I am struggling with my faith. No big event triggered it, just a culmination of things. I am doing what I can to overcome it. But it seems that the canned answers of “study the scriptures, “pray sincerely,” fasting, searching, reading the words of our leaders, etc aren’t giving me any confirmation or reassurance that the church I’ve always believed to be true still is. I’ve poured my heart out to our Heavenly Father only to hear silence in return. Please help.
In his speech at a college devotional, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland provided the following thought from his talk,
“I wish to encourage every one of you today regarding opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose…. The reminder is that we cannot sign on for a moment of such eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight—a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless…. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward…. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts.”
I, personally, believe that our greatest trials come from not knowing when our deliverance will come. If we all had a urim and thummim that would divinely let us know a time period we would need to wait for the answer we are looking for, trials and tribulations would be much easier because we are able to see the end of the trial. In these cases, like yours, we are not able to see the end, we don’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the counsel we receive (at times) appears redundant, “Carry on, Carry on, Carry On!” And yet, this is our best counsel, do not give up on the fight that still remains.
The Lord works with us through small and simple means. The adversary doesn’t require a big event to shrink the faith of the elect. He will work the same way, by small and simple means, to get us to doubt what has already been revealed, which is why I have always loved Elder Holland’s words, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward…. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts.”
The pressure is mounting in your life. The pressure of not yet receiving more light, is adding to this pressure. I do not know why God will answer some prayers immediately, and why others I have had to wait for three years. I also do not understand how easily I have heard prayers answered after three years, and then realized two and half years earlier God already answered me, but mentally I wasn’t ready nor willing to accept the answer that came then, but three years later I heard it, I accepted it, and I have moved on.
The Book of Mormon, Julie, was meant for our day. The Book of Mormon provides a wonderful analogy that fits your specific trial of faith within the tree of life. The answer is personal, while the vision speaks currently where you are in your life – within the mist of darkness (which overshadows, or seeks to overshadow the light we have already received). Within this mist, what seemed so clear before — the tree of life (God’s love) — is now harder to feel and see with clarity. We are able to see that every person on the strait and narrow, holding to the rod, will eventually receive what they are seeking. The difficult part is our patience in God’s timing.
Whether our trial (our personal mist of darkness symbolizing a lack of light/knowledge in our life) stems from a major event, or a culmination of minor events (small and simple) should not be our focus, because they lead to the same end, a choice. You have a very important choice, to lay hold as Elder Holland has mentioned on what God has already revealed, which keeps us moving through the mist until we partake of light, knowledge, and the love of God, or we let go because it has become too difficult.
I would encourage you to remember the words of Elder Holland, “If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts.” Although he was speaking of a witness of marriage, this applies to the witness and confirmation we have received pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith as true.
Elder Holland provides a second witness from his talk in General Conference regarding a young father, and his trial on the side road in an old broken down car, “Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”
The Lord bless you, Julie, to come off victorious through your personal mist of darkness.