Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Faith?

On a fairly regular basis, I realize that I don't know a whole lot. Sometimes that comes in the form of listening to my math major friend talk about his day, sometimes in the form of hearing my roommate discuss literature, sometimes it comes when I look out into this great big world of ours and think about how much knowledge is out there. But then there are the times that I think about what I do know, and how that knowledge can go even deeper. This week, the realization came with the word faith. What is faith, anyway? I mean, what is faith really?

"Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

But then, what is hope? A quiet assurance. It's a sense of peace, of calm. Hope is the offspring of preparation and understanding. It enables us to move forward. To become. So as we hope for "things which are not seen, which are true" we combine our experiences with our knowledge to look forward to something greater. We hope for God. We hope in and through Him. We hope in His plan, and in His Gospel, and in His truth. We hope in all that He is and all that He does and, somewhere along the way, we realize that it's faith.

Faith is also a bit of courage. And strength. And beauty.

In the Book of Mormon, we are told, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:20). If we, indeed, express our faith through hope, then the phrase, "having a perfect brightness of hope" tells us that faith gives us light. It lifts and brightens us. Faith is the courage and the strength that we need to press forward, and it is the light by which we can see all beauty.

I once went on a hike at 4 o'clock in the morning. I stumbled along, vaguely making out shapes by the light of the Cheshire Cat moon. Unsure what it was that I would discover, I made my way to the top and looked out into the darkness. Eventually, I began to make out the first signs of dawn. It has since occurred to me that faith is hiking to the top of a mountain in the darkness, not knowing what you'll see--only that the sunrise will be spectacular.

"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." 

Through faith, we can summit mountains. We can move them. With faith, nothing is impossible. Ultimately, I think faith is the ability to look beyond the limitations that we see with our mortal eyes. It is letting go of fear and doubt, and it is an absolute trust in what we feel to be undeniably true. It's hoping in God, in all that He is, and all that, through Him, we can become.

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