A few years ago, I worked for ComeuntoChrist.org. Engaging with people who had questions about the Church was part of my daily tasks. During the four years I had this job, I interacted with thousands of people who challenged, inspired, and deepened my faith with their questions that pushed the limits of my gospel knowledge. And through my experiences, I learned a few things about what faith truly is.
From all my discussions with other people who were at various stages of faith, I came up with a few practical, working definitions of what faith is:
Faith is trusting God when we don’t have all the answers.
Faith is what happens in the spaces between what we know to be true.
Faith is making peace with the unknown.
Faith is moving forward when you don’t know what will come next.
In short, faith is the answer to uncertainty.
Uncertainty can be frustrating and scary. Some of the people I talked with in my job couldn’t stand uncertainty. They wouldn’t allow themselves to even contemplate the possibility of the existence of God or life after death. They’d made up their minds before they even asked me questions, and they only heard what they wanted to hear.
I remember one man who said, “You can’t show me the golden plates, so I can’t believe they ever existed.” To which I responded, “Suppose I could show you the plates—would that be enough for you?” And he replied, “No, because I would be looking at forgery.”
No matter what I said, he had already made up his mind that “no” was the right answer—because “no” could eliminate his uncertainty.
Laman and Lemuel were a perfect example of this when they wanted to receive answers as Nephi did. Nephi asked them, “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” and they answered, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us” (1 Nephi 15:8–9).
Laman and Lemuel were not even willing to take the simple step of praying because they’d already predetermined in their minds what the result would be.
It can be easy to get caught in this mindset. And if we have this outlook, we can become paralyzed, because we can’t begin relationships, apply for jobs, start families, or cope with death or any kind of change without some degree of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is inevitable, and faith is a necessary choice we must make against it.
Sometimes when we have questions, we can get so desperate for answers that we’ll accept any that are offered to us. Social science researcher Brené Brown explains: “Uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable, so we try to escape it any way we can. Sometimes we even settle for misinformation or bad news over not knowing.”1 Rejecting uncertainty leads to resistance to growth or development in all areas of life. It keeps us stuck.
But when we accept uncertainty, faith can help us move forward through the unanswered questions. Accepting uncertainty is trusting that we will find answers. It’s not giving up on finding them—it’s making peace with the fact that we can’t force when we receive them. As Bishop Richard C. Edgley, former First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said: “What I don’t know or don’t completely understand, with the powerful aid of my faith, I bridge the gap and move on, partaking of the promises and blessings of the gospel. And then, as Alma teaches, our faith brings us to a perfect knowledge (see Alma 32:34).”2
We always have a choice: trust God and His quiet invitation to move forward—patiently hoping for knowledge of the truth—or trust those in the world who claim to have all the answers now.
Choose God. He will always share the truth. Here are a few ways you can choose to follow Him, no matter how strong your faith:
If confusion and hopelessness weigh on your mind, choose to “awake and arouse your faculties” (Alma 32:27). Humbly approaching the Lord with a broken heart and contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:20) is the pathway to truth and the Lord’s way of light, knowledge, and peace.
If your testimony is insecure, choose to believe anyway and “exercise [even] a particle of faith”; choose to “experiment upon [His] words” (Alma 32:27). The Savior explained, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
When logic, reason, or doubts come into conflict with sacred teachings and doctrine, or if opposing messages assault your beliefs as the fiery darts described by the Apostle Paul (see Ephesians 6:16), choose to keep going and not cast the seed out of your heart by unbelief (see Alma 32:28). Remember, we receive not a witness until after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6).
If your faith is proven and mature, choose to continue to nurture it “with great care” (Alma 32:37) through scripture study, prayer, service, worship in the temple, and however else you stay close to the Lord.
Having questions is a good thing if we strive to strengthen our testimonies while seeking answers. Questions can lead us to deeper faith and a stronger testimony of the truth. We are here on earth to learn to live by faith.
As the years have passed since I worked for ComeuntoChrist.org, I’ve had other experiences deepen my knowledge of faith. I’ve now completed medical school, and I’ve learned that there is always more to learn and more to be revealed through time.
I don’t know everything, but I do know from the bottom of my heart that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. I know that each time I read the Book of Mormon, I feel certain of its truthfulness. And I know that God will direct us, answer our questions in His time, and inspire us to keep moving forward. He has the truth we’re seeking. Choose to follow Him instead of giving in to the voices of the world.