I’m constantly hearing about people struggling with doubts in matters of faith. As I have shared several times before on this blog, I believe doubt is okay. It’s not a sin to have doubts, though it can lead to sin. It’s not something that troubles me or that I worry about. I’ve wrestled many doubts to the floor. I am not beholden to them. There is Someone far more reliable to whom you and I are beholden.
Doubt is not a formidable enemy but you have to deal with it, like a dog scratching at your backdoor. You don’t have to let the dog in, but you’ll be happier if you open that backdoor and deal with the dog.
I honestly feel that doubt can be a great blessing. It can awaken you to new information, new experiences, and new learning opportunities, if you don’t let your doubts take you for a ride. I think of doubt as evidence of missing information and neglect. You and I can do something about that. We don’t need to rely on others for conclusions on matters of faith. We can and should make those conclusions ourselves, independently.
There is a remedy found in the words and wisdom of heaven. Let me share a few things I’ve discovered over the years.
I have learned that my doubts come by choice, and if I don’t address them vigorously, they linger like a stench in my subconscious. But when I look at them through the light and lens of the scriptures, such as these words from Moroni, I find peace:
And now, behold, who can stand against the works of the Lord? Who can deny his sayings? Who will rise up against the almighty power of the Lord? Who will despise the works of the Lord? Who will despise the children of Christ? Behold, all ye who are despisers of the works of the Lord, for ye shall wonder and perish. O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him. (Mormon 9:26–27; emphasis added.)
If I believe the Lord, and I do, and if I believe His words, which I do, I am being told in no uncertain terms to “doubt not, but be believing.” I can do that and so can you. The Savior said—and this is one of my favorite verses—to:
Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (D&C 6:36; emphasis added.)
There it is again: an imperative, a command, to not doubt or fear, to look to Him in every thought. Here’s one more:
Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. (Mosiah 4:9.)
I don’t know and understand everything my Creator knows and understands. I know I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have to have them. As far as this life is concerned, all I need is trajectory, not a final destination. If anyone tries to take you to a “destination,” a plateau of knowledge or understanding, don’t believe them: there will always be a ridge above you—higher ground. Keep your feet on solid rock, but keep looking up, beyond where you stand, and keep walking towards higher ground.
It takes patience. Patience is a manifestation of faith. You and I can exercise patience, the virtue that holds things—especially relationships—together. We can exercise faith that the Lord knows what He is doing. Don’t give up so easily: He is trying to give you a place next to Him on His throne (see Revelation 3:21). “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:9).
Here are five things that have helped me manage my doubts, things that keep them from scratching a hole in my backdoor. They bring me great peace of mind. Please click on the scripture links below and consider them.
- Treasure the word of God, His good counsel and influence for good, treasure it more than the opinions and disdain of men, and it will lead your aright. See Psalms 119:105, 107, Moroni 7:13–14, and Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37.
- The Lord has given us a pattern that will help us discern spiritual influences in our lives and where they come from. Follow, heed, and believe in those influences that edify you, strengthen you, that lift you up, that help you feel peaceful and clear-headed, that help you grow, and you’ll find yourself on the right path. See D&C 52:13–19 and D&C 50:23.
- Take the Holy Spirit as your guide, not the spirit of men or women who grumble, mock, and belittle, who use control, force, or violence—physical or emotional—to gain undue influence over how you think and feel. (See D&C 45:56–57.) Accordingly, “trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he [she] be a man [woman] of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments” (Mosiah 23:14).
- You can deal with doubts and manage them without diving into the cesspool of misgiving and disbelief. When you swim in that stuff, it stinks and its hard to wash off. It’s also hard to not get a few swallows of poison while your dog paddling around in it. Avoid what Paul calls “doubtful disputations” (Romans 14:1) and “turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith” (NIV 1 Timothy 6:20, 21; emphasis added). See also 1 Timothy 6:3–5, also NIV 1 Timothy 6:3–5.
- Never stop searching for light and the fruits of the Spirit. When you only search for darkness, you will find little more than darkness, and you can crumble under its heaping weight. You will be unhappy, rationalize temptations of all kinds, caught in a web of doubt, fear, darkness, and separation. Worse, you will pronounce a prophetic woe on yourself (see Isaiah 5:20). If doubt separates you from the companionship of truly good, honest, and trustworthy people, it cannot and will not be good for you. Seek for the Spirit of God. Seek for “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23) and trust that Spirit that leads you to do good D&C 11:12–13. That Spirit will never lead you astray.
I know that God is found in light. You will see your steps and the end of your journey more clearly when you walk in that light. “Though now ye see him not, yet [if you are] believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and [will be] full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9.)
If you follow correct principles, they will never let you down. We may let good principles down, but they will never let us down.
I’ll close by sharing the verse on our daughter’s missionary plaque:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5; emphasis added. )
If you are surrounded by those who live and die by their opinions, just remember that God doesn’t have any. He is full of light and truth and in Him is no darkness at all. You can be full of light too. It’s the best and happiest way to live.
You can deal with the pesky pooch. You don’t need to let that dour dog keep scratching at your backdoor. Send him away. And keep your back-porch light on.