Topic : Doubt

"Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6)

As a teenager, I liked to speculate about religion with my parents. My general attitude about religion was skeptical; I felt it the responsibility of others to build my faith.
One day when I was nearly seventeen, I was leaning over the counter in the kitchen reading The LDS Church News which ran a cartoon strip that day depicting events from the Book of Ether in The Book of Mormon. I read the passage, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” That admonition struck a particularly responsive chord and I realized that I had things backward. Instead of demanding proof first, this scripture was telling me I should try to exercise faith first; the assurance would then come after my faith had been tried. One effect of reading this scripture was to make me generally more optimistic. It was the start of a conscious shift of direction, a willingness to try first and expect proof later.
The Book of Mormon itself stands for me as a persuasive artifact, because of the many witnesses who speak to the physical presence of the gold plates; the short time in which it was translated; and particularly the chiastic form in which much of The Book of Mormon is cast. This and the power with which it speaks to my soul all lead me to believe the book is everything Joseph Smith said it was.

“For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah . . . .” (First Nephi 1:4; see also Second Chronicles 36:11-16)

“. . . Jared came forth with his brother and their families . . . at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered.” (Ether 1:33; see also Genesis 11:7-9)

I grew up in South Texas attending another Christian church. At the time, I knew nothing about the contents of The Book of Mormon. However, I was familiar with The Bible. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that The Book of Mormon account commences at the time that Zedekiah was king over Israel. Zedekiah is mentioned in the Bible record in the same time period that according to The Book of Mormon, Lehi left Jerusalem. Since both records spoke of Zedekiah, that was proof to me that Lehi was a real person. In 2 Chronicles Chapter 36, 2 Kings Chapters 15 and 24, and Jeremiah Chapter 7, Zedekiah is mentioned as the king over Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came and destroyed the city when Zedekiah rebelled against him. According to The Book of Mormon, Lehi and his family left just in time.

The Book of Mormon’s Book of Ether tells of a group living near the Tower of Babel who were led by Jared and his brother who petitioned the Lord to not confound their language and to lead them to another land, which He did. In see also Genesis Chapter 11, we find an account of the scattering of people who were building the tower, and the confounding of their language.

To me, these two connections – Lehi at the time of Zedekiah, and the Jaredites at the time of the Tower of Babel, were a practical proof that The Book of Mormon was a true historical account.

I like practical and also spiritual proofs. For me, the spiritual proof of the validity of The Book of Mormon is evident in the effect of every page upon me, and upon what I have done with my life — my values, my occupation, my wife and family, my eternal goals.

My logic is that if The Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet. If Joseph is a prophet, then the church that he established must be the Lord’s Church. That is why I was baptized into His church.

"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

Three months after my twins were born, my church leader called me in and asked me to be a Blazer Scout leader. With twelve children, I was totally overwhelmed. I didn’t say “no” immediately because my son Wid was asked to be my assistant scout leader. When my husband Dean asked me what was wanted, I sarcastically said, “I wonder what I’ve done wrong. Can you believe it? He asked me to be a scout leader for twelve eleven-year-old boys.” Dean surprised me by saying, “Well, that sounds like fun. You’ve never had that calling in the church before.” I was mad, and it took me a whole week to humble myself and ask the Lord if this was truly inspired. On Friday, with a Sunday deadline to give my answer, I knelt in prayer and the answer came loud and clear, “1 Nephi 3:7: I will go and do . . . .” I chuckled as I thought, “Well, Heavenly Father isn’t asking you to go get someone’s brass plates, but just to take twelve little boys and prepare them to receive the priesthood and scouting skills and values.” It was one of the most exciting and rewarding opportunities I’ve had in my church. Serving five years in that position, I worked with all four of my sons and each of them earned their Eagle Awards. We made diamonds in Dr. Tracy Hall’s laboratory, toured the Provo Utah LDS Temple before it was finished, and re-enacted Ute Chief Sowiette’s defense of the Provo Fort. I am indebted to the leader of the other twelve boys in our ward. She became a wonderful mentor and friend. I testify that whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:4-5)

Sixty years ago, as a young man twenty years old, I was fulfilling a Church assignment that I found to be very challenging, and I was somewhat discouraged. One evening as I read The Book of Mormon, I came upon this verse in Moroni 10. Having received this exhortation, I decided to test it, and prayed somewhat as follows: “Lord, this work I have been called to do is very hard and I feel discouraged. Nevertheless, if I can be assured of its truth and value, I will persist.” At that moment, I felt filled with a Heavenly light that affirmed to me the truth of The Book of Mormon. From that moment, through all these sixty some years since, that experience has sustained and blessed me and given me the courage to persist.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:4-5)

I grew up in a home where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught and lived by example by my parents, five older siblings, and extended family. I remember on Sundays lying outside on a blanket next to my Mom as she read scriptures aloud to me. Mother and her siblings also liked gathering on Sundays to discuss the scriptures. As a child I was encouraged by my Sunday school teachers and parents to memorize many scriptures that have stayed with me all my life.
At the age of 15 while attending junior high school I chose to take “release time” from school for religious study called “Seminary.” Our teacher challenged each of us to read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover and to pray and ask Heavenly Father if it is true. That day we read together as a class in the Book of Mormon from Moroni 10:4-5.
This passage of scripture hit me hard. I accepted the challenge and read in my bed each night. It seemed to me that I felt happier each day and I found myself reading earlier in the evenings. My personal prayers became more intimate and I listened and felt the promptings of the still small voice of the Holy Ghost more noticeably. Even the discussions on The Book of Mormon in class became more meaningful to me because of my preparations the day before.
My personal testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ was strengthened as I read of Him visiting his followers in the Americas after His Resurrection. After finishing the last chapter of The Book of Moroni in The Book of Mormon, I knelt and prayed to ask if The Book of Mormon was true, and the feeling came over me that I had already been given that assurance. I never doubted it, nor doubted that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and restored his Gospel in its fullness to the earth.
It has been more than 45 years since those days in junior high school, but those feelings I felt at that time have been confirmed and enlarged many times over as I have read and reread The Book of Mormon all my life. I love feasting on the scriptures and I feel its influence in my life each day.

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety, hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not. And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:4-6)

As a young mother, I watched some of my children express doubt because their prayers were not always answered immediately or in the way they wanted. I, myself, felt that God’s love for me was manifest in the blessings I received at His hand. So when trials came along, and lasted a long time as they often do, I had the feeling that I had displeased my Heavenly Father in some way and was not worthy of the blessing I badly needed. Then I read, again, the counsel from these two great prophets and I realized that my children and I both needed to learn that hope and faith always precede the miracle. Answers to prayer, and especially miracles, do not happen in order to prove our faith is justified. I told my children that asking for blessings to prove there is a God makes faith unnecessary, and that is not the way God operates.
I know God is there and hears my prayers and loves me, weak as I am. I have learned that “no” is an acceptable answer to a requested blessing. Thanks to Ether and Moroni, I continue to have faith that Heavenly Father’s wisdom is greater than my own, and that is what I now share with my grandchildren.

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." (Alma 26:27)

Many of us have moments in our lives when we wonder if we should stop trying to achieve a goal we once felt was extremely important. In The Book of Mormon, Ammon and the other three sons of Mosiah experienced those same feelings. They wanted more than anything to help the Lamanites come nearer to God. But the harder they tried, the more hostile the Lamanites became. At a moment of real discouragement, Ammon recounts, they heard the words of the Lord quoted above.

Ammon and his brothers were men of God, but they still became depressed because of the difficulties they were experiencing. I have always found it astonishing that Ammon used the word “comfort” to describe how the Lord helped them, because the Lord did not give them what we would call comfort today. He asked them to return to the hostile Lamanites and try again.

So they returned and got spit on, stoned, put in prison, and run out of town. But eventually they baptized thousands of these once hostile Lamanites. They had astounding success.

So when I am disappointed, or when I become discouraged, I think about Ammon and his brothers. I have never been stoned, or spit on, or run out of town. No one has ever attempted to murder me, as some of the Lamanites did to Ammon and his brothers. So I pray, and fast, as did Ammon and his brothers. And then I have confidence that the Lord will give me success as he did them.

I have experienced the benefits of prayer and fasting. I know that the Lord can give us help when we need it. I love The Book of Mormon. It has answers for the problems we face in our lives.

"Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come." (3 Nephi 11: 14-15)

When I was fourteen years old, I read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover for the first time. When I began, I wasn’t sure if this book was the word of God. I remember reading 3 Nephi, Chapter 11, which talks about Christ visiting the people on the American continent shortly after He was resurrected. In verse 14, I read the invitation that Christ gave to the people, and in verse 15, I read how the people responded to Christ’s invitation.
As I thought about these two verses, I got a good feeling inside. I could see in my mind the people coming to Christ, feeling His hands and feet, and knowing that He was there for them. I prayed to God and asked Him if Christ really did visit those people after His resurrection. God answered my prayer and made it known to me that His son did visit those people. I knew at that time that the Book of Mormon was the word of God.
Many years have passed since I was fourteen. I have read the Book of Mormon over and over since then. Every time I read it, I find new insights to help improve my life and come closer to God.

"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." (Mormon 9:21)

I have many examples of the Father answering my personal prayers. I’ve learned through personal experience that when I’m really troubled I can go to my Father in Heaven and He will answer my prayers. For instance, when we were moving from Dallas back to our home in Utah, rather than let the movers handle them we personally packed up and set aside some very valuable papers and documents we would need when we got home. We spent a month visiting family and friends and touring significant spots in the United States. When we finally arrived home and unpacked everything in our Volkswagon bus, the papers we needed were missing. I could not remember where I had packed them, and they were nowhere to be found. That night I pleaded with my Father in Heaven to help us locate the lost items, and went to bed, sleeping soundly. Early the next morning, just before dawn I had a dream and in that dream it was revealed to me, as in a movie, exactly what we’d done with the documents and where we could find them: the night before we were leaving Dallas, a friend headed directly to Utah volunteered to save us space by taking this small trunk and holding it until we would arrive a month later. We happily accepted the offer, and in the scramble of packing and saying goodbye never gave it a second thought. None of us had remembered that transaction until it was revealed to me.

I have had many such experiences, the Spirit speaking to me in the early dawn when my mind is cleared and prepared to listen without distractions. I know He is there and He cares.

"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it." (Alma 56: 47-48)

I like this scripture because it talks about how two thousand stripling warriors did not fear death, and they thought more about the freedom of their fathers than about their own lives. And they talked about their mothers.

I think that is great that they did not fear death. I mean, think of how courageous they would have to be to go into battle with only two thousand men and not be afraid for their lives.

I know that when I have prayed and read a passage of scripture, the Holy Ghost has touched my heart and told me if it is true.