April: Matthew 15-17; Mark 7-9
My mother went through a horrendous car accident that caused her to go through many painful operations and a long, healing process. Over time, she was able to walk again, but she always had a limp, and her legs were often in pain until the day she died. Rather than becoming bitter because of this experience or asking, “Why did this happen to me?” she asked the question, “What should I learn from this experience?” She wrote the answer she received in a book entitled, Celebration:
Celebration is the conscious decision to live our lives with joy. In the midst of turmoil, pain, and adversity, in bad times and good, joy is the great companion our Heavenly Father intended us to have. To feel joy, however, requires a decision on our part – a chosen approach to life, a chosen attitude, a constant awareness. This decision is the necessary beginning to recognizing, feeling, and developing the joy with which Heavenly has filled our creation.i
This revelation changed the way my mother saw her tragedy and it strengthened her testimony of the Savior and Heavenly Father. We should ask ourselves, “How can we prepare to receive revelatory experiences like this one?” Hopefully, we do not need to go through a tragic accident to have the humility and faith to receive such eternal insights.
Help Thou My Unbelief
A father worried about his child with epilepsy and described to the Lord the extent of his son’s problem: “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth and pineth away… but if thou canst do any things, have compassion on us, and help us.”ii The Savior’s answer put the responsibility for fixing the problem back on the father: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The father’s answer was from the depth of his soul as he cried out in tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”iii
We can all relate to this humble father’s cry as we also stumble with our own questions and worries about life. Elder Holland made three observations that we can learn from this man’s faith journey.iv First, the father initially asserts his strength, rather than leading with his limitations. He acknowledges his belief, while still realizing that he has fears and doubts because of the trying experiences his family has gone through. The second observation is that the father did not start his quest for faith in Jesus Christ by starting with his unbelief. This observation is the opposite of the first but is most important to remember. We must start with faith in Jesus Christ; it is the first principle of the gospel wherein all other principles of the gospel are based upon.
Finally, the father was not afraid to ask the Lord for help. We must also not be afraid to cry out, “Lord, I believe…help thou mine unbelief.”v Pres. James E. Faust reminded us that we must “not let [our] private doubts separate [us] from the divine source of knowledge. Prayerfully go forward, humbly seeking eternal light, and your unbelief will be dispelled.”vi What a beautiful promise from an apostle of the Lord!
Something that we can do to strengthen our faith is to share our belief with others and feed their faith in the Savior. While reading the story of the feeding of the four thousand, I was touched by the faith of those who gave up their loaves and fishes. I am sure they were hungry and probably could not imagine what the Lord would be able to do with such a small amount of food in order to feed thousands. Yet, they faithfully gave up their small portion to feed others.
After the Savior gave thanks and broke the bread and fishes, the entire multitude did ALL eat and all were filled with food.vii They even had leftovers! Those who initially had given of what they had were multiplied in their ability to help others and in their faith in Jesus Christ. As we make choices to do His will and feed others, the Lord will strengthen our belief in Him with even greater blessings – plus leftovers! Elder L. Whitney Clayton said: “We simply go and do the things the Lord has commanded, even when we are weary, trusting that He will help us to do exactly as He asks. As we do so, the Lord helps our unbelief, and our faith becomes powerful, vibrant, and unshakable.”viii
Whom Say YOU that I am?
The Savior is always there to strengthen our faith, especially if we reach out for His help and as we serve and feed others. As we do these things, our faith will become stronger and stronger. The Savior asked his disciples: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” He was asking about people who were neither His followers nor His believers. These people all said that he was just a prophet. But Simon Peter had a very different answer when the Savior asked him, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Each one of us should ask this same question as we reflect upon our faith in the Savior. What do our words say about our testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son? What do our actions say about our testimony that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer? Would others, viewing our life, know that our testimony is the same as Peter’s?
Our faith does not need to be perfect. Just as the father cried for help, we can cry for help to strengthen our questions, doubts, and fears. As we reach out to the Savior for answers, rather than the world, our faith will be strengthened and we will find the help that we need to bear a strong testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
i Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards, Celebration: Ten Principles of More Joyous Living, Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1995, p. 3.
ii Mark 9:18, 22.
iii Mark 9:24
iv Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” Ensign, May 2013, 93-94.
v Mark 9:24
vi James E. Faust, “Lord, I Believe,” October GC 2003.
vii Matthew 15:34-38
viii L. Whitney Clayton, “Lord, I Believe” Oct. GC 2001.