I recently found out—and was shocked to hear—that a family I have known for years has left the Church. My husband and I talked about how we would feel if it were our families who decided to leave the Church. We talked about what we would do to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ if something like this ever happened to us.
For a moment, I was content with our plan, but I felt the Spirit telling me that there was a better way. We didn’t have to wait for a time of crisis. It should be our goal now to have a firm foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ so that when the winds and waves of life do come, we will be ready.
It can be easy to go through the motions as a member of the Church or to follow the commandments because that is what we are told to do. But without lasting conversion and constant strengthening of our testimonies, we can all become prone to letting our faith in the Savior dwindle.
This is not a new phenomenon.
In Joel, we learn that the people of his time were living the gospel only for appearances, not because they were converted to the Lord. The Lord implored the people to rend their hearts, but all they were worried about was rending their garments to convince the people around them that they were living righteously (see Joel 2:13).
The prophet Hosea also tried to convince the people of Israel to turn their hearts back to the Lord. They started forgetting the sacred meaning behind their religious practices. Their faith became routine and then dwindled. Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Though the people of Israel might have been living the law of Moses, they had forgotten or ignored the importance of the faith behind their actions (see Hosea 6:7).
Thoughtlessly following a routine, even in the gospel of Jesus Christ, does not help us progress. Instead, we must be intentional with our faith and let the gospel fill us with purpose and joy.
Faith Requires Action
My friends who decided to leave the Church are not at fault for having questions. We all face times of uncertainty. But my friends sought outside solutions to their questions instead of looking to the Lord. They decided to step away from the ultimate source of truth by distancing themselves from the Lord’s restored gospel.
Instead, we can turn to the Lord for help in uncertainty.
Sister Rebecca L. Craven, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, recently encouraged us to actively seek opportunities to develop our faith in Jesus Christ instead of waiting for faith to find us. She said: “Being a disciple of Jesus Christ involves more than just hoping or believing. It calls for effort, movement, and commitment. It requires that we do something, being ‘doers of the word, and not hearers only’ [James 1:22].”1
Taking action, keeping the commandments, and following the Lord with the goal to strengthen our testimonies ensures that we will experience growth in our faith and our inward devotion to God.
In Joel 2:12, the Lord says, “Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” The Lord wants us to turn to Him with all the might that we can muster. He wants us to turn to Him in times of struggle and prosperity. We are also encouraged to “turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (Joel 2:13). The Lord knows that we struggle, but He is there to help us in our search for answers.
Rather than trusting in our own devices to find answers, we can turn to the Lord.
The Lord Is Ready to Help Us
I may never know why my friends have stepped away from the Church. But I know that the Lord loves them and will help them if they decide to make their way back to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’ve learned that speculating why my friends are no longer active in the Church is not a good use of my time. Rather than focusing on why they struggle, I prefer to focus on what I can do to strengthen my inner devotion to the Lord. Inward devotion leads to action, and action strengthens my testimony.
The Lord stands ready for each of us to turn our hearts toward Him. This is not a one-time decision; every day, we must decide to follow Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. As Hosea says, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for … he will heal us ..., and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).
Molly Ogden Welch is about to graduate from Brigham Young University with a degree in journalism. She lives with her husband and baby girl. She enjoys watching movies and playing the guitar. She served a mission in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission and loves attending the temple.
You can find more articles about dealing with uncertainty in the Young Adults section of the March 2023 Liahona.
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1. Rebecca L. Craven, “Do What Mattereth Most,” Liahona, May 2022, 62.