Feeling Frustrated With Faith: Thoughts on How To Endure the Low Times.

First, know that the frustration you’re experiencing is common to all of us who try to follow the Lord. We all go through patches like that where the difference between the ideal we’re taught and the real world we experience seem too different to cope with. But we know it is possible to not only endure these times, but have our spirituality thrive in them. Mormon described how important it is to have a sure foundation. Moroni spoke about an anchor to the soul. I have only a few suggestions about feeding the seed of belief and the desire to have belief. (see alma 32)

  1. Speak with your bishop. Be honest and genuine. He is entitled to receive revelation from the Lord on your behalf. Listen to what he says. Hey may come up with a study program for you, or some other regular system of building spirituality. Exercise the faith to follow his counsel. This will help you ensure you are making yourself as receptive as possible to the Holy Ghost. I can’t emphasize this enough.
  2. Renew / Continue your study of the scriptures. Try reading through the scriptures looking for ways in which people have received revelation or been touched by the Holy Spirit. Or, better yet, pray and ask god to help you begin to ask the right questions of him, so you can find your answers in the spirit and recognize those answers as spiritual events.
  3. Lay aside things which are designed to destroy faith. Imagine a long hallway. At one end of the hallway is the Savior. On the other end is the adversary. You are somewhere in the middle. It is impossible to distinguish the voice of the Spirit while the voice of the devil and his angels is shouting so loudly. If you really want to be able to hear the Savior’s voice, walk towards him. It will become more and more clear. Then, when you are ready, you’ll be able to look back at things which caused you doubt and see them clearly, without this feeling of frustration you have now.
  4. Continue / Renew your prayers. God does hear you, and he will answer you. I don’t know when it will be, but it will come as you continue through the difficult times. Your willingness to obey, even when you’re not sure why you should, will help open the heavens.
  5. Start studying faith-promoting content. Find talks on lds.org or the byu speeches site which relate to your life. Try studying scriptures topically based on study guides such as Preach My Gospel. Focus on getting to know and understand God and his church.
  6. Serve. There is no better way to commune with God than by seeking his guidance as you seek to serve those around you. Elder Eyring has repeatedly described this phenomenon, and how those who are caught up in the midst of serving seem to have a direct line of communication for daily interactions with the Holy Ghost. (see his talk: Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times.)

Here’s an example of some text that I have relied upon more than once from the BYU speeches site:

There is a lesson in the life of Moses that virtually everyone will experience one day. It is the sobering truth that before or after great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, as the adversary tries either to keep us from receiving revelation or to make us doubt the light we have received…

Paul said to those who thought a new testimony, a personal conversion, or a spiritual experience would put them beyond trouble, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35–36).

Doesn’t it seem to indicate that there’s a span of time between doing what we’re supposed to do (stacking chairs, etc.) and when the promised blessings / revelations come? I have found this to be the case. Elder Holland continues:

In LDS talk that is to say, “Sure it is tough. But don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had.” That tenacity is what saved Moses when the adversary confronted him, and it is what will save you.

That talk, by Elder Holland, can be found here.

The heavens feel like brass sometimes, it’s true. Thick darkness can surround us so long that we forget what the light looked like. Sometimes it just feels like all there is to life is a dark and dreary wilderness. Some times are worse than others. Keep going. Answers will come. For some people it is as simple as kneeling and asking. For others it is only after years of faithful study and searching. For some, a recognition of the peaceful, good feelings associated with church activities is enough to sustain them. For others, more is needed. In either case, your Father in Heaven knows what you need and will give it to you. Continue in patience and faith. Answers will come. Peace will come.

Here are some additional resources for study

Lord, I believe. – By Elder Holland, speaking about how just wanting to believe is enough for a start.

Dealing with Uncertainty – this one talks about how we grow in our understanding and experience the realization that the easy answers from primary just aren’t good enough.

The Spirit of Revelation

Pray Always

Cast Not Away, Therefore, Your Confidence

1 Nephi 10:19

Mysteries of Godliness TG

Knowledge TG

Waiting on the Road to Damascus

To Confirm and Inform: Blessings of Higher Education

A Disciples Journey

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