I would show the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seenThe Book of Mormon, Ether 11:6
But what can you hope for? And how do you know if the thing you hope for is right to hope for?
When I was on my mission in Manaus, I tried to learn Portuguese as fast as I could. I worked hard. I had no previous experience with speaking Portuguese before I arrived in Brazil. When I first arrived in Brazil I started reading the book Drawing On The Powers of Heaven. I don’t know if I was understanding correctly what the author was saying, but I felt like he was suggesting that if I had enough faith and if I was righteous enough, then I could expect miracles, even the ability to learn a foreign language in a very short period of time.
I worked, I prayed, I put all my effort into learning Portuguese. But I never was very good at the language. Even after being in Brazil for a year and a half. I saw others come into the mission field and learn the language quicker than me. Was I too skeptical? Was I not doing something right? Was it not God’s will for me? Was my faith not strong enough?
What about praying for someone who is sick? Can you hope that they will be healed? What about praying and having faith that you will be able to write a book? Build your business? Have good weather? Get the job? What can you hope for?
For if there be no faith among the children of
men, God can do no miracle among themThe Book of Mormon, Ether 11:12
After my mission experience, I grew discouraged in asking God for the desires of my heart fearful that I was asking for something that wasn’t in alignment with God’s will. It’s discouraging asking for something that you think is good, feeling encouraged by scriptures such as “ask and ye shall receive”, but never having the desires of your heart realized. I was tired of having my hopes broken when I would seek for something that was good, and never being able to reach it. I didn’t want to ask anymore for fear that I was asking for the wrong things or that I just wouldn’t have the Sarah like patience to wait for decades for my desire to come to fruition.
As I thought about this I started looking for other people’s thoughts and experiences with faith. I found the personal story from Jeffery S. McClellan both touching and helpful as I work to gain a better understanding of faith.
For years I struggled with how to have faith when giving blessings or praying for heavenly help. When all depends on God’s will and when God’s will seems unknowable or mysterious, how do I have faith that my petition will be granted? What do I have confidence in when I lack confidence in knowing God’s will? Then I realized that we are not commanded to have faith in blessings but in the Giver of blessings. And the first principle of the gospel is “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” not faith in a charmed life free from troubleJeffery McClellan