Sunday, July 11, 2010

How Strong is Your Faith?

My younger sister called me yesterday with some happy news. She works for Discover Card, on inbound phone calls. The last call she received of the day really surprised her and made her day. An older woman called in with some questions and explained to my sister that in her old age she had never had a credit card until now. She didn't know much about them or how they work. She then proceeded to share a very amazing experience.

She said that she had always been able to take care of herself just fine until recently. She no longer could pay her bills and had been struggling yet hanging on to hope in an answer to her prayers. One day in desperation she was on her knees about to say her last prayer in regards to the subject. She was ready to give up. She had exhausted all her resources and tried all she could think of. At the end of her prayer the phone rang. She answered it. It was Discover Card. She knew this was an answer to her prayers especially when she qualified for zero percent interest for an entire year. When my sister learned this she herself was amazed. During her entire career at Discover Card she has never seen anyone qualify for zero percent interest for an entire year. The woman told my sister that she was now able to pay her bills and pay the card off before the year was over. A miracle, some might say - but to God - well, he is just doing his job. "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).

So what is faith - really? Faith is a "hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21) We also know that "faith without works is dead". We have to act on what we hope for and what we believe to be true. We can't just think about it and hope for it. This is exactly where God tries our faith to see how strong it is. Are we praying for things such as, "Lord please help me receive a better job opportunity or some extra income" without actively searching the job adds and applying? That opportunity cannot fall into our laps unless we actively seek it. The Lord wants us to do all we can and then he will take lovingly it from there.

So why does the Lord require this of us? How much more grateful are we in appreciating and recognizing a miracle or answer to a prayer when it comes after we have exhausted all our resources and actions. I believe that humility is a God like attribute. When we are tired and worn thin and hanging on a thread of hope and the Lord picks us up and carries us the rest of the way, what do we learn? We learn that the Lord knows what we can and can't handle. We need these faith trying experiences so that we can become more like our Heavenly Father. They strengthen us, humble us and teach us who we really are. They show the Lord that we recognize his power in all things and he wants to bless us.

There are many people in the world who say or think in regards to faith in God, Jesus Christ or the gospel, " If I am shown a sign, then I will believe". Signs are not given to produce faith but to confirm faith and to bless the faithful. I think about the second coming and all the amazing signs we are seeing recently in the world. To those of us who have had faith that these signs will come - this is an exciting confirmation of our faith. To the rest of the world - well, sometimes seeing still isn't believing. I like to compare this to John chapter 20 when the Savior visits his disciples after he has risen. Thomas was not there to witness it. When he returned the disciples told him they had just seen the Lord, he was just there. Thomas responds, " Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe". Eight days later the Savior returned and beckons Thomas to feel his prints and side. Then Thomas announces he believes. The Savior responds, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed."

I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to be a Thomas. I think how amazing it is that so many of us have faith in Jesus Christ though we have never seen him. We pray to a God that we have also not seen with our human eyes. Why do we do this? Because we know and because we know and believe we are blessed. It is much more difficult to believe in something that you cannot see, so be proud of yourself for having a testimony of things you have not seen. You will be blessed far greater than those who did not believe until they saw.

Lastly, why should we strive to increase our faith? Just how exactly are we blessed? The answer lies in Moroni 7:25-26, 36-37 when we learn that through the gift of faith, miracles are wrought, angels appear, other gifts of the spirit are given, prayers are answered, and men become the sons of God. Never lose your faith, it's just not worth it. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

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