Faith is the first principle of the gospel, and that will never change. In this church, we spend a great deal of time talking about Fatih. I could spend this whole article giving you different definitions or scriptures that explain what it means to have faith. However, we all know there are some times it’s definitely easier to stick to your faith than others. During the hard times in my life, people would always say to me, “Faith is Not Circumstantial.” As much as I tried, I never really understood what that meant. Then one day, someone explained it to me in a way that changed how I think about faith.
Rather than thinking about faith in terms of a mustard seed or another parable used in the scriptures, sometimes we forget that faith is a principle of action. I used to think that being faithful meant sitting still and waiting for Heavenly Father to work a miracle in my life. Even though being faithful takes patience, patience is not the same thing as simply waiting. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
In the scriptures, there are two very good examples of men who showed us that faith is a principle of action. In the Book of Mormon as well as in the bible, we can see the parallels of two men who had very similar stories, but in completely different times and places. First, there was a man named Noah. The Lord commanded Noah to build an ark in order to save his people and his family, and Noah did. Next, around 2,000 years later, there was a man named Nephi. About 600 years before the coming of Christ, he was ALSO commanded to build a boat, and Nephi did.
So what’s the difference? Not the year they lived, not the reason they built their boats, and not the type of wood they used.
The difference is their circumstances.
In 1 Nephi 17, Nephi says his family pitched their tents by the seashore. However, in Genesis 6, Noah says nothing of their location, but it’s not likely they were anywhere near the water. But, they both speedily heeded the commandments of God and built their ships.
Logically, it makes much so more sense that Nephi should build a ship than for Noah to build a ship. After all, Nephi could look outside of his tent and see the waters he was going to cross. But, Faith is Not Circumstantial. The lack of ocean did not stop Noah from building the ark because Noah had faith that things were going to get worse. Things always get worse before they get better. In a similar way, Nephi didn’t let the endless torment and torture from his brothers stop him from building his boat. In the end, both of these men, through their faith in the commandments of God, built their ships and saved their families.
But how does this apply to us?
It means this: sometimes we can see the storm coming, and sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we’ll see the magnitude of the ocean we’re about to cross, and sometimes we won’t. Heavenly Father doesn’t expect us to be less faithful in trying times.
Having faith in our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ is more about a personal relationship than just a checklist at the end of the day. In addition, the amount of faith your neighbor has says nothing about how hard YOU are trying to live the gospel.
Every person in the world was given their own specific set of trials he or she would face in this lifetime, and I believe we all agreed to face those trials before we even came to this Earth. For some people that includes building a boat on the seashore. For others, that trial may be building a boat in the middle of the mountains. Some of our trials will make sense, and some of them won’t. But, that doesn’t mean our trials don’t serve a purpose.
Through the enabling power of the atonement, we can find the strength and the faith to withstand every storm we face in this life. We have the Savior of the world on our side. We are children of God. If Heavenly Father could teach two men like Noah and Nephi to build massive ships from the ground up, we can have absolute faith that He will deliver us, too.
The greatest tutor in the Universe is on our side. Heavenly Father knows all there is to know in eternity, and by heeding his prophetic counsel and our own personal revelation, He can work miracles through us, too. He will ask us to do hard things, but He will run to our aid when the oceans rise. Faith in Heavenly Father means doing the things he asks us to do whether they really make sense or not. In the end, we’ll be able to look back and it’ll all make sense to us.