I was born in the church and grew up in it. I’ve recently turned 19 and am about to make some important decisions that could affect the rest of my life (mission, priesthood etc.) I’ve already had my interviews to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood but have not been ordained yet. I am also about to start paperwork to go on my mission. I have believed in the church for my entire life with the exception of 2 or 3 years in my mid teens. Since then I have been strongly involved in the church. I am supposed to receive the priesthood this Sunday but for the past couple of days I have been having real problems with my faith and doubting the church. I think that its just satan trying to keep me from doing what is right but it’s really starting to get to me. Is there any advice that you can give me in this crucial time in my life?
One thing I want you to remember is that at no time is it wrong to have questions about the church, your faith, etc. Asking questions is how Joseph Smith came to have his first vision. Asking questions is how much of the Doctrine and Covenants came to Joseph. Asking questions is an essential step in learning anything in this life. Never hold fear in your heart over questions about the Gospel or any other religious issues.
What you can take hope in is that the answers to your questions are out there. Heavenly Father wants to help you find them. Whatever your doubts or questions are, you are not the first to have them, nor will you be the last. You can take hope in knowing that every man must negotiate their own path of questions of faith. Joseph Smith had his questions and doubts, and so has every prophet before or since. For heaven’s sake, Jonah let his personal doubt cause him to run from a specific command of the LORD. Yet when he faced his doubts, took faith in the LORD and fulfilled the command, countless people were blessed of God.
Finally, I can all but assure you Satan is very involved in this. I can also assure you that similar things will happen throughout your mission as you grow and progress in your personal righteousness, as well as when you bring others to a knowledge of the fullness of Christ. Satan will seek to derail you, your companions, and the investigators you are teaching every step of the way. The comforting news is that you have the God of all creation on your side. He is your father and he will always come to your aid as you seek to follow and fulfill his will.
I would strongly recommend humbling yourself and continuing in regular sincere personal prayer. Take these issues to Heavenly Father and work with him to keep the upper hand on your righteousness and faith. I also recommend working on your testimony. You have doubts and questions. Search out the answers in the scriptures prayerfully. Talk with church leaders if you can. Discuss them with your parents. The more help you enlist in this, the stronger you will be to stand against Satan and fulfill the mission you have chosen to serve.
Our doubts are never so ponderous as when we try to heave them alone. Do not shoulder them by yourself. Christ’s “yoke is easy”(Matt 11:30). Carry that instead and enjoy the good company in your journey. Trust him, and trust in him. You will see miracles as you do.