How Can I Believe in What I’ve Never Seen?
April 2023

“How Can I Believe in What I’ve Never Seen?,” Liahona, Apr. 2023.

Young Adults

How Can I Believe in What I’ve Never Seen?

Even when the gospel seems intangible, we can choose to have faith anyway.

woman looking out a window

“I just don’t understand how you can believe in what you’ve never seen. I don’t know how to have that kind of faith.”

I was struck by my brother’s statement. We have a great relationship, and he was confiding in me about some challenges he was facing. He hadn’t been active in the Church for years, so I shared my desires for him to believe in something—anything, really—regarding a loving Heavenly Father and a higher purpose for mortality.

But his words caused me to reflect: Why do I believe in Christ and everything about the gospel when so much is intangible?

Faith Is the Greatest Power

President Russell M. Nelson continues to urge us to deepen our faith, so we can withstand the adversary’s attacks in the coming days. I find it significant that he could choose to teach us about anything regarding the gospel, but he constantly teaches about the most basic gospel building block—faith—by encouraging us to strengthen our spiritual foundations,1 maintain spiritual momentum,2 and exercise faith that will move mountains.3

Faith is the all-powerful answer to questions about the gospel. According to Alma, a “desire to believe” (Alma 32:27) is the simple beginning to the entire gospel of Jesus Christ, yet faith can become “the greatest power available to us in this life”4 for finding answers and holding on to hope.

Moses parting the Red Sea

Illustrations by Emily Jones

Seen or Unseen, Faith Is a Choice

As I studied the Old Testament last year, I had some realizations about retaining faith. I read about the Israelites whom God freed from bondage in Egypt, and I wondered how it would feel to witness the blatant, almost unbelievable, miracles they saw during their lifetime.

But I grew frustrated as I watched their faith go through pendulum swings—they would see miracles and praise God, and then lose faith and murmur against Him when they faced trials or inconveniences. The Lord freed them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea for them to pass through on dry land, and caused “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4) to rain from the sky (as a bread-lover, I can hardly imagine!), and even after all this, the children of Israel faithlessly said, “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” (Numbers 21:5).

At first, I was appalled at their reactions. How could they doubt God and be so ungrateful after all He had visibly done for them?

“If I had witnessed those types of miracles, I would never doubt my faith or question Heavenly Father again!” I thought. But as I pondered deeper, I realized that I too have been guilty of this same shallow faith.

When facing challenges, I sometimes question if Heavenly Father really is with me, even though He has made His presence known countless times before. I can recall moments when I’ve had questions about the gospel or times when I’ve felt forgotten because my obedience didn’t prevent unfairness or bring about miracles as quickly as I wanted.

But I’ve learned that the key to keeping my faith in these moments of questioning is not by waiting for bread to fall from the sky but by simply making a choice:

A choice to believe.

Making the Choice to Believe

The world would encourage us to find validation or justification for our doubts or questions from a quick Google search or even through acquaintances. But exercising faith and inviting the Spirit to guide us is the only way to find pure, absolute truths.

When I am faced with the choice to believe or not, I seek the Spirit even when it’s hard; I recall the moments when I have felt the Holy Ghost whisper truth to my core; I ponder what my soul knows to be true; I consider when I have felt Heavenly Father’s perfect love; and I focus on the everyday mercies and miracles I’ve seen in my life, like the ability to feel peace amid struggles or the joy of repentance through Christ.

I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true because the Spirit always reveals that truth to me when I make that choice to seek Him rather than looking elsewhere for answers—when I desire and choose to believe.

Sure, it would be easy to have faith in Heavenly Father after witnessing miracles, but miracles don’t produce faith—exercising faith is what invites miracles (see Matthew 17:20). Faith isn’t a matter of seeing and believing—it’s a matter of choosing to believe before you completely understand, seeking truths with the heart, and nourishing beliefs with righteousness (see Alma 32:40–43).

Thomas looking at nail marks in the hand of Jesus

We Are Blessed When We Believe

Going back to the conversation with my brother, I didn’t know if anything I could say would convince him of the truths I hold dear to my heart. But suddenly, I was reminded of the story of the Apostle Thomas. So I shared it with him.

Thomas was faithful to the Savior during His ministry but would not believe his Master had risen again until he saw Him face to face. When he felt the prints of the nails in His hands, he finally believed, and the Savior told him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29; emphasis added).

And then I bore my testimony: “I’ve overcome too many challenges in my life to not believe in a Heavenly Father who loves me and a Savior who has helped me find joy and peace through it all. I may not see Them personally, but I see Them through so many instances of goodness in the world. Life is hard, but faith in Them reminds me of who I am and what my purpose is, and I remember the blessings They have promised me. Every time I choose to have faith, I feel in my heart that They are with me, and that the gospel is true.”

We ended our conversation on a good note. I don’t know if he will choose to come back to the gospel any time soon, but I invited him to simply begin with a desire to believe.

This world does not make it easy to always have faith. In fact, sometimes we may feel like our efforts to be faithful are in vain when we face challenges or when it feels like the heavens are closed to us. But growing and maintaining our faith is a refining process that takes hope in the Savior, trust in Heavenly Father, and action on our part. And continuing to choose faith can bring the outcome described by Elder L. Whitney Clayton, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy: “Over time you will come to see that you have made the best choice you could possibly have made. Your courageous decision to believe in Him will bless you immeasurably and forever.”5

When I choose to believe, especially when I could understandably choose not to, I do receive blessings, experience miracles, and feel deep-rooted joy as the Savior and the prophet have promised. And sometimes, despite the challenges I face and unanswered questions I may have, the greatest miracle in my life is that when I choose faith in Jesus Christ, I do see Him. I recognize His hand, His power, and His light in my life.

I know you can do the same.