Today, one of the difficulties we all have in common is facing challenges with hope and faith—but it is not a new sentiment. People from all ages have dealt with such obstacles. We can learn from them.
There is no question that trials today come in every shape and form imaginable.
What are we to do? Elder Jeffrey Holland teaches the following:
On one occasion Jesus came upon a group arguing vehemently with His disciples. When the Savior inquired as to the cause of this contention, the father of an afflicted child stepped forward, saying he had approached Jesus’ disciples for a blessing for his son, but they were not able to provide it. With the boy still gnashing his teeth, foaming from the mouth, and thrashing on the ground in front of them, the father appealed to Jesus with what must have been last-resort desperation in his voice:
“If thou canst do anything,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief'” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” April 2013).
I love that sentiment. In many ways, I feel just like that father pleading for help through my unbelief and weakness. I expect we all feel that way at one time or another. That is the great thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ. With the help of Jesus Christ, nothing is impossible—absolutely nothing.
Well, I don’t have all the answers—nobody does—but I have followed a path that has consistently demonstrated positive outcomes for me and my family over my life. That much I know. And I am not alone. Others on this path very often express these same sentiments. What power have we found?
“The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue. It is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith that you do have and the truth you already know.”
Sometimes, we are looking for a list. I do—just complete A, B, C and that will solve all your problems. You want a list? I will give you a list:
- Do your best
- Receive the ordinances of salvation
- Repent when you fall short
But I realize that doesn’t sound like a solution to your needs right now—the payment that is overdue, the severely sick child, a failed marriage, acceptance into the college of your choice, and any number of other overwhelming challenges that seem more than we can bear.
Stuff happens. The obstacles and challenges of this world are at times overwhelming.
To be honest, this article is all about me. I fall short frequently. I don’t have the quick response and punchline that will smooth everything over in a difficult moment. I want to be good and measure up, but I often come up short when compared to the voices of perfectionism that seems to be a prevalent pursuit in this world.
I suspect that you feel this way as well on occasion.
But Elder Holland teaches this beautiful truth:
“It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines. Whether you are not yet of our faith or were once with us and have not remained, there is nothing in either case you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard,” April 2012).
That is the good news of Jesus Christ, and that knowledge plays an important part of our everyday lives with the challenges we face. But remember, this article is about me. I fall short as the husband that always supports and loves his wife. I want to be the father that makes everything right for his children that struggle, but I can’t. I want to be the favorite grandparent and influence my grandchildren for good and right so they don’t have to learn all their lessons through hard knocks. But the reality is that though I try, I am not all those things, and I have moments of doubt, loneliness, and fear just like many others.
“There is not a thing you could do that this family would forget about you. There is not anywhere you could go, any person you could become, that we wouldn’t love you and support you,” recounts a father to his son in a touching video. I believe that applies to both you and me as well.
Remember the list I gave you? We will often fall short, or at least that’s how we may feel. But remember that is okay and is one of the expected consequences of this world. The goal of this life is not perfection. When we set that as our goal, no wonder we feel inadequate. The goal of this life is humility and faith. With those simple principles, then we can measure up and allow Jesus Christ to make us perfect through His goodness. Even when we are not strong enough to be successful on our own, we can rely on Him.
Let’s now return for a moment to the incident of the father who asked the Lord to help his unbelief. Do you ever feel like that? I do. Perhaps you feel like you can barely face your daily challenges, let alone measure up to the expectations thrust upon you. In his “Lord, I Believe” talk that I mentioned earlier, Elder Holland provided some valuable insights so that we can learn from this father’s experience.
1. “When facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: ‘Lord, I believe.’ I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.”
2. Be patient, kind, and forgiving
3. We need never apologize for “only believing.”
He emphasizes this concept for us so that we can benefit from the grace of God in our behalf.
“It is a story about generosity and compassion. It is a story about grace. It underscores the thought I heard many years ago that surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.”
“Just stay with me and things will be alright” is a Godly sentiment I believe with all my heart.
In “The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Elder Holland explained:
“I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”
President Henry B. Eyring taught:
“If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost … , you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gifts of the Spirit For Hard Times,” June 2007).
That’s our lifeline.
Our challenges are manageable because we need not carry them alone. Our Heavenly Father has not left us alone to fend off the darkness of this life. In fact, He has given us the light of His Son so that we could face our fears with courage and feel hope in the midst of what would otherwise be despair.
Because of Jesus Christ, we are already victorious as we align ourselves with Him. Our knowledge of His gospel gives meaning to all we do and helps us become people of character and confidence.
And that knowledge makes everything right.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.