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Faith might be a struggle for some on a yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. When so much of the world is filled with confusion, anger, and hate, it can be hard to know what is real and what is fake. You might be reading your scriptures and think, "But how do I know any of this is true?" Similarly you might be attending Church and asking yourself "Why do I even bother? What is the point?"
It is apparent that during these times, our faith is what is keeping us afloat from the water of dispair, but at the same time the thing that is drowning us. So what can we do?
The first thing to do is to understand what faith truly means.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness.” The Apostle Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
President Hinckley observed, “When I discuss faith, I do not mean it in an abstract sense. I mean it as a living, vital force with recognition of God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our Savior. When we accept this basic premise, there will come an acceptance of their teachings and an obedience which will bring peace and joy in this life and exaltation in the life to come.”
It is not enough however to just have faith and hope. We have to act on what we have been taught. The Apostle James explained the importance of acting on our faith when he said: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” So-called faith without works is not faith at all!
This is, I believe, the struggle that most face when it comes to having faith. It is easy to want to believe and to have hope, but to put it into action and habit is what makes having faith so difficult. Having faith in tithing is one thing, but obeying the law of tithing and actually living that commandment is another. Blessings come from having faith, but true blessings and an abundance of blessings them will come through action.
Acting on our faith, however, doesn't mean that the road will be smooth. In fact, it could possibly open the doors to opposition. In a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales about faith, he said:
Once we find the beginnings of our faith in Jesus, our Heavenly Father allows our faith to be strengthened. This occurs in many ways, including through the experience of adversity." An acquaintance of mine recently wrote:
“We lost a 2-and-a-half-year-old grandson to leukemia. … My children still haven’t taken his crib down; it will [soon be] 7 years [since he died. It is] hard to have faith. [I] lost a friend [who was] 69. [He] had three different cancers in 10 years, [cancers which] went into remission twice. [First, they found it in his] kidneys, [then his] brain, [and] then [his] lungs. [He] couldn’t fight it any longer. [He] tried everything humanly possible and 6 years ago found faith … but not an extra day, so I guess it’s hard to believe.”
Isn’t it interesting that the one who is suffering often gains faith through suffering and accepts the Lord’s will, “thy will be done."
Ultimately what it comes down to is this: to have faith and to have stronger faith, each individual must act on it and understand that adversity and opposition is part of that deal. Only when we overcome these two things will our faith be stronger and our resolve to continue to live a life that points towards our Savior Jesus Christ be completed. But faith has no completion. It's always a journey. Elder Hales ended his talk with the following: