Discuss Hebrews 11:1 and Alma 32:21
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. Alma 32:21
When Faith is a brand new baby, the world is gentle. Sweet simple prayers receive clear answers, small miracles are witnessed, and scripture study results in warm feelings. These wonderful early experiences nourish the baby faith and give it strength for the trials that will surely come. As faith gains experience, the adversary tries to kill it. Uncertainty threatens, as intellect calls out for evidence. Temptations ensnare and damage faith. Finding courage, the young faith finds hope, as imperfect knowledge; as it moves into maturity.
Grown to maturity, faith will endure yet even more strident buffetings of harsh trials. For most, possessing a mature faith is not an easy thing. Some will fall by the wayside worn down by the travails of earthy existence. All will endure a season of struggle with faith. Struggle can take on the form of death, betrayal, loss, or despair. Sorrow pushes faith into the dark realm of doubt.
Mortals tenaciously cling to what is familiar. We resist change because it will mean facing the fear of the unknown. We struggle with God (Genesis 32:24-32) because we resist change of the familiar. If we have the courage to let go of our perceptions of what we imagine our life is supposed to be, and meekly allow God to show His will for us, we will intimately find His warm embrace in the struggle. God will ask us to change our own perceptions and expectations, put our trust in Him falling into the unknown of God’s arms. He will then show us our path. In doing so, we will be able to receive the strong faith we need to endure the buffetings of mortal life. Putting our unconditional faith in His will, gives us the power we need to endure this life. In order for this miracle to occur, we need to have the courage to Let God be God. And. Just. Let. Go.
I’ve come around to the idea that there is not a single unequivocal use of “faith” in the scriptures. I used to think there was but now I think it’s just an other word which people use in similar, yet in subtly important ways differently. Heb 11 and Alma 32 are, to me, an example of htis.
Clark-Please expound on what you have said. For me, faith is my trust in God. He holds my life in His hands.
I believe that faith is in the doing, not in the believing, as James pointed out. Mere “mental assent” is not faith.
Joanna, when doubts come along I keep on harking back to two things: 1)those incredible feelings of Spirit during special moments in my life and 2)how much better my life has gotten since my baptism. Those two things help my faith overcome all concerns.
Mmmm…that sounds like me hoping for a good breakfast, with lots of bacon. 😉
I love both scriptures and I especially love the cartoon in today’s post. I am also an avowed math atheist. Word problems are the work of the Devil, I tell you!!
So true Bookslinger #3 and you are a great example of doing what God has asked us all to do.
Geoff #4-Exactly we all need those memories to carry us through low times.
I did not want to project my own experiences into my post. I wanted to keep it broad enough so everyone could see their own unique set of faith experiences.
To date I have had three faith rockers. My first was when we lost Baby Jake. The second, probably the most damaging, was “wolves wrapped in sheep’s clothing”.
Third was this last summer when Mike died suddenly. Tex/Elder Benson had one week left on his mission. Are we not taught missionaries are protected as well as their families at home? While I have a general testimony in the concept of mission=protection, in our case the situation ended differently. If we were ridged in the doctrine of mission=protection, we could have lost our faith in God. We could have concluded since X happened God/church/mission service etc is not true.
I think a lot of apostate Mormons suffer from rigidity. Often they are raised by hard core Mormons or they themselves are by nature hard core. Their perceptions are either black/ white, right/ wrong. When we fail to realize God’s ways are not always our ways we set ourselves up for added heartache and failure.
God sees the biggest picture of all; the “could have happened”. Even when it is extraordinarily difficult we need to trust in His will and have gratitude.
Joanna, I have experienced a few faith rockers as well. One such incident involved my mission. When I arrived in Brasil, I was put in a newer area. My companion and I did not have beds–we slept on the floor–and neither of us had a blanket to keep warm at night. In short order, I had pneumonia and a host of other illnesses that knocked me on my butt. Two and one half months later, I was sent home to recover. My mission ended a few months later and I was given an honorable release. I nearly left the Church because of this.
I can identify with rigidity in the gospel and have learned through trial that life is not always black/white, right/wrong. I feel fortunate to have suffered through and survived my trials with a faith filled with compassion and understanding for others.
My heart is full to know you and see how your faith has made you stronger through life’s trials, even when it involves losing a spouse.
One of my favorite scriptures on faith is Alma 57:27-
The key to my faith is trusting in God continually. Like you pointed out, God sees the big picture. We see things through a “glass darkly.”
Joanna, one of the things I have noticed is that everybody’s trials are different and everybody’s faith-building experiences are different. So, I know people who were clearly protected when they went on a mission or had children go on a mission. For example, my father-in-law gained his testimony because my wife went on a mission. I know a mission president who miraculously made just enough money to pay for his mission assignment right before leaving on a mission, and all kinds of good things happened during his mission. My aunt and uncle were protected in all kinds of ways when their kids went on missions. And then there are all kinds of other people who suffer trials when they or their kids are on missions. So, it’s tough to know exactly what to expect. If there was some formula, then everybody who had ever read the BoM would get baptized, but clearly there is not a formula. It seems to be that there are literally millions of different factors that add up to different life experiences for everybody.
But there is a formula that I think works for everybody: it is not so much what happens to you as it is how you respond to it. And if you take a long-term view, you will see that if you respond to trials with increased faith, prayer, fasting, scripture reading, you will see that there was a reason for the trial in the first place.
JA, I mean that faith can’t just be trust in God – it has to be something broader. But clearly sometimes it is used just to mean trust in God. Yet in other places it seems more tied to a two way communication. Trust just doesn’t capture what faith is in those context. So if gifts of the spirit are tied to faith does that mean they are tied to trust? No in my experience. Likewise if you read Lectures on Faith (recognizing it’s not canonical) you find other issues, such as the idea that God’s creative power is faith.
I suggest the most important aspect of the relationship between faith and knowledge is that many of the most significant things to have faith in are not accomplished facts.
For many such things, it is as William James said, “Truth is something that happens” to an idea. No one can possibility be saved unless they believe they can be saved and are willing to put forth the effort that salvation requires.
The same thing with God’s creative activity – why in the world should God embark on grand creative projects unless he looks forward with an eye of faith, seeing things that “are not” as if they were?
Brian #7 -I understand your mission situation. You get yourself worked up your whole life for this one righteous event. No fault of your own it is taken from you. You return home with honor, but it does not feel like honor. After all, you did your best and God SHOULD have sustained and healed you in your hour of need.
We are all grateful you stayed on the path and have gained wisdom from the struggle. Thank you for the lovely scripture in Alma. It is good to remind ourselves of our child-like faith; clean and unpretentious.
Oh also Brian, I need to mention I am a math atheist as well.
I too have witnessed miracles in regards to missionary service. I am sure we received blessings while Tex served his mission. Tex certainly did. However there are no guarantee we will receive blessings according to our own plan. I think of the verse in Come Come Ye Saints,
Death really is not a end, but a temporary separation. I do know that to be true. It just seems really hard right now and a really burdensome lonely journey.
Wonderful bit of wisdom. You are exactly right. Thank you for pointing it out.
Clark- THis is a perfect example of why I have been a long time fan of yours (even before the bloggernacle was created). You stretch my mind; and it certainly needs stretching. I am relating how life throws some really big pot holes on your life’s path; and how to overcome and remain connected to God. You pull me in another direction that has me thinking about it for hours.
I had to reflect for a few hours on your wise words. I confess, not having really studied or read the Lectures on Faith since college, I am not that familiar with who said what. I think, gifts of the Spirit are given to those who have faith, but not all have the same gift, and not always do we get the gift we desired. A gift is a gift. A polite grateful person would say to God, “Thank you for the lovely gift” and then trust God gave the gift you deserve/need, but not necessarily the one you desired.
I really need to get that stenciled on something. How true, God needs our faith!!! It is two way communication. It is part of that whole covenant thing we have with God.
Mark- this is where you come in and expand my mind yet in another direction.
Exactly and part of that salvation is doing what He requires us to do and not give up because the task does not fit into our own notion of what should be.
You and Clark are so right. God could not have accomplished all that he did with Joseph Smith and the restoration, if Joseph Smith did not also share in the same creative vision.