I was at a home decorating store last week, and I was in the section that had all the signs with different sayings and quotations on them. One in particular stood out to me; it said, "Faith is not believing that God can, it's believing that God will." I paused for a moment to consider that and I realized that I didn't agree with that statement at all. I don't believe that "faith is believing that God will." Who are we to tell God what He should do? Rather, I think that "believing that God can" is the only faith you really need.
So many times in life, especially when we are faced with circumstances and situations that are difficult and frightening, we are told to have faith. Faith that we'll be okay, that everything will work out, that justice will be done, that the sick will be healed, and that the sun will come out again. Unfortunately, faith in these things is little more than wishful thinking. True, God loves us, but just because we pray for something and have faith in it doesn't mean He'll give it to us. We might not be okay, everything might not work out, justice might not be done, and the sick may not be healed. Does that mean our faith is in vain? No, it just means our faith is misplaced. We are choosing to have faith that our will be done, rather than God's will be done.
Imagine that you want to become a great singer. You hire a vocal coach to help you to achieve your goal, and you have faith in her that someday she will bring out the great vocalist in you. Does that mean that you have faith in her that she will rehearse your favorite song over and over with you each session? Do you lose your faith in your teacher when she makes you practice scales instead? The whole point of having faith in your teacher is knowing that she knows the best way to turn you into a great singer, and leaving it up to her, despite your own wishes and desires, because she is the expert. You might think that practicing your favorite song repeatedly will make you a great singer, but she knows better, and will take the course of training with you that she feels will best prepare to become what you dream of becoming.
The same is true with our Father in Heaven- there are many times in our lives when we have to face some tough stuff. When we have faith during those times, our faith is needs to be not that the tough stuff will go away, but faith that the tough stuff is there for a reason. It's faith that Heavenly Father has a divine plan for each of us, and it is only by trusting in Him that we can become more like Him. If your friend is in the hospital, of course you can pray for them, and of course you can ask your Heavenly Father to heal them. But we don't know God's will, and so truly the most powerful prayer we can ever offer is, "Lord, Thy Will be done." And maybe even, "Lord, please help me to accept Your Will, and to learn what it is that Thou would have me learn." Faith is simply letting go and letting God.
I will never forget an experience I had when my son was about 9 months old. I had severe stomach pains and I went to the emergency room, only to discover that I needed an appendectomy. It was in the month of December, so I had about a million things to do, including heading up a huge dinner/Christmas party for my church. I underwent the surgery, and because my husband had to work and my son was still so little, I spent the next week with him recovering at my mom's house about an hour away from my home. During that time, I felt really frustrated. I hated having other people wait on me hand and foot, and I hated not being able to care for and play with my son in the way I was used to. I felt like I was abandoning my responsibilities to my church, and I felt like a burden to my family. All in all, I was feeling really low. But at some point during that week, I had an epiphany. This happened for a reason. Maybe if you stop trying to figure out how to fix it and instead try to understand why, you might have some peace about it all.
That's when I quit whining and I simply began to ask God for help to accept His will, and to help me to learn what He wanted me to learn from it, so I could recognize it as a positive learning experience, rather than a trial. As I began to reflect on the things that were happening to me, I realized that my focus had been skewed. I had been putting so much time and effort into things outside my family, and I always felt I had to be the one in control. God was forcing me to give up that control, to show me that the world still goes on even when I'm not making it spin. He was also showing me how much my family loved me, and that even if I can't even dress myself, they still love me no matter what. I didn't always have to be the strong responsible one. I could basically just be a lump, and I was still valued and loved. The Lord also helped me to recognize that this situation wasn't just a learning experience for me, it was for my family, and for the committee members who had been helping to plan the party. They needed to learn lessons of their own as well, and putting me flat on my back was the best way for God to teach those lessons. Even in my trials, I was being an instrument in His hands.
Once these things became clear to me, I could smile again and be grateful for my situation. I began to appreciate and accept my family, rather than resist their help. I began to be grateful for my life and for the people in it who could pick up the slack when I wasn't able to, and especially grateful for the knowledge that they would pick up the slack when I wasn't able to, and do it cheerfully and lovingly. Most importantly, I learned that my Father in Heaven has a plan for me, and that if I can accept His will for me, then I can grow and learn in ways I could never imagine- ways that would never be possible without the learning experiences He gives us in the form of trials and difficult times.
So really, my faith in God is believing that He can- if He wants to. It's believing that He knows what's best for me, and when I let go and let God, He will make more of me than I could ever make of myself using my own limited knowledge. When I put my trust in Him, my faith is made perfect. With each new lesson, I am becoming more like Him, and for that I am grateful. May we each turn our lives over to God, and accept His will, difficult and painful though it may be at times, that we may someday return to live with Him again, having completed the life He has given us with faith and fortitude, receiving eternal joy beyond measure that He has promised us if we remain faithful.
To learn more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.mormon.org.