convenient excuses and Satan often uses sin and transgression to make us justify our doubts or questions and to “rely on the arm of flesh.” Rather, we must seek for, and be worthy of, the Holy Ghost.
  • If you’ve made mistakes—be humble, repent, and move on with your life and do all that you can to draw near to God again.

It is my testimony that God lives.  He is our Father.  He is the source of all knowledge and truth.  I believe that we can come to know him and the truth of his gospel and of its restoration in the last days.

It is through doubt and uncertainty that we can be drawn toward him and to more fervently seek his revelation in the patterns and processes by which he has ordained for his children to come to greater light and knowledge.

 

Part of the “To Those Who Doubt” series. Read the series’ other posts here:

Part 1: Do Believers Doubt?

Part 2: What is Faith?

Part 3: How can I Know What is True?

Part 4: What Causes Doubt and How Can I Overcome It?

Part 6: Does God Help Those Who Doubt?

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