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As a young twenty-something with three small children I was asked to sub for a Relief Society class. The subject was "Faith." I had some great quotes (still hung up in my study area now, actually) and things were running pretty smoothly. Then, one woman shared her story on what she thought was faith.
"It's like when my husband works far away, he has a long drive, and yet every night I have the faith that he will make it home safely."
To this another sister replied, "But what if he doesn't? Where is your faith when he doesn't come home?"
I remember standing there, feeling young and inexperienced, unsure of what to say or how to continue the discussion. I don't even know what happened after that. I'm sure I fumbled through, giving some simple answer and then turning back to the awesome quotes I had prepared. I don't know. But that question, "What if it doesn't work out?" has frequently occupied my mind.
Until recently, I had never had to really ask that question myself. What was once just an interesting theory has become a reality. Not all in my life has worked perfectly, for sure, but most of my life I have seen faith work things out. However, I believe we all will need to, at some point in our lives, ask this very question of ourselves in a very deep and personal way, "Where is my faith if it doesn't work out?"
I've searched through the scriptures and found that the Lord always fulfills His promises. Always. The most poignant example in my mind is from 3 Nephi. It is a time of turmoil for those who believe the words prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite. An edict has even been issued that if the sign does not appear on a certain night, all who do believe will be put to death (3 Ne. 1:9).
"And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain (3 Ne. 1:7-8, emphasis added)."
And what if the sign hadn't come to pass? What if their faith had been in vain? I can't even imagine the days that passed between hearing that order and the night the sign did appear. What agony they must have gone through. What questions they must have had! I think those days in between were more of a test of their faith than the actual moment of fulfillment.
Think about Abraham, willing to follow the command to kill his son while at the same time holding to the faith he had in the promise given to him that he would have multiplied posterity! That walk up the mountain must have been excruciatingly painful. His heart must have been full of sorrow, his mind full of doubts and questions.
In speaking to a young couple, the husband suffering from cancer, Elder Bednar once asked, "Do you have the faith not to be healed?" It's one thing to have faith when things are going "right." It's a whole different type of faith when we ask ourselves, "Do I have the faith to NOTto..." - - find a spouse, have a baby, survive a fire or accident, etc... OR to ask the question, "Where is my faith when I..." -- lose a loved one, can't find a job, suffer from a terminal illness, etc. "Do you have the faith NOT to be healed?"
Maybe our trial of faith isn't so much about believing whether or not the Lord will fulfill His promises. Maybe it's more about receiving the promises and then watching where and how our faith grows while we wait for the fulfillment of the promise. I can testify that the promises will be fulfilled for God cannot lie (D&C 62:6). But, like Abraham and the Nephites, waiting to see how the Lord will fulfill His promises could be the part that tests our faith the most. What do we do in the meantime with our faith, our talents, our minds, and our hearts? It is then that we need to sincerely ask ourselves, "Where is my faith?"
Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled."
Doctrine & Covenants 1:37