Topic : Doubt

"O how ye ought to thank your heavenly King!" (Mosiah 2:19)

When I was fourteen, it was my freshman year of high school. I was really struggling to get good grades and make friends. I was also beginning to have doubts about participating in church activities. Life was miserable and I wished for a change but I didn’t know how to make it.

One day in my math class I heard that if you write down three things you’re thankful for every day, you will get better grades. I thought why not give it a shot? So I started to write down three things I was thankful for every day.

At first I didn’t notice but I began to get gradually happier. Although I was getting better grades, I hardly noticed because everything else around me was going so well. I began to have better relationships with my family members and my Father in Heaven. I did so by studying my scriptures, not just reading them. I also started to make my prayers more meaningful. I would talk to my Heavenly Father and express how thankful I was for the many wonderful things he had given to me. I would talk about how life was going and asked for help with whatever struggles I was having. I also asked questions. I learned that prayer is a powerful yet simple way of connecting with my Father in Heaven.

As I continued this pattern I became more happy every day. I was sooo thankful for all that Heavenly Father had done for me. I gradually started making regular trips to the temple.

Although at the time I had not read the scripture verse I have quoted above, I now know how powerful its words are, because thankfulness had such a huge impact on my life for good. Before, I would never have realized how doing one little thing could be such a blessing in my life. Now I am sixteen, and I keep a small notebook by my bed in which I write things I am thankful for every day. I feel that being thankful is a powerful way to become happy in life. I’m so thankful for my Heavenly Father and that He blesses and cares for me every day. I love this gospel, and I’m thankful I’ve continued to attend church meetings through all my doubts. I invite others to “experiment upon (the) word” (Alma 32:27), and come to know of its truthfulness.

"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)

This verse of scripture has always helped me find the courage to do the right thing. Sometimes it’s scary trying to make the right choice when you’re faced with a hard decision and don’t know exactly how things are going to play out. It’s hard to stand up for what’s right when others don’t agree with you. It’s hard to go outside your comfort zone to talk to someone who needs a friend. It’s hard to make good life plans and move forward not knowing if everything will work out the way you hope. But just like this verse of scripture promises, every time I’ve tried to do the right thing and follow the example of Jesus, a path has appeared, I’ve found the right words to say, and things in my life have eventually worked out for the best. I know the Lord will take care of the things I can’t control when I’m trying to do the the things he’d have me do.

"And as ye have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do, because of your afflictions; and he hath spoken somewhat unto you to prepare your minds; yea, and he hath exhorted you unto faith and to patience . . . ." (Alma 34:3)

In college I was terrified of messing up big decisions. I would get really worked up about what boys to date, what job to take or what major to pursue. I had a strong desire to do what is right, but fretted over what was the best route.  I remember one night I was particularly anxious about a decision and I had a thought to look to my scriptures. I opened the Book of Mormon to the above verse.  Even though this was written hundreds of years before my time and the man who wrote it was facing trials totally different than mine, I felt like God was speaking me. I had felt lost and unsure and this scripture offered a plan and a promise. I have always felt it important that it tells me to do my part by preparing my mind, not just wait around for an answer.  Adequate preparation combined with both faith in God’s love for me and a little bit of patience has become the equation that helps me resolve any problem I come across. I truly come back to this scripture whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and it simply gives me peace. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the feeling of comfort and peace I get when I read this scripture. I am so grateful to feel God’s love and guidance through the Book of Mormon.

"And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people; for the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled. For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him. And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed. And now I, Alma, do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me, that ye observe to do the words which I have spoken unto you. I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 5:57-62)

Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I never felt I really needed to be “converted” to the teachings that I had grown up learning. It wasn’t until my Junior and Senior years of high school that I really felt like my belief in the Church was being tested. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of sixteen. Being told that not only did I have a serious pain condition but that it would also stick with me for life, led to my developing a serious case of depression. I allowed myself to become bitter and angry with God, and got myself mixed up in a crowd that wasn’t conducive to the standards the Church had in place. However, I began to feel empty inside. I was happy, but I didn’t feel whole. I began to wonder if having the Lord back in my life would help me to feel complete again. While reading the Book of Mormon, I found many verses that talked about abandoning sin, and coming unto Christ, but Alma 5 particularly stood out. Not only did it encourage me to abandon living the life of frivolity that I was currently participating in, but it compared all of us on earth to sheep being watched over by “the good shepherd”. The line, “the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; . . .that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life” was the tipping point in turning from the life I was currently living, and coming unto the Savior That was the best decision I have ever made. I have never felt as peaceful, jovial, and simply content with who and where I am in life, as I have since I decided to make the decision to abandon the person that I was and become a member of the fold which is actively watched over and protected by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"And if there be faults they be the faults of a man" (Mormon 8:17)

“And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing . . . .” (Ether 12:23)

“Condemn me not because of mine imperfection . . . .” (Mormon 9:31)

So writes Moroni, one of the principal editors of the Book of Mormon, as he struggled with his weakness and perceived deficiencies. As a physician, I too have struggled as I have looked at the abyss of my ignorance, and the words of Moroni have spoken to me as a familiar spirit from the dust. This is a man whose struggles in the distant past have resonated with my soul and increased my resolve to follow my Savior Jesus Christ. A man who had a resolute belief in his Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered untold difficulties in his life, a man whom I esteem greatly, was a man who had weaknesses and imperfections. This is a man of God that I can relate to. I have felt his spirit speak to me and sensed his anguish as I have read his words, and I have been inspired to become a true follower of Jesus Christ.

"And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity." (Moroni 10:22)

“Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” (Moroni 7:42)

Despair. No one is immune. Some may be less susceptible to it, and others more likely to have it. Some have it all the time and can never get away from it. Sadly it sometimes leads to drastic ends. I have felt it from time to time. It seems to grow steadily as the rising tide, consuming the shoreline, relentless, crushing, and inevitable. Despair dissolves the hope of a brighter future.

I remember a time in high school when I felt particularly down. I don’t recall particularly why, but I do remember feeling a loss of hope, that things wouldn’t get better, that they would only get worse, and there was nothing I, or anyone, could do to change that. In my moment of despair I read, “If ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.” Why was I in despair? Was it some form of iniquity, some sin I was guilty of? As I considered this, I understood that the ‘iniquity’, or my error, was not some awful deed I had done. Rather, it was something more fundamental and simple.

My problem was a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. With faith in Him, there is hope of a brighter future. Without Him comes despair. With faith in Him comes knowledge that it does not matter what my past has been, only what my future can be. Faith in Christ is confidence in a Father in Heaven who loves me, without condition, and regardless of mistakes and slip-ups and imperfections. Faith brings a hope for a new start, a brighter future, a chance to try again and again, a chance to be clean of past errors. Faith and hope go together, inseparable. I believe in God. I believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind. When I feel despair, I stop and remember to have a little more faith. I have faith that God can make me whole and clean and pure. I have hope that tomorrow is a new day and that I can be better than I was yesterday. Hope is my antidote to despair.

"And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer" (Enos 1:4-10)

My soul hungered. My legs were burning from the climb. A moment’s rest at the top of the mountain was a needed reprieve. Beads of sweat pooled where my bicycle helmet met my forehead. Behind me I glimpsed the hair pin curves and twists of the narrow asphalt road exposed between the openings in the dense pines and oaks.

The view was spectacular, but my mind was elsewhere. During the arduous press up the incline, the words I had read were stirring deep in my heart. A seventeen year old boy raised in the Mormon faith, I had often heard my parents speak of the joy of the saints. I wanted to know with greater surety of the things of God. My heart was filled with desire for assurance and conviction of what I had been taught and what I hoped and professed to believe. I had felt God’s love for me and felt he cared when I prayed to him. Jesus’ teachings in the Bible were profound and brought out the best in me. My desire was to ask God about something else: the Book of Mormon.

I remembered the story of Enos, a hunter. He had been out hunting in the forest. Like me, he reflected on what his father had taught him and was filled with desire. Like him, I decided to pray. Climbing a large boulder and kneeling in the moss, I vocalized my desire to know what I believed to be true. I cried out for help. I pleaded for God to help me be a better person. I wrestled with the intensity of my soul, a wrestle that did not fully begin that day or end that day. I felt the love of God. My faith in Him and His Son grew. I trembled with the distinct knowledge of his love for me.

Like Enos, I turned my thoughts to others, and I knew of God’s love for all mankind, for each of his children. I felt strongly that God loves each one individually and I prayed for my family, my friends, and then for those I did not know, and finally for those I didn’t even like.

My conviction of the Book of Mormon solidified. I felt the truth of that book. God had given answer to the desire of my soul. I did not see angels, I did not hear a voice, but I felt deeply of God’s concern for me.

My journey that day had been a hunt that brought me nearer to God. Life is full of twists and turns and mountains to climb, replete with highs and lows, pain and joy, and sorrows and happiness. I still have much to learn and I still make mistakes. I know better that God cares about me, and that the story of Enos’s hunt in the Book of Mormon brought me closer to Him. My journey in life remains a hunt that draws me nearer to God.