Faith, Not Fear

It is a fundamental belief of my religion that one should live a life of faith. I suppose that is somewhat self-evident, and I think this is probably foundational to many religions. What is faith, and what does it mean to live a life of faith?

It is a fundamental belief of my religion that one should live a life of faith. I suppose that is somewhat self-evident, and I think this is probably foundational to many religions. What is faith, and what does it mean to live a life of faith?

Faith is a belief that things will ultimately work out for the best in the end for those who trust God, in spite of any challenges along the way. Faith is written in the scriptures to be “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”1, or also translated as the “proof” of things not seen. To have faith we must believe in, and hope for the good things that are ahead for us, even when we don’t have complete proof that those good things are coming.

Faith requires action. The “substance” of faith, as noted in the quote mentioned above, includes the efforts exerted by us in giving life to our hopes, and longings. These actions and efforts may be prayers, studying scriptures, focused and optimistic thoughts, or acts of kindness. Acts of faith may also include stepping out of our comfort zone to build a friendship, apply for a job, go to college, have children, or follow through with an idea to do something good. These are some ways that we live a life of faith.

“Faith is the opposite of fear.”2 In church, and in scripture we’re taught to “be not afraid”3. Instead of being fearful, we are to “walk by faith”4, and to “be of good courage”5. It can be difficult to have faith when life gets hard, things seem bleak, and our faith is tested, and yet these are exactly the times when faith is needed most.

Today, the voices of fear and anxiety in the world seem to be growing louder. These voices would have us believe that when hope is fading and solutions are hard to find, fearfulness and capitulation is the only response. If we act with fear, the result is often more fear, pain and confusion. What does faith offer instead?

“And Christ hath said: if ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.”6

“Faith is a principle of power”7. Faith must be centered in Christ. If we have faith in Christ, He enables us to accomplish things we would otherwise consider impossible.

“What, then, are the blessings of faith? What does faith accomplish? The list is almost endless:

Our sins can be forgiven because of faith in Christ.17

As many as have faith have communion with the Holy Spirit.18

Salvation comes through faith on Christ’s name.19

We receive strength according to our faith in Christ.

None enter the Lord’s rest save those who wash their garments in Christ’s blood because of their faith.21

Prayers are answered according to faith.22

Without faith among men, God can do no miracle among them.23

–Elder Quentin L. Cook8
  1. Do Not Fear, President Boyd K. Packer
  2. Hebrews 11:1
  3. Mark 5:36
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:7
  5. Isaiah 41:6
  6. Moroni 7:33
  7. Faith, a Power That Centers in Christ, Doctrines of the Gospel, Student Manual
  8. Foundations of Faith, Elder Quentin L. Cook

Relying on the Promises of God

The scriptures consistently give me an increased sense of hope and well-being that is found few other places. I’ve learned that there’s an important reason to not only read the scriptures, but rather “search” them and rely on them in order to obtain hope:

Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. (D&C 1:37)

God Keeps His Promises to Us Personally

As the years go by more and more scriptures have become meaningful to me on a personal level. I’ve been able to lean on certain scriptures and phrases from the words of God to get me through tough times. It’s evident to me that God uses the scriptures to speak to us. It’s also evident to me that when I take a specific scriptural promise to heart, and if I’m living with integrity, faithfully living God’s commandments associated with that specific promise, God will fulfill that promise in my life according to his timeline. That’s how he works, because he loves us and because he is a God of truth and wants us to trust and rely on Him. He tells us:

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10)

And also has said clearly, “…Behold I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word.” (D&C 17:1)

So what promises in the scriptures can and should be searched for, sought after and relied on? The prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon explained, “…I did liken all scriptures unto us”. (1 Nephi 19:23)

It might seem a little unusual at first that a promise that God made to the ancient Israelites could have direct application to us in our vastly different modern world of today, but truth is eternal. Every promise that God gives in the scriptures can and should be likened to us, or in other words they can be compared and applied to us personally in our individual lives with whatever challenge we may be experiencing or with whatever righteous gift or blessing that we need or want.

Using God’s Promises as Spiritual Armor

A while ago I decided to more actively pursue the promises in the scriptures that were meaningful to me or that I felt I needed to have fulfilled in my life. I wrote several of them down on 3×5 cards so that I could quickly and easily access and read throughout the day and make them part of my everyday thoughts and desires. By reading them often and memorizing many of them, they have been a source of strength even when I’m not consciously thinking about them and also as a shield against discouragement as well as negative and faithless thinking. Here’s a few examples:

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isa 41:10)

“Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.” (D&C 112:10)

“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” (Psalms 34:17)

“…I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88)

These are just a few of the promises God has given us in the scriptures that I rely on daily. There are hundreds more I could add, but the promises that are the most meaningful and valuable are the ones that God will personalize to us individually through the power of Holy Ghost. In my experience these kinds of personal promises are most often found through prayer when seeking specific blessings and then searching/studying the scriptures, then allowing the Holy Ghost to teach by considering them with deep reflection.

God’s Laws Each Have Promised Blessings

It’s no coincidence that each commandment that God gives us comes with a promised blessing for following it. A good example is the law of tithing, giving back one tenth of your income to God. The heavenly law as well as the associated promises for following it is spoken of in the book of Malachi (3:10-12):

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Here’s the rest of the promise:

“..And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Aren’t these amazing promises for such a simple commandment? A blessing that is so abundant you won’t be able to contain it all? And a promise that the “devourer” will be rebuked in your life, i.e. possibly protection from major financial problems, or possibly protection from other “devouring” calamities in the last days. What a great assurance and blessing to have.

Relying On the Promises of God

While many in the world look for fulfillment and comfort in things that only lead to confusion, regret and sorrow, the Lord is rescuing, healing and lifting up those who humbly follow Him and do His will. By living according to God’s commandments and also taking his promises to heart and seeking them, you will receive them. Let your focus, your thoughts, your faith and desires be squarely placed on God’s promises. If you do this, miracles will happen in your life and family, and the mercy and grace of God will be with you. Your faith and relationship with God will grow and you come to realize for yourself that God “hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words.” (1 Ne 9:6)

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever.” (D&C 1:38-39)

Doubt not, fear not

There’s been a lot on my mind lately. It seems like as soon as I get one aspect of my life figured out something else pops up right away that needs to be worked on, fixed, improved, etc. It’s hard sometimes not to let certain things become points of worry. I read recently that the subconscious mind makes up about 90% of our brains and that it will tend to control our thought patterns using learned habits of thinking, unless we use the conscious mind (the other 10%) to direct it otherwise. I prefer not to allow any negative, learned habits of thought to control me. It seems healthy to turn off the brain autopilot (the subconscious mind) and reprogram ourselves to envision a happy present/future as often as possible.

Peace of mind, in large part, is a matter of proactively focusing one’s thoughts on good things, which in turn creates a state of mind where faith and a hopeful outlook is possible. Today, I was reminded of the need to keep the right focus as I began to think with worry about some thing that is unimportant in the larger scheme of things. I have a stack of index cards on my desk with favorite scriptures on them that I flip through occasionally, this one happened to be on the top of the stack:

“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:36)

As soon as I read this I had a strong thought/impression come to me as a firm reminder that the Lord doesn’t give us fear, it doesn’t come from Him. He told us not to be fearful in any way, period. How many times in the scriptures are we told not to fear and not to doubt? We’re taught to simply be believing, exercise faith, follow His commandments, trust Him and things will eventually work out, if not right away. There are no scriptures that say first you’re supposed to sit around and worry about things, after you’ve nagged yourself and dreaded the possible negative outcomes long enough, then you’ll be blessed with good things and with happiness. It doesn’t work that way. Push all doubts and worries out of your mind and continually focus on the good you have and will soon have in your life. We’re not supposed to go it alone either, God is there to help us every step of the way.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)