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The Lord taught me this concept before I even started reading this chapter. I was having a conversation with a friend recently about some doubts she’s been having around her beliefs. While sometimes, these conversations have a tendency to wear on me, I actually walked away from this conversation immensely uplifted but with new questions.
I think I’ve always had this question in the back of my mind but never formulated it. I’m going to do my best to express this question so bear with me.
There are two sides to this question that I ask.
Firstly, why is it so important that we should walk by faith? Honestly and truly, why is it so crucial? Why can’t the Lord run His church directly on earth? Then we could simply determine whether we wanted to follow Him or not, and isn’t that what He’s trying to find out?
As I pondered this question, I came to the conclusion that this earth life is about more than just testing whether we want to follow the Lord. It’s also about growing to become like the Lord. Sure, the Lord could appear and tell us how it is, but walking by faith enables a process of growth. We could have grown either way, but there is so much more possibility of growth when there is the struggle of faith. So that’s one reason why the Lord decided to choose the route of faith for us.
Secondly, despite my understanding of why the Lord chose faith, faith has always seemed a little…arbitrary to me. Let me explain.
There are many different ways to look at faith. One of the ways I’ve been learning about recently centers on perspective. Let me give you a couple of examples.
A mother feels like she needs to go and check on her baby. She walks in to find that she’s there right on time and saves the baby from some disaster.
Person A might look at this scenario and feel as though mom simply got lucky. Person B might look at this scenario and see the hand of God.
Second scenario. The church changes its policy surrounding polygamy (as in the past when the prophet said polygamy should no longer be a thing, not the church changing it in the future).
Person A might look at this and scoff at the pretended prophet. The prophet abandoned their beliefs right when opposition was at its highest from the government, and it was so convenient that the Lord decided to reveal the change in policy right at this time. Person B might look at the situation and see a loving Heavenly Father who recognized that His children wouldn’t be able to continue building the kingdom if all of their assets were seized and the men were placed in jail. Considering the fact that the Lord allows for the agency of man, the Lord made the decision to change the policy.
Do you understand what I mean by the fact that faith can be a literal choice of perspective? There are many ways to look at different situations, and to look with faith is a decision.
Circling back to the idea that faith has always seemed arbitrary to me, I asked the Lord how He could expect His children to choose the perspective of faith. Let me elaborate further.
We can’t prove there is a loving Heavenly Father. We can’t prove that the church is His kingdom on earth. I’ve watched people become softer and more Christlike within the church, and I’ve watched people become more bitter within the church. I’ve watched people become incredible human beings with and without the church. I’ve watched people face tremendous trials and heartache within and without the church. There have been leaders in the church who have done tremendous good and leaders in the church who have done harm. So why should I choose faith? If it’s not really guaranteed to make my life better or guaranteed to make me a better person, why would I choose to see the world through the lens of a loving Heavenly Father who directs a prophet?
Now let me be clear as I speak about these things. As I ask these questions, they’re sincere. They may sound full of doubt, but I do have a testimony. I have chosen the perspective of faith, and I believe I have felt the Lord’s hand in my life. As I pondered and pondered, I was asking these questions directly to the Lord to try and find answers rather than shouting up at Him in frustration. I wanted Him to help me better understand faith.
I feel like there are many of us who have, at one point or another, asked, what if I’m just fooling myself? What if this is just what I was raised with and I’m too scared to let go of it? What if this is simply how I was trained to look at things in comparison to looking at it through a clear lens? What if all these good feelings I’ve experienced are nothing more than associations with positive memories?
Am I simply supposed to keep choosing to look at things with faith and just hope I’m not fooling myself?
Hope and the Light of Christ
As I was pondering and as I came to that last question, the thought of a verse filled my mind. Funny enough, all of this occurred before I had even read Moroni 10 this week and yet, the verse that came to my mind is in Moroni 10.
Moroni 10:20 Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.
This is also a verse that I’ve questioned before. If there’s faith, there is also charity. I’ve always had a difficult time distinguishing between faith and hope. I would read the verse and feel like there were slight variations but mostly brought out the same traits in people. But I realized a slight difference this time as I reflected on my last question.
“Am I simply supposed to keep choosing to look at things with faith and just hope I’m not fooling myself?”
And there it is. Hope.
It is true that we cannot prove the church is true. It is true that the people have found solace in the church, and it is also true that people have found heartache in the church.
And yet, as you come to understand the doctrine, you can’t help but hope it’s true. Hope and faith come together. The fact that there is a Heavenly Father who adores us and does everything for our good, the idea that He can make up for any wrong that has happened to us (whether that wrong occurred at the hand of a random person or a person within the church), the idea that there is a reason for all of these things that are occurring…these are things we can hope to be true.
If you’ve lost a child, you hope to be reunited with them. If you experience same-sex attraction, you hope that Heavenly Father can live up to His promises of ultimate happiness. If you were born to excruciating circumstances, you hope that it will all be made up to you.
And it is this hope that inspires us to try the perspective of faith. Maybe it’s true. Maybe this really is Heavenly Father. Maybe despite mistakes, Heavenly Father really is leading His church towards perfection, it’s just taking a while to get there.
This idea of hope, combined with the light of Christ that is given to every man at birth, means that Heavenly Father choose the route of faith in order to enable our growth. It means that He can nurture this faith until it looks a lot less like faith and a whole lot more like knowledge. As we continually nourish that seed of faith, as we choose to look at our lives in faith, we find something more than faith.
My Own Perspective
I have chosen a perspective of faith. I chose this perspective originally because I was raised in it. However, I choose this perspective now because I’ve had many experiences that have helped me decide that there is a loving Heavenly Father guiding me. I don’t know everything, but I do feel and believe that Heavenly Father has been guiding my life. My testimony is somewhere on the spectrum between faith and knowledge.
The world would have us believe we’re foolish for choosing faith. As we hope that there’s more than just this world, and as we start to exercise faith, I testify and believe that we can find more than just faith. We eventually find true knowledge.