Faith Amid Doubt

We mortals typically act in faith despite our doubt, not because we have no doubt. If we doubted less, perhaps we would need less faith.

The man that feareth, Lord, to doubt,

In that fear doubteth thee.

George MacDonald, The Disciple, 1867

Perfect love casteth out fear,” John wrote (1 John 4:18; see also Moroni 8:16). Perhaps we might also say, “Perfect faith casteth out doubt.”

I accept the truth of John’s statement about perfect love. I think my made-up version about perfect faith is probably true as well. But to date I have found neither perfect love nor perfect faith in myself. Maybe there have been a few exceptional moments of fleeting near-perfection scattered through the decades of my life, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. Yet I have some faith, and I do love — amid my doubts and fears.

You and I live our lives in imperfect love and imperfect faith. We hope both virtues are maturing in us, but perfection is a distant goal, and our progress depends utterly on abundant grace from a Source outside ourselves.

Meanwhile, remember that “grain of mustard seed”? (See Matthew 17:20.) Our faith doesn’t have to be perfect to be real. A small amount, amid our doubts, can be enough for today.

Of Light, When We Cannot See It

They say that it’s darkest just before the dawn. Perhaps that’s physically true, but they usually don’t mean a sky without sunlight. They’re saying that rescue, recovery, revelation, or some other relief we seek comes only after – shortly after – we are stretched to our personal limits.

That was Joseph Smith’s experience in the grove, for example. Just as he felt himself on the verge of destruction, the pillar of light appeared (JS-H 1:16). We trust in our own happy outcomes too; in the end our darkness will be just that thing that happened for a while before the lights came back on.

That’s true, but it can be difficult to believe, when all we see and feel is darkness.