Beyond Doubt and Fear: How Acting in Faith Obliterates the Enemy

Beyond Doubt and Fear: How Acting in Faith Obliterates the Enemy

Doubt and fear are truly the ultimate nemeses to progress, prosperity, and happiness. They heighten our urge to stop what we’re doing, run in the opposite direction, distract ourselves, react impulsively, quit, or any other negative response that inhibits growth. 

Doubt is a lack of conviction and certainty. It lurks in the shadows cloaked in security and protection–as if it can swoop in and save us from making huge mistakes, prevent us from holding firm to things that require faith, or even stall our progression toward dreams or goals that seem unreasonable and unrealistic.

Doubt’s best friend is anxiety, which heightens tension and worry. Anxiety looks to the future with dread and uneasiness, so it frantically alerts doubt, calling it from the shadows to protect us from the unknown. Anxiety is gutless and too afraid to do anything about it, other than create physical manifestations of unrelenting panic and fear–so it pulls the alarm for doubt to take care of business and carry the burden.

Fear is a monster. It stands ominous, dark, and brooding as it snarls, thrashes, and threatens our lives. Its bark is equally as formidable as its bite and, no doubt, stops us in our tracks insisting we run as far and as fast as we can in the opposite direction, otherwise, we will certainly face imminent death and destruction. 

Fear is soulless and cruel. Its hate is a dark and immeasurable abyss of misery that seeks to enslave and trap its victims. Its only weakness is faith, but it knows that if it’s loud and terrifying enough it can suffocate faith. It will use doubt and anxiety to wound and sever any ties to hope that may draw faith into the picture.

Doubt and fear work together to destroy faith

They are in direct opposition to faith. And what both of them understand is that faith is so much more powerful than them. Yet, they will not back down—diligently and consistently testing faith with unrelenting persistence. 

It would seem, on the surface, that this is an unfair fight. Us in a weakened, vulnerable, and human state, whilst doubt and fear are ethereal and intangible seemingly untouchable. However, their kingdom of darkness is limited–they are only given as much power as we allow, thus, our agency is the linchpin that holds each element in place. What we give authority, we give sovereignty. 

I wanted to paint a picture of doubt and fear in a physical form. It helps me to see them for what they are. When doubt and fear dwell in my mind I have a difficult time fighting them because they’re elements of chaos. The more chaotic I feel the less power I have to make good faith-based decisions. 

Succumbing to doubt and fear increases impulsivity, temptation, and sins of omission and commission, among other potential negative consequences. Although both elements are part of the natural human experience, we know that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” is His enemy, and becomes “spiritually dead.” 

There are two kingdoms and an ongoing spiritual and temporal war. You can see it everywhere. The most important battle, however, is the spiritual because it ultimately determines our foundational battleground. What fear deliberately and rigorously draws us toward is its domain and territory. It’s a wise strategy because it carries a huge advantage. Faith doesn’t stand a chance if fear holds sovereignty in one’s heart. When “man” becomes carnal, sensual, and devilish “he” cannot abide the presence of God, thus, faith dissipates while doubt’s siren call lulls us into the arms of the enemy (fear).  

The heartbreaking side of fear

I was reading Ether chapters 14 and 15 in the Book of Mormon this week which might help illustrate how fear manifests its ugliness in the unrepentant heart–the one that refuses the things of the Spirit and rejects the the Savior regardless of the warnings He sends through His servants. It is a monster, for sure, but only grows larger the more power we give it.

Coriantumr is the last leader of the Jaredite nation and engages in warfare against, Gilead, Lib, and finally Shiz. He is warned by the prophet, Ether, that if Coriantumr and his people did not repent they would ALL be destroyed save Coriantumr only. 

They refused to repent and Coriantumr witnessed over two million men, women, and children die in blood and carnage. It was only after such sweeping and heartbreaking loss that “he began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.” (Ether 15:3)

To fix the wrongs he had done he wrote an epistle to Shiz pleading for him to spare his people. In return, he would give up the kingdom. Shiz, however, wanted only one thing—Coriantumr’s life. If he would let Shiz slay him with his own sword he would spare the lives of Coriantumr’s people. 

This alternative only stirred up both sides into a frenzy of anger, resentment, and revenge. No longer repentant, the war continued, and blood and carnage befell both nations until only one person remained…Coriantumr.  

Temporal warfare only occurs after spiritual warfare is lost to fear (Satan). I realize this story shows a physical battle between two nations, but we can learn the spiritual consequences of denying faith (God) in our everyday lives. 

But, Lyenna, you might say, I’m just afraid of… 

  • Reaching out to my neighbors and inviting them to a Relief Society activity
  • Bearing testimony when others mock my religion and leaders in The Church
  • Accepting a calling I feel inadequate for
  • Acting on a prompting that’s uncomfortable and stretches me beyond my ability
  • Attending church because I feel unwelcome
  • Insert fear response here

…It’s not like I’m hurting anyone or taking part in the destruction of an entire nation. 

I’m certain Coriantumr believed his agency held no real consequence either … until it did. 

Choice and Accountability

Life is filled with small moments of decision. The destruction of one’s faith doesn’t happen from one singular choice, rather, it is a culmination of decisions and actions that slowly lead them away from the merciful and loving influence of the Savior. Without Him, we can’t make good decisions because “every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13). 

Doubt and fear are natural and come easily to us. We don’t have to work to experience their power and persuasion because of our fallen state. Like floating down a river, we instinctively accept the current because resistance is uncomfortable and laborious, which is fascinating to me. Doubt and fear have NEVER felt good. When I choose either one I feel trapped and hopeless. 

So, why is that the natural choice? 

The purpose of this life is to have a choice between good and evil. Without misery, we wouldn’t know joy, thus doing no good, because we wouldn’t know sin (2 Nephi 2:23).

The fears I’ve listed above are just a few of the thousands that could potentially sweep through our minds. It may not seem like they matter or that they’ll affect us in a significant way, however, the evidence is clear when Moroni taught us, “a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil… Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually” (Moroni 7:11-12).

I’ve talked a lot about doubt and fear and their effect on our choices. I’ve discussed how easy it is to be persuaded by their siren call. I’ve even shared an example of an entire nation meeting its demise because they hearkened and flowed with their influence unattested. 

Now we come to the exciting part!

Faith is a mountain–strong and unmoving. It is majestic and breathtaking as it stands above the chaos of the world. It invites exploration, but only with effort from an active participant. To receive its gifts one has to traverse steep climbs and rugged terrain. There is respite, however, in its shade and small streams–places of rest along the way and peace in the breeze and soft sounds of the earth. To reach its peak is a journey of determination, diligence, and endurance. The reward of which cannot be known unless one is willing to exert extensive and persistent labor to reach it. As one actively climbs, the noise, shadows, and influence of the world soften to a dull whisper, and hope, strength, and joy take its place.

Doubt and fear don’t have a chance when we act in faith. 

Our hope is in Christ. We don’t traverse mountains on our own and though our natural tendency is to accept doubt and fear as inevitable experiences, we can choose the Savior instead. We can choose repentance and faith with unwavering determination and fortitude. 

In those moments when we think we can’t, or feel overwhelmed and unsteady we can trust that Jesus Christ “hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens…for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men…For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name…Wherefore… pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the [daughters] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen” (Moroni 7:28-48).

When we decide to do “whatsoever [God] saith unto” us, we earnestly commit to align our everyday behavior with God’s will. Such simple acts of faith as studying the scriptures daily, fasting regularly, and praying with real intent deepen our well of spiritual capacity to meet the demands of mortality. Over time, simple habits of belief lead to miraculous results. They transform our faith from a seedling into a dynamic power for good in our lives. Then, when challenges come our way, our rootedness in Christ provides steadfastness for our souls. God shores up our weaknesses, increases our joys, and causes ‘all things [to] work together for [our] good.’” (Whatsoever He Saith Unto You, Do It; Elder L. Whitney Clayton)

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